I've always been a worrier. It will surprise no one who knows me that I'm nervous about coronavirus. But I'm also worried about the flu, colds and other viruses lurking on door handles and elevator buttons.
I try to combat my anxiety with action. The past few weeks, I've sanitized my doorknobs, remotes and light switches each night. I've bought food, supplies and medicine to stock up. I've been cooking more meals from scratch, with many more fruits and vegetables. And we definitely got flu shots this year.
The result is my sons and I have stayed well. But is there more we could be doing? Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — are doing to prevent coronavirus, flu and the common cold.
"In my experience, maintaining healthy habits is the best prevention," says Jennifer Hanes, D.O., a mom of two and a wellness physician and blogger in Houston. "Every action we take is either moving toward a healthy state — or moving away from a healthy state. Focus on being healthy rather than on 'not being sick.'
"For most people, this means eating plenty of healthy foods and getting adequate sleep," Hanes continues. "How do you know if you're getting enough sleep? If you're well rested, you will wake up BEFORE your alarm. Now, think about how sleep deprived many schoolchildren are.
"As a physician who has treated a lot of patients with virtual visits over the internet, I am surprised by the lack of medications in most homes," Hanes continues. "It is incredible how much better a person can feel with just a single over-the-counter dose of Tylenol or Advil. It is a wise idea to keep an over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer, along with cough medicine and a sore throat spray, just in case."
"During cold and flu season, the standard message is to stay hydrated, rest, eat well and wash your hands," says Hana R. Solomon, M.D., a mom of four and grandmother of eight, a pediatrician, and the author of "Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter," in Columbia, Missouri. "What needs to be added to this simple common sense advice is to care for the body's external filter, your nose. You breathe 10,000 liters per day, and so washing the filter clean makes sense. This idea of keeping the nose clean is supported by many studies.
"Hypertonic buffered nasal washes can remove 80% of the irritants, shrink swollen membranes, thin the thickened secretions and augment healing of raw nasal membranes," Solomon continues. "But most the impressive fact is that the correct saline solution creates an uninhabitable environment for infectious particles like common cold virus, influenza and bacteria."
"I remind my patients (and my kids) to wash their hands (especially before eating), not share food and drinks with friends, get enough sleep and eat as well as possible," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Pennsylvania. "And, of course, get your flu shot!"
The long and short of cold and flu prevention is to wash your hands with soap and water—a lot!" says Michelle Davis-Dash, M.D., a mom of two and a board-certified pediatrician in Baltimore. "Cover your sneezes and coughs in the crook of your arm — not your hand. I tell my patients who do happen to fall ill that containment to protect other people from catching it includes washing hands, disinfecting door handles and fixtures with Lysol, and replacing toothbrushes after illness."
Dr. Rallie's Tips
"If, despite your best efforts, someone in your family has caught a cold or flu, offer plenty of tea. Warm tea is particularly beneficial for children and adults suffering from the common cold because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
"Tea has been shown to enhance the protective powers of the immune system by increasing the body's production of interferon, a substance known to play a key role in protecting the body against infection.
"When researchers at Harvard Medical Center asked subjects to drink five cups of black tea each day for four weeks, they found that the volunteers' blood cells contained five times more interferon than before they began drinking tea. The scientists attributed the immune-boosting property to a natural chemical called L-theanine, which is found in green, black and oolong tea. The researchers expressed their hope that, eventually, L-theanine will be used in drugs that bolster the body's defenses against a number of illnesses and infections. — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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