It’s that time of year again. While the lazier days of summer are nice, we actually thrive more on routine. A new school year is a fresh start and an excellent time to implement healthy habits such as daily exercise, a regular sleep schedule and a better diet.
Ironically, this is also the time of year we tend to get sick. Our kids, face to face with classmates for 6 hours a day, breathe in new and different germs and bring them home to share with the rest of us. Illnesses lasting more than a couple of days, or accompanied by a high fever or dehydration, may require medical intervention. Regardless of whether or not we go to the doctor, there are a few things we can do for ourselves to lessen our chances of falling ill, or to shorten the duration of an illness and avoid spreading it to others.
- Wash your hands! – Of course you know this already, but keep in mind that we touch our eyes, nose and mouth more times over the course of a day than you might imagine, and the mucous membranes are the most efficient route for a germ to enter the bloodstream.
- Certain phytonutrients and supplements (available at Atlanta Functional Medicine) are beneficial in shortening the course of any illness that does occur, and in preventing its spread to others. If you come by the office we’d be happy to direct you to what can help.
- Sneeze into the crook of your elbow instead of into your hands.
- Drink fluids constantly throughout the day – warm or cold. Not only does this combat dehydration, it makes mucous more fluid so coughs and sneezes are productive, moving the germs out of our systems more quickly. In addition, Dr. Mehmet Oz says that most viruses can only re-enter our bloodstreams through our mucous membranes and will die in the acid of our stomach. If we are constantly washing them out of our mouths into our stomachs, we reduce the population of the germs and recover much more quickly.
- Acquaint yourself with the nettie pot! This simple, nasal irrigation device will allow you to more effectively cleanse the inner regions of your sinus than you could by blowing alone. As with the above suggestion, a clean mucous membrane is an inhospitable home to germs.
- Get plenty of rest and don’t bounce back too quickly. If you’re well enough to rejoin your life, by all means do, but put off that boot-camp-style workout for a couple of days. The immune system needs energy and fuel to recharge.
In good health, a fresh start has a chance to flourish as we pursue our goals anew.
By Cheryl A. Salinas