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5 Tips Managing Cold and Flu Season with MS

By Matt Cavallo

It is that time of year again when everyone, everywhere is coughing and sniffling. It is impossible to avoid, especially if you have or are around small children. While avoiding people who are sick would be ideal during cold and flu season, the fact is that we need to get out and live our life. We can’t let the fear of getting sick keep us from our day-to-day responsibilities.

When you factor in that some of us living with MS are on MS treatments that suppress our immune system, our risk of contracting the cold or flu is increased. However, there are simple, every day strategies to help minimize your exposure to the cold and flu. Here are five tips that can help you stay healthy during the cold and flu season with MS.

1. Get a flu shot. The number one way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. According to the National MS Society research, the flu vaccine has been studied extensively and is considered quite safe. However, as good practice, any time you get a vaccination, you should check with your neurologist

2. Wash your hands frequently. We all touch common areas like door knobs. If you go in or out of a place, you are probably touching something that a million other people have touched before. Also remember to wash your hands after shaking hands, sneezing, blowing your nose, being around other people who may or not be sick, and especially before you eat or drink.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching these areas on your face can spread germs, especially after touching other objects, without washing your hands first. This can be especially difficult if you have itchy, allergy eyes or a runny nose. It is important to be mindful of not touching your face in a public environment like work, the grocery store, or restaurants. Public places are a breeding ground for germs and you can unintentionally transfer germs by touching something that a sick person touched and then touching your face. 

4. Use tissues, nasal spray, and eye drop to help manage symptoms. Talk to your neurologist about which nasal spray or eye drop would work best for you as there are a variety of over-the-counter or prescription options. Again, any time you make changes to your medical routine it is smart to check with your neurologist to ensure that there are no negative interactions with your MS treatment. 

5. Drink lots of water. Your body needs plenty of hydration, whether you are sick or not, to function properly and clear toxins. When you are sick, it is critical to maintain the proper level of hydration. Water or water with lemon are the best things you can drink when you don’t feel well. Sports drinks, ginger ale, soda, and fruit juices are mostly sugar and should be avoided. The same with coffee and alcohol. If you want a hot drink, try some herbal or green tea.