Surviving Cold and Flu Season with MS
All MSers should be fiercely protective of themselves when it comes to avoiding illness, even if they aren’t on a medication that suppresses their immune system. A slight fever can cause a temporary worsening of symptoms (known as a pseudoexacerbation), or even a relapse. It’s important to stay as healthy as possible, after all our bodies have enough battles to fight as it is!
Last year during flu season my immune system had been wiped out by my DMT, so I had to take a few extra measures. I avoided large crowds and anyone who was sick, and things were sailing along smoothly. Then my husband came down with a 103 degree fever and chills…dun dun duuuun! But guess what? We followed a few strict, but easy, rules for infection control that we use as healthcare providers every day and I managed to avoid getting sick (as did everyone else in the house)! Here’s how we made it work:
1. Isolation- he stayed on the couch under a blanket that was reserved for him and him alone, we slept in separate beds, and washed all blankets, sheets, and clothing A LOT. We even traded our New Year’s kiss for a romantic high five :)
2. Avoiding contact with communal surfaces- I waited on him hand and foot, bringing him food, water, tissues etc… This was mostly because I felt bad for him, but I also had a selfish motivation. The less surfaces he touched, the less likely I was to pick up germs from communal surfaces.
3. Hand hygiene- this seems like a no brainer, but everyone in the house should wash their hands often. Every time he blew his nose he would clean his hands with alcohol based hand sanitizer. I made sure to wash my hands before eating, and I was extra careful not to touching my nose/mouth without washing my hands first.
4. Snot patrol- he is really good about sneezing/coughing into either his elbow or a tissue. We also always have a bag sitting right next to him and all used tissue go straight into that bag- not on the floor, not on the couch, but into the bag!
5. Disinfect frequently- twice a day a used lysol on any and all surfaces that he came in contact with. Think door knobs, remote controls, phones, toilet handles, light switches, refrigerator doors, and cabinets.
Many viruses are passed from person to person by touch. The sick person touches their face often and then touches a surface, then the healthy person picks that virus up off that surface and touches their face. If you have clean hands and clean surfaces this should prevent the transmission of many illnesses. Other bacteria/viruses are airborne, and can be contracted by inhaling pathogens after a sick person coughs or sneezes. It’s hard to tell if the sick person you’ve come in contact with has an airborne illness or not, so to be safe always act as if you can get it by touch and follow the rules of containment!
Stay healthy everyone!