Stopping the sniffles this holiday season

Sarah Rice, Guest Reporter

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I love the holiday season as much as the next person. I really do. As long as I ignore the unbearably frosty temperatures, the neighbors who insist on having a 37 foot tall blow-up reindeer in their yard, the painful small talk at holiday parties, the overplayed Christmas songs, the prying family members at dinner …

The list is long enough as it is, so why make the winter season even worse by throwing in a nasty cough, a sore throat, a fever, and a stuffy nose? Whether it’s the flu, strep throat, or just a common cold, feeling ill can really put a damper on the holidays. Rather than risking your health this season, spend some time taking (basic) precautionary measures to protect and prepare your body for the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. Wash your hands. Come on, now. You can’t even list all of the things you have touched since you last used soap and water. Enough said.
  2.  Get the flu shot. Despite the rumors around the flu vaccine, reports from the Center for Disease Control       show that the flu shot can prevent between 40% and 60% of flu-related illnesses. Your primary care providers and all urgent care centers all distribute the vaccine, and some stores/pharmacies also give out the vaccine- some stores don’t even require you to have health insurance.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. For your body to function properly, it must have access to fuel, or food. The better the fuel/food, the better the body will react. Certain foods boost the body’s immune system, like citrus fruits, spinach, ginger, almonds, and other foods containing Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6,  and Vitamin B-12. A stronger immune system is just one of many benefits from a balanced diet.
  4. Get enough sleep. Teenagers should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but in reality getting more than 4 hours of sleep can be a success on some nights. Besides giving the brain and body a chance to recover from day-to-day activities, sleep also encourages the body’s supply of white blood cells. These white blood cells protect the body from infection and disease, but their numbers decrease when the body does not receive enough sleep. With less white blood cells, the body has less protection from disease.
  5. Control stress. Recently, a 2012 study published by the National Academy of Sciences showed a direct relationship between stress and disease; higher levels of stress made the body more susceptible to germs. It makes sense, though, because mental, emotional, and physical health all connect with and impact each other. Practicing self care and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, baths, massages, or just some alone time, can lower stress levels and therefore keep the body and its functions running smoothly.
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Stopping the sniffles this holiday season