Following along the steps of every Girl Guide, I fully believe in the motto, ‘Be Prepared’. Especially if you have auto immune conditions, such as Lupus, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS -we tend to fall ill faster, stay ill longer and have more complications. So! The following is my Ultimate Cold and Flu Toolkit to ensure you are at least comfortable and reducing symptoms as these nasty viruses make their annual rounds.
Firstly, take a few minutes to take stock of your current cold and flu supplies – make sure everything is in date and stock up on things you are getting low on.
1. Vicks First Defence -I cannot stress enough how awesome this stuff is! Both hubby and I have one with us wherever we go. The moment you find yourself around people who are ill – take it! And KEEP taking it. Yes, it isn’t the most pleasant experience – but I rather the tingly feeling in my nose for 30 seconds than deal with a cold (that can last for weeks!).
2. Cough syrup- both for tickly coughs and an expectorant for chest coughs (Tip: Have a look at dollar shops or other bargain stores – you can get stuff for a fraction of the price that does the trick just as well as the expensive branded stuff!). In fact, they will have a lot of stuff to stock up on there, so check them out first in order to save money!
3. Sudafed Nasal Spray- (having a blocked nose sucks – this stuff rocks!). If you want the more natural route, then try using eucalyptus oil…Simply put a few drops of this into a bowl (or sink) of very hot water, put a towel over your head and over the bowl/sink and breathe….
5. Bath Salts – to ease aches and pains, as well as clear your head – the one I love is the San Francisco Bath Salt Company Cold and Flu Vitamin Soak that is made with rosehips, hibiscus flower, echinacea root and ginseng root. It is pacific sea salt infused with vitamin c and lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils.
6. Cold and flu medications – If you are looking for a more natural route to fighting off colds and flu, Kings Cold & Flu has excellent reviews and is all natural and homeopathic. It can be used as a preventative as well as when you have a bug.
7. Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen – for headaches, general body aches and fever.
Important safety tip! Please ensure that you are not over medicating with paracetamol/acetopminephen and discuss anything you are taking over the counter, including herbal remedies, with your pharmacist to ensure your safety when taking prescription medications.
8. Cash – Have a little bit of money tucked away to have in an emergency – to get a taxi to and from your doctor’s (or hospital) . As well, money if you have a great pharmacist (like we do) that can deliver any over the counter meds, in order to be able to pay them (not everyone thinks of these things, but I am a rather smart cookie (at times!)). Heck, call your pharmacist right now and ask if they do this service, so you know for the future!
9. Herbal Tea for Colds and Flu – Combined with honey, can soothe and relax you and even help you to sleep. Be Well makes a lovely tea for colds and flu with echinacea elder, ginger and golden seal.
10. Echinacea – Many people find that echinacea really works for them – however, studies have shown that it doesn’t prevent colds or flu. So, hey…if you find it helps, obviously make sure you have some! :).
11. Zinc – Many people also swear by using zinc, however, according to the Mayo Clinic – the jury is still out- and it could possibly cause damage that is permanent – like loss of taste! (However, I know MANY people find it really works!). Vitamin C also doesn’t seem to have any substantiated proof that it helps, either.
12. Anti-Diarrhoea and anti-nausea/sickness pills (I don’t leave home without either, personally!).
13. Several Boxes of Tissues – The ones with balsam in them can be more gentle on a red and sore nose.
14. Baby Wipes – For when you’re struggling to get out of bed to have a bath or shower… or…if you have the runs…they can be kinder on your delicate parts.
13. Sore Throat and Cough Drops
14. Vicks VapoRub – I know tons of peeps that say if you slather Vicks on your feet and cover them with socks that it can really help a persistent cough. If you look it up on Snopes – it is unsubstantiated. HOWEVER… This article seems to have many people swearing by it! (Hey, when you have a bad cough and are struggling, try it…only you will know the real answer and if it helps, great! And if not, you will have gooey feet that smell like menthol! :)).
Obviously the primary use is to put it on your chest/back to help alleviate congestion. You can also put some in a tissue to breathe to help a stuffed up nose.
15. Nose Balm – Instacure with natural manuka honey and other certified organic ingredients rocks in regards to soothing a sore, red and cracked nose. It has a lovely, soothing scent, too.
In writing all of this, one other thing I want to mention…I have been lucky these past few years in regards to catching the cold and flu. I ensure that I use Vicks First Defence immediately, when I am around others who have caught a bug…however…I fully believe that the reason I have not caught these bugs is because my immune system has been boosted substantially by the use of LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone). This is an incredible medication that heals the immune system (it is also putting people with cancer, MS, Crohn’s into remission as well as helping many people with fibromyalgia and ME/CFS). Check out the article I wrote about LDN here.
Get Your House Prepared …
…not only for when you (or your family) are ill, but also for bad weather in general.
Make sure that you have things such as food, toilet paper etc. ALWAYS available and replenish when you are well (if possible of course). When you are feeling uggghhh to begin with, then with a cold or bug on top of it, the last thing you want to be doing is having to make food for yourself – and your family. Check this out for a full Winter Survival Checklist.
Last But Not Least…
…and probably the most important thing of all…WASH YOUR HANDS. If you go out anywhere, make sure you immediately wash your hands upon return – or use antibacterial wipes or gel the moment you are back in the car/house. ATM machines, shopping carts, public handrails, card machines at checkouts, wherever other people’s hands have been is a breeding ground for germs. And…
Stay away from people, when at all possible, who are sick! If someone says they are unwell and you are planning on seeing them and they say it’s only a wee sniffle…know that their sniffle can turn into something like a chest infection for you. Obviously, this is common sense! And obviously, it’s sometimes easier said than done!
So there you have it. The Ultimate Cold & Flu Toolkit. If you have any other tips or products that you find really helps you get through a cold or flu, please comment. Hopefully this winter you won’t have to use any of this stuff!
*long life milk (or the little containers of milk.cream for coffee and tea)
*tinned soups, beans, etc and packets of soup
*frozen soups, stews, casseroles – things that are easy to eat and just plain good old comfort foods
*dried goods like rice, pasta, soup mixes
*honey and lemon juice (and whiskey or brandy if you can take with your meds and drink of course) in order to make a hot toddy
And lastly…if you can do it, make up and freeze some homemade chicken soup – aka Jewish penicillin – The next time you roast a chicken, use the carcass and boil it down with carrots, onions, loads of garlic and ginger and chicken stock cubes. Freeze in individual containers. (I always like to have some on hand to also give to people who are unwell…nothing says, ‘I love you’ like some homemade chicken soup! It really does work!
Although we always hope we are going to make it unscathed through a season of colds and flu, being prepared and having a Cold and Flu Toolkit to hand is important. This way you aren’t only not having to go out when feeling miserable to get the goodies – you are also not spreading your germs when out, either. If you have any further things to add to the list, please comment and share what works best for you!