9 Ways the Chronically Ill Can Avoid the Hospital This Holiday Season


The holidays are a time of fun, family, and — for many of us — a time when our chronic health conditions tend to flare up.

All of the extra excitement, stress and close contact with people can wreck havoc on our immune systems and potentially cause a major meltdown.

Despite using plenty of Purell and a good scarf, many of us with chronic illness can end up spending a least a couple of nights in the hospital during the holidays, especially if we’re on immunosuppressants.

Fortunately, I’ve found it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are many easy, natural ways you can prevent getting sick during this time of year that may surprise you. There are even more options to lesson the duration and severity of an illness once you have one.

Here are the best (and some surprising) ways I’ve found to stay out of the hospital during the holidays:

1. Don’t touch your face.

Many acute illnesses, like colds and flu, are spread through direct contact. An easy way for those germs to get into your system is through the orifices in your head (ears, nose, mouth, eyes). By touching someone or something carrying germs and then touching your face, you may be providing a direct link to disaster. Remember to wash your hands often, but more importantly, don’t touch your face to prevent spreading germs.

2. Skip the sugar.

Sugar can hurt your health in many ways, but did you know roughly the amount of sugar in a can of Coke can knock out your immune system for a few hours or more? Holidays are a time when many indulge in sweets. Choose them wisely and not very often.

3. Use essential oils.

Essential oils can be a really easy and natural way to knock out colds and flu once they’ve started or when you start to feel run down. They can also be helpful in treating flu symptoms without having to take medication. You can use them as a natural hand sanitizer on the go as well. Essential oils can be your one-stop shop of wellness.

4. Sip tea.

Drink hot black or green tea with lemon and local or raw honey. Drinking the tea and breathing in steam can stimulate the hair follicles in the nose, which can move out germs more efficiently. Lemon can thin mucus in your chest, and raw honey is antibacterial.

5. Carry alcohol wipes. A box of  little, medical alcohol wipes are a cheap and easy way to keep your cell phone, steering wheel and office space clean. Feel free to share with anyone coming down with a cold, too. The world will thank you.

6. Breathe out.

When walking past another person who is sneezing or coughing, gently and slowly breathe out until you are beyond them in the “safe zone,” which is about six to 10 feet away. This can help keep you from inhaling the air they just contaminated.

7. Carry your own pen.

Using your own pen at the bank, the grocery store, and especially at the doctor’s office can keep you safe from germs. You can even use it at the ATM to touch the buttons.

8. Cover any open wounds. It can be common to get sores when on immunosuppressants. Don’t expose them to airborne germs. Make sure any open wounds, no matter how small, are covered by clothing or a Bandaid.

9. Grab a green juice.

Do you remember the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Fresh juice is filled with vitamin C and antioxidants to give a big boost to your immune system. This is one of my favorite recipes.

We should all be healthy for the holidays. Just remember to pace yourself, get plenty of rest, and enjoy.

Image via Thinkstock.

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