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Monday, October 24, 2016

Cold and Flu Prevention for Arthritis Sufferers

A sneeze, a sniffle, slightly cooler temps, and just like that…cold and flu season is here. While a nasty cold or bout of the flu is no big deal for most people, both can be pretty harsh, and even potentially dangerous, to someone with a compromised immune system--or someone suffering from an already serious medical condition like arthritis. 
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease causing painful swelling and stiffness in the joints, and it also renders the body susceptible to greater risk for infection.
Here are some tips we often share with our arthritis patients at Texas Orthopedics to help fend off the flu and curb colds at this time of year:

Keep immunizations current.

Make sure your shots are up-to-date for respiratory infections such as flu, pneumonia, and pertussis (whooping cough). Also consider getting a shingles vaccine if you are over 60. Opt for the actual shot instead of any mist versions as they are “dead,” rather than “life” versions of the virus (which could lead to illness), and a much safer choice for arthritics.

Eat well.

As always, brightly-colored, vitamin-rich fruits and veggies are great for boosting immunity, and even more so in the cooler months. Don’t forget to also include in your diet the usual anti-inflammatory staples like walnuts, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and fatty fishes (salmon, tuna, sardines). 

Stay fit. 

As little as 20-30 minutes of brisk walking a day can help the body fight off germs, and harmful viruses and bacteria. In fact, a study by the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio determined that when people ages 50 and older exercised daily, they were 29% less likely to get sick, but if they did, they recovered 43% more quickly than those who did not exercise. Daily exercise anyway is super important for arthritis patients, to maintain joint health, so keep it up!

Wash your hands.

Pretty simple, but pretty effective. Frequent hand washing keeps germs you touch from traveling to your nose, mouth, or eyes, which can then infect your whole body. Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer or moistened wipes, after using the bathroom, handling garbage, coughing or sneezing, or before preparing food.  

Assess regular meds.

Whenever there is a change of seasons, discuss your usual dosages for arthritis medicine with your physician. Hot or cold temps can influence the body in different ways and alter the effects of some medications while possibly decreasing your immunity.

At the earliest sign of a cold or flu, be ready to take action. Use OTC (over-the-counter) meds as directed to treat fevers, aches and pains, coughs, and stuffy or runny noses.  Please contact us though for an appointment if your symptoms are severe and don’t lessen after a few days.

(Courtesy of Lifescript)

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