Need tips for escaping the flu this season? Women over 40- these 10 expert tips can keep you healthy and going strong even if you’re exposed.
Make yourself a priority! Start by printing this SELF-CARE CHECKLIST.
In the span of 24 hours, I will likely field these concerns from both my aging in-laws and my young adult children on one (or more) of the following topics:
- a new physical ailment
- friend drama
- scheduling woes
- the latest retail discovery
Women over 40 are sandwiched in the middle and, some days, squeezed pretty tight. While I welcome both my roles: mom launching freshly minted “grown ups” and daughter-in-law to fantastic aging seniors, it’s easy to put my needs last on the list.
During cold and flu season, you need special help and encouragement to take great care of yourself. After all, too many people are counting on you!
Escaping the Flu
Ever wondered why cold and flu bugs prefer the winter months? According to experts, there are several unique factors contributing to this phenomenon. Women over 40 who understand these risks do better combating them.
Winter air is dry, whether you’re indoors or out, so it pulls moisture from cough and sneeze droplets. That makes the drops lighter, so they — and the cold and flu viruses inside them — can hang around in the air longer. The arid air also dries out your nasal passages, creating cracks that viruses are all too happy to invade.CNN Health: Secrets of Women Who Don’t Get Sick
First of all, dry and cold conditions set up a better environment for respiratory germs to take hold. Not only is the climate a contributor to sickness, but people tend to seek shelter indoors-where germs spread easily in crowded spaces.
But cold, arid temperatures aren’t the only contributors helping viruses thrive this time of year. Many of us lower our natural immunity by getting less sleep and compromising diet and exercise during this busy season.
Escaping the flu can be tricky when family, work and social obligations pull from every side.
Studies show adults over 40 have the second highest influenza rate of age groups studied. Health experts advocate tried and true precautions to lower your risk. Perhaps, in the rush of your daily schedule, you need a refresher.
Median incidence values (or attack rate) by age group were 9.3% for children 0-17 years, 8.8% for adults 18-64 years, and 3.9% for adults 65 years and older.CDC.gov: Key Facts About Influenza (Flu)
Although viruses are nothing new, novel strains continue to appear. More than ever, self-care for women over 40 is vital to keep us healthy and available for those we love.
PRINT THE SELF-CARE CHECKLIST for even more ideas on keeping yourself at your very best.
Women Over 40
If you’ve ever compared your sick day symptoms to your partner’s, you’ll be interested to know that “man flu” may, in fact, be a real thing!
Man Flu is a crippling and debilitating disorder indiscriminately striking down male members of the human species without warning.manflu.info
Don’t let the guys in on this secret, but a recent study may prove their symptoms really are different than ours. Hormones probably play a role. While estrogen makes initial viral symptoms more severe, testosterone causes the flu symptoms to hang on much longer.
The result? Once women over 40 recover from our illness, we’ll most likely be caring for our man.
Vaccines have become a hot topic of late, but experts still recommend a flu shot as the first line of defense. When making your decision whether or not to immunize against the flu, consider the facts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states “Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.”
If you have a chronic diagnosis that puts you in a higher risk category or are more likely to be exposed to the virus due to your home or work environment, experts strongly recommend vaccination.
Although the flu shot isn’t a guarantee, experts recommend it as a safeguard to minimize your chances of contracting a very severe case of influenza.
While vitamins and supplements are often touted as cold and flu prevention, most are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That doesn’t mean they aren’t effective, but most lack proven research to back up claims.
Supplements can interact with medications, change the body ‘s metabolism and cause side effects.Mayoclinic.org
Make sure you double check with your pharmacist or health care provider before you add vitamins or supplements to your regimen. Before you shell out big bucks for more pills, make sure you’re eating a healthy, vitamin rich diet.
Hand washing is the new cool! Everyone is talking about it, and for good reason. After all, simple soap and water are two of the most effective, low-cost elements in escaping the flu.
If you dislike or have a skin reaction to hand sanitizers, keep a box of baby wipes nearby and use them regularly.
Take your time lathering up when you have access to a sink. Allow soapy lather to make contact for at least 20 seconds, and include your wrists and fingernails.
If you are in a public restroom, shut the faucet off with a paper towel. Try to push the door open with your shoulder, or use another paper towel to turn the knob.Web MD
Should you or someone you love succumb to the flu, make sure to get a new toothbrush once symptoms subside. You’ll avoid re-introducing those pesky germs from your mouth.
Until you have time to clean your hands, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. This simple tip will keep you from introducing germs from a doorknob or hand rail to your healthy body.
Perhaps nothing unites women over 40 more than complaints about sleep. Whether hormonal changes make it difficult to nod off or have you waking up with the roosters, a full night’s sleep is precious.
Though experts often say that sleep requirements vary by individual, a 2009 Carnegie Mellon study found that anything short of seven hours nearly triples your odds of catching a cold — and that means seven straight hours, with no middle-of-the-night wake-ups.CNN.com
Up your odds of escaping the flu by doing all you can to rest well. If a snoring partner interrupts your zzzs, consider sleeping separately until flu season passes. Talk to your health care provider about options for sleep aids or natural remedies.
If all else fails, consider a short nap whenever you can sneak one in.
Stay Away From These
During cold weather conditions, comfort foods become especially appealing and available. But overindulging in alcohol and sugar only makes our bodies more susceptible to sickness.
Like alcohol, refined sugars use up your body’s magnesium supply, taking it away from your immune system.Best Life
Even if you consume these two moderately, consider cutting back even more until the threat of flu germs passes. Instead, up your intake of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables along with plenty of fresh water.
While fear can send you into a cleaning frenzy, escaping the flu is more about routine habits than extreme measures.
Most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on a surface.CDC.gov
Develop a cleaning schedule that includes wiping down commonly touched surfaces in your house, car and purse. At least once a week, disinfect these objects:
- Cell phone
- Workout gear
- Key fob
- Door knobs
- Light Switches
Don’t forget to switch out bed linens, towels, and other soft items like throw pillows. These objects may hold on to germs even longer than hard surfaces.
Escaping the flu and avoiding crowds go hand in hand. But most of us don’t have the luxury of staying curled up on the couch in our jammies all day.
Plan shopping a little better to minimize trips to big box stores, or trade errands with a friend. If you can’t avoid a crowd, be aware and use common sense.
flu droplets generally don’t spread farther than six feet from the infected person. If you’re out of that circle, you’re likely at less risk.Everyday Health
Politely avoid anyone with obvious symptoms and use a sleeve or paper towel to grab doorknobs and handles. Keep that wipe or sanitizer handy, especially for wiping down tables when eating out.
Turns out, our moms were right! Opening the windows and letting the fresh air blow through the house just might be the best disinfectant.
If frigid temperatures prevent you from airing out your house, take a minute to step outside and fill your lungs with clean oxygen and a bit of sunshine. Bundle up for a short stroll or take your time walking from the parking lot to your building.
Escaping the flu means taking advantage of breaks in the weather by airing out your environment and turning on the ceiling fans. Any lingering germs will be banished.
This SELF-CARE CHECKLIST will help you get started.
If you’re a woman over 40 who’s guilty of putting your physical needs last on the list, here’s an incentive to take charge of your exercise.
A 2010 Appalachian State University study showed that people who walked briskly for 30 to 45 minutes a day five days a week during the winter had fewer illnesses than their sedentary counterparts.CNN.com
Tackle two categories at once by walking your dog regularly or strolling with a friend. You’ll get a bit of fresh air and sunshine, while raising your immunity with physical activity.
Even when you’re pressed for time, look for little ways to add activity like keeping a set of hand weights at your desk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
If you do succumb to a virus, don’t go it alone. At the very least, let others know you’ll be home recuperating for a few days. Should your symptoms persist or worsen, don’t put off a visit to your local doctor or urgent care until things get really bad.
Until a cure is found or I find my magic wand, escaping the flu is a combination of luck and prevention. Women over 40 need to stick together. After all, the generations on both sides of us need us to stay healthy. With these 10 expert tips, you’ll have a fighting chance.
You’ll want to post this beautiful SELF-CARE CHECKLIST where you see it every day.