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How to Avoid Getting a Cold this Season

As the season slowly ticks toward winter, that also means we are moving into cold and flu season. If you haven't already received your flu shot, it's not too late! The Centers for Disease Control report that a flu shot reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% in the overall population. It's definitely worthwhile to schedule a flu shot with your healthcare provider.

Influenza is not the only illness we have to fight during the winter months. The common cold is the top reason that children miss school and adults miss work. There is no cure for a cold, since it is a virus, but there are lots of ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching a cold. The CDC reports that adults have an average of 2-3 colds every year!

We all recognize the unwelcome symptoms that a cold is upon us: sore throat, body aches, headache, runny nose. Most people will recover in a week or ten days, but for elderly persons and those with weakened immune systems, the risk of developing more serious complications is a concern (think bronchitis or pneumonia).

So you can see why it is so important to do everything in your power to stay healthy and keep elderly loved ones healthy, too. Here are some quick reminders:

  • Wash your hands! This one is a no-brainer, but washing your hands properly is key to getting rid of the microbes that can make you sick. Lather the soap all over your hands, including between your fingers and scrub for 20 seconds. Use a clean, dry towel when you are finished. Avoid touching the faucet or door handle with your newly washed hands if you can.

  • Get lots of rest. Your immune system wears down when you don't get enough shut-eye. Specifically, your immune system cannot produce the necessary cytokines (small proteins) that it needs to fight infection and inflammation.

  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. This is health protection 101, but especially important during cold and flu season. When you sneeze or cough, any viruses or bacteria we are carrying are spread out into the air where innocent friends and family become exposed. If you don't have a tissue handy, use your elbow to stop the spray of germs.

  • Keep your hands off your face. It's a habit we all have, we rub our eyes, scratch our noses, wipe our mouths. Be mindful of touching your face if your hands are not clean. Your mouth, nose and eyes are extremely vulnerable to the bacteria and viruses that can make us sick.

  • Exercise… but not too much. Your immune system gets a healthy boost when you exercise. White blood cells protect against infection. When you exercise, those cells can increase and circulate more rapidly giving you another layer of infection protection. However, be careful not to overdo the gym time. Going too hard without the proper nutrition and sleep can have adverse effects on the body.

  • Eat right! The holidays are a hard time to stick to a healthy eating regimen. It's okay to indulge yourself a little bit, so long as your overall habits give your body the right nutrition to stave off those germs and bacteria. Read our blog on "Immune Boosting Foods for Seniors" by clicking here.

  • Drink lots… of water. The holidays give us lots of reasons to celebrate and imbibe, but drinking less alcohol and more water is really what your body needs to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Hot or cold liquids keep the mucous membranes moist, and help flush toxins out of the body. Dehydration is dangerous at any age and in any season, so keep your immune system working right by getting enough liquids.

    The health and well being of our residents at Heritage Health is our top priority. Visit a location nearest you if you are interested in learning more about our services or taking a tour. You can find all our locations by clicking here.

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Friday, October 18, 2019

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Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.


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