Cold & Flu Season: Be Prepared!

In Blog by Alyssa ReidLeave a Comment

Yep.  We Know It All TOO Well…

For those of us with auto immune conditions, such as Lupus, MS, arthritis, fibromyalgia and CFS/ME (to name a few) we know all too well how easy it is to catch everything that is making the rounds. From colds and flu, to sore throats and norovirus…not to mention issues arising with asthma being a nasty issue that can arise from being ill.  And if you have children in your life, many of us have ‘the never ending bug’ that circulates around the house for weeks…and months.

Obviously, being unwell sucks big time.  But when you are in chronic pain and exhausted already, things like coughing, sneezing, throwing up (you get the picture) just makes everything worse and last much longer – and for many of us we go into a flare up.  (I am typing this as the 3yr old that is in our life has a bad chest cold and has just patted (and sneezed) on the cat that is currently on my chest giving me lots of love (and probably the cold).  That is, unless I fight it – which is always the plan!

Here are my personal Top Tips for getting through it!


Make your body as healthy as possible …

Firstly, by ensuring that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals you are doing what you can in regards (This means the ‘good stuff’ not your grocery store variety multi-vitamins).  Bone up on your vitamins C and D, magnesium and potassium for a start.  Eat fresh fruit and veg, proteins and foods with lots of garlic, ginger, onions and cinnamon. This way you have a fighting chance by boosting your immune system.

And as the ‘Silly  Season’ is upon us, where many of us need to go out to buy gifts, food, go to parties and dinners as well having people over to our places.  Exhausting even for someone who is well, let alone with a chronic illness.  

It’s important to make a plan of action!  This means pacing yourself. Know that if you push it and overdo it, by the time the ‘big day’ arrives, you are too unwell to enjoy it.

Although we don’t celebrate Christmas or Hannukah in our home, we do have Snackmas (the celebration of snacks and nibbles and movies and pyjamas…and NO GIFTS).   A suggestion is to try to order as much as possible online – in fact, order things all year round online. (Amazon is definitely my favourite – especially as a Prime member, we have saved a LOT in regards to delivery charges, not to mention getting items ordered the next day – even on Sundays!).  The other reason I like Amazon, is that if the private seller is selling the same product on their site, they are not allowed to undercut Amazon – so that means the prices are very competitive. (Plus it’s easy – and they seem to sell pretty much, well, everything!).  Plus, score…!  Delivered directly to your home (in the most miserable of weathers!)

Wash Your Hands! Use antibacterial gel that’s kind to your hands – all of the time.  Here are a few good suggestions (beyond the obvious!):

Keep antibacterial gel in your handbag as well as antibacterial wipes and use for:

  • Wiping down shopping trolleys and baskets
  • The moment you finish a transaction with an ATM, use card machines, hand over money…basically, whatever anyone else has touched ensure you don’t take their germs with you!
  • Fuel pumps are notorious for being unhygienic – use wipes or gel right after  – whether it is you or anyone else you are in close contact with – ask them to use this for their wellbeing – and yours!
  • Have some antibacterial gel inside your front door or ensure the moment you are someone else enters your home to USE IT
  • stair bannisters

Get a flu jab! In the UK and other countries, these are free to those at risk. Here are 5 flu shot myths:

Myth No. 1

The flu shot does not protect me from the virus.

Truth: The flu vaccine is intended to create a stronger immune system to help keep you from catching the bug, and lessen your chances of spreading the flu virus to others.

Myth No. 2

I never get the flu so I don’t need a flu shot.

Truth: No one is immune from getting the flu. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over 6 months should receive a flu shot. The flu shot helps protect yourself and others from getting the flu.

Myth No. 3

You can get the flu from getting the flu shot.

Truth: No. The flu shot cannot cause the flu because the vaccine does not contain any of the live virus.

Myth No. 4

My decision to get the flu shot only affects me.

Truth: False. If you are sick with the flu, there is a chance that you may infect your family, friends – and even co-workers. You should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

Myth No. 5

Pregnant people cannot get a flu shot.

Truth: Flu shots are a safe way to help protect a mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu, and prevent spreading flu to others. Make sure you share this knowledge if your partner is expecting.

BE PREPARED!Ensure You Have a Cold and Flu Kit!

Which Includes:

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 that than deal with a cold (that can last for weeks!).

Cough syrup (both for tickly coughs and an expectorant for chest coughs)

Sudafed Nasal Spray (having a blocked nose sucks – this stuff rocks!)


If you are prone to chest infections, pneumonia and bronchitis, having a Vicks humidifier/mister with Vicks Vapopads can help with dryness and blocked noses.

A good hot soak in the tub (if you can manage it) with bath salts to ease aches and pains as well as clear your head – the one I love has eucalyptus, ginger and black pepper essential oils….with dead sea salts.

*Cold and flu medications (I find Night Nurse helps me the most – and doesn’t have any ephedrine in it (which can cause heart palpitations). Day Nurse does though…as does pretty much every other cold and flu remedy I have found in the UK.  Night Nurse also helps me sleep (bonus!).

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.

*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) and money if you have a great chemist (like we do) that can deliver any over the counter (and prescription meds) in order to be able to pay them (not everyone thinks of these things, but I am a rather smart cookie (at times!)).

*Herbal Tea for Colds and Flu 

At this stage you are possibly wonder…’hey, where’s the echinacea?!’  Good question!  The research that I have carried out has shown that there actually is no cold (excuse the pun) hard evidence that in research studies, people using echinacea were able to stop a cold/flu from coming on, or getting rid of it faster with less symptoms.  This could also be due to the studies were all using different strengths, tincture, pills, teas…made from different varieties of echinacea, then…hey…if you find it helps, obviously make sure you have some! :).  The same goes for zinc, according to the Mayo Clinic – the jury is still out- and it could possibly cause damage that is permanent – like loss of taste!

*Anti-Diarrhoea and anti-nausea/sickness pills (I don’t leave home without either, personally!)

*Tissues -try to get antibacterial ones – stop the germs from spreading!

*Baby Wipes

*Lozenges for sore throats and coughs


Obviously, these items are just suggestions and a good base to start from – not only for yourself, but to have on hand for your whole family as well!

Always Get Recurring Tonsillitis, Asthma, Bronchitis or Other Ailments?

Speak to your doctor and ask if it would be possible to provide you with an advanced prescription so that you have things on hand like antibiotics, inhalers, ear drops etc.  Some doctors are happy to do this, others aren’t – but if you don’t ask, you won’t know!!!  Having this on hand not only spares you a trip to the doctor’s (where there’s even more germs to catch!), but also allows you to start self-treatment ASAP.

Get Your House Prepared …

…not only for when you are ill, but also for bad weather in general.

Make sure that you have things 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. And chances are what

My motto (albeit a bit agoraphobic) is, The moment you step outside of your home, you are putting yourself at risk of catching something.‘  

Stock up on things like:

*long life milk (or the little containers of milk.cream for coffee and tea)

*toilet paper


*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

Image result for keep warm

As heating costs spiral out of control, if you stay in one room most of the day (and night), consider using some of these products to ensure that you are warm without having to crank up the heating!

Heating Pad

I have to admit, I am shocked at the number of people who have never owned, let alone tried one of these babies!  I couldn’t live without mine (and in fact, it travels with me pretty much anywhere I can plug it in!).  I have tried (and gone through) TONS of heating pads and find that my Beurer heating pad that I have had for several years now has been the best one to date.

Make sure that you get one that automatically turns off after a set amount of time.  (I have had one that almost caught on fire…like we are talking burning smell and smoke).  You are never supposed to fall asleep when using one.  (Ya, right, I am realistic, but had to put that ‘safety warning’ in here just in case!).

The Most AWESOME Canadian Fleece Sheets

Ok.  These aren’t the cheapest…but OMG!  They are amazing….my husband admits to feeling ‘trapped’ and unable to get out of bed because it is SOOOOO cosy.

Luckily, my Mom is in Canada and she has sent us several sets over the years.  Can’t imagine winter without them!  Check these sheets out…you won’t regret it!

As North Americans tend to have a top sheet and a fitted bottom sheet (and in Europe, we just use the duvet without a top sheet), I use the top sheet, on top of the duvet.  (Wow, I sure used the word ‘top’ a lot there! 🙂 )

So cosy inside – and out!

And last but not least, our cat’s most favourite warming device – a  Heated Underblanket.  (Yep, I have one and the cats also have one – otherwise, they refused to give me my spot in bed back the moment I vacated it!)

I hope that this has helped you with some good ideas, tips and products that keeps you healthier, warmer and feeling as good as possible during these upcoming months.

Alyssa x


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