I've picked up some nasty sickness that's been going around these parts and let me tell you, it's a dozy (nothing like hot sweats at night to wake you up, followed by a coughing fit). I've been down for the better part of 10 days now and it is awful!! So, I've been mostly trying to stay warm, drinking lots of fluids, sleeping as much as possible, and admittedly, staying pretty medicated. My doctor says I have the beginnings of bronchitis. I honestly have been doing my best to stay away from other sick people and have not spent any time out in the cooler weather on purpose to avoid the possibility of getting sick and it still got me. I thought I was doing everything I could to keep this stuff at bay. Apparently I was wrong. So, how do you prepare at home when dealing with this kind of sickness? Here a few tips.....
Use a humidifier: Humidity adds moisture to the air which will in turn moisten your skin (including nasal passages) and thin some of the mucous in your sinuses. This makes it easier for your to breathe and easier for the mucous to drain. I use a cool mist humidifier pretty much year round in my home. It saved me from getting a nose bleed during the dry Arizona summer. I kept it running pretty much all day long this summer. It was wonderful! It you don't have one, I highly recommend getting one.
Wash your hands often: This won't necessarily help you once you are sick, but it will help you from spreading it. Also try to avoid sharing any towels in the house and use those anti-bacterial wipes (the ones that say they will kill viruses) on surfaces like door handles, faucet handles and kitchen surfaces.
Be sure to get a little sunlight: Studies have shown that vitamin D, not vitamin C, provides the most efficient protection against cold and flu viruses, it only takes 2o minutes in the sun, with the hands, arms and face exposed, to get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Wear socks: It took me forever to give into this recommendation, but now I realize it's so important to keep your feet warm, whether you're sick or not. I also keep a warm sweater or hoody for putting around in while I'm hacking, coughing, and sniffling.
Keep tissues in reach: I always have a steady supply of tissue everywhere throughout our home when we are sick. We personally endorse Puffs as the softest brand. And for heaven sakes....put your used tissues in a garbage bag right after you use them! Nothing grosses me out more than picking up used tissues when another family member is sick in our home. A simple brown paper lunch size bag works really well and is small enough to be place on a night stand or along your bedside/couch side. Then all you have to do is toss the brown paper bag when it gets full and no one has to touch your gross tissues. Here's another tip, little things like providing your child with their own little box of tissues and their own little bag to put used tissues in makes your child feel like you are going the extra mile for them when they are sick, and they love this! (it's the little things)...plus it teaches them to be responsible and try to keep their germs to a minimum.
Chicken soup, Zicam, Emergen-C, and Advil Cold & Sinus, and doctor prescribed medication, all trumped by sleep: Be sure to have a room where you can fully block out the lights to get some rest. Because nothing is more important in helping you regain your strength than sleep (but bet sure not to give into the wive's tale of starving a flu....eat!) The last thing you want to do when you're feeling really crummy is run to the drugstore. Sometimes you need relief right now. I keep a plastic box stuffed with over-the-counter meds and herbal remedies for everything from the common cold to heartburn. Every year or so, I throw out the way past expired drugs and restock as soon as possible. Most times, I don't have to restock because someone in the family inevitably ends up needing something from my stash. I carry a big purse and everyone laughs at the size of it but there is a reason for it (my kids give me a hard time about the size of my purse all the time), in a portion of it I keep my purse stocked with things like, Advil Cold & Sinus, Imodium, Tylenol, Motrin, Eye drops, Tums, Cough Drops, Vitamin C Drops, and B-6 tablets. Every year I am always glad I have these things on hand.
Sleeping Together: I have been relegated to the couch in our living room so my husband will not get immersed in my sickness. I've covered it in a plastic mattress cover and several sheets. My main priority is to keep him from getting sick at all! Especially with his spinal cord injury. If he gets sick it's pretty much guaranteed he will end up in the hospital and we definitely do not want that!
Change Sheets: After a particularly sweaty night wrestling with fever, I try to wash all the sheets. Now, if I am just to darn sick, I don't do this, and who knows if this helps with germs, but it sure makes everything more comfortable. It's unlikely you're going to launder your sheets midway through a bout of sickness, but a fresh pillowcase feels like heaven after a night of sweaty tossing and turning. Even if you're a one-sheet-set person, keep an extra pillowcase or two in the closet. If you're feverish, chill a pillowcase in the freezer for an instant cool-down. Trust me, this is one of my favorite things to do, even when I'm not sick. In fact, I've been known to throw the entire pillow into the freezer even when I'm not sick. It's great for someone who gets migraine headaches too.
Trust me, my next household splurge will definitely be on high-quality pillows! That's all I was wishing for as my budget pillow seemed to gradually lose it's will to fluff. It was flatter than my unwashed hair, and just as unappealing.
Open a window: In addition to changing the sheets, I opened all the windows in the front of the house for the day to air it out, let the sun in, etc. I staying in another room while I aired it out.
Coughing and sneezing into the upper sleeve. It's too easy to forget that you coughed into your hand and then touched the fridge handle. Better to keep your coughing and sneezing into your upper sleeve so your hands are relatively germ free.
Wipe Handles Down: This is where I tried to be good. I wiped down the fridge handle and drawer handles in the kitchen and bathroom along with doorknobs with hot soapy water and a little bit of Lysol as best I can when I am sick whenever I get ready to leave a room, that is if I can. OR if I just don't feel up to it, I do a massive door and handle cleaning as soon as I am better.
Stay Away: As hard as it was, when everyone gets home for the day, I put myself in a separate room with the door shut to keep them all from catching whatever I have.
A Mask: When I went to the doctor, they gave me a mask to wear, so I wore it that whole day and even at night (it actually helped my sore throat by keeping the air warm around my face). I wish I'd had a whole box or two of these since it made coughing and sneezing a non-issue.
Electrical heating pads are efficient, but dozing off with one can cause burns or fires. A hot water bottle with soothe your upset belly or sore back and maybe even ease you into sleep. It's also a treat on a chilly night, especially if it's wrapped in a cashmere cozy.
I spent several straight days and nights wrapped in a warm blanket. If you have the space, a stash of thick blankets will cocoon you in warmth when you're feeling chilled from fever or frosty temperatures. The softer and cozier, the better. If you've got something contagious, be sure to clean them when you've recovered.
I love having a carafe by my bedside for middle-of-the-night thirst attacks, but is also comes in handy when you're camped out on the couch. A full carafe by day's end will chide you, too. I know my doctor told me to drink plenty of water.
Whoever decided bathtubs were not relevant in the modern home design?? I don't care how outdated the humble tub becomes, it will always be a high-ranking priority for me. Nothing---and I mean nothing----soothes an aching body like a good soak, especially with Epsom salts thrown into the mix. A hot shower feels pretty good too, though.
Even if you're all about takeout, you should always have a little something in your pantry (cause trust me, things like chow mien is tough on the tummy in turmoil). Canned soup works in a pinch, but in an ideal world, you'd have a container of homemade stuff in the freezer at all times.
Always have something like a nice magazine stash around when you are sick....because your head is usually way to foggy to deal with anything beyond the offerings found in US Weekly or InStyle, and a movie rental or two via Netflix is also great to keep you preoccupied while being in bed or couch bound. Since we don't have cable TV right now, my laptop helps me cling to sanity when I am not sleeping. (Coughing attacks in the middle of the night are brutal!) I don't think I could make it through this without watching several seasons of NCIS (again) on Netflix or some new shows on Hulu. (amazingly, my stomach held steadfast through some of the goriest scenes). Once I am feeling "on the mend" enough to sit upright, I was insanely grateful for the many magazines in my living room.
My last tip, and this one is totally optional, is to adopt a fluffy puppy. It turns out that my crazy dog - who usually can't stay still for very long - is the best buddy ever, which I finally realized after he insisted on spending every minute curled by my side. He didn't use to be allowed on the furniture. Now I have an exception, if we are sick, the dog stays.
Do any of you have particular home habits or advice when sick? What do you do at home to contain a sick family member? We may have gone to extremes but once family saw how sick I was, I think we all realized how awful it would be for everyone else (especially the hubby) to get sick too.