How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

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It’s easy to get caught up in fear of the unknown when it comes to coronavirus and even the flu, especially if you are older, or live with chronic health issues. Take a deep breath, and check out these tips on how to prepare for the flu or coronavirus if you are chronically ill.

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

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I’m not a doctor, but I have multiple autoimmune illnesses, and my daughter and I both have asthma. Every year during flu season I hold my breath a little, and become as vigilant as possible when it comes to keeping us both well. I’m not going to lie, I have a healthy fear and respect of both coronavirus and the flu. It’s easy to get swept up in that fear, especially with coronavirus, since it’s new, and the media constantly bombards us with information. If I were a healthy woman in her 30’s, I probably wouldn’t be as afraid, but my illnesses place me in the weakened immune system category, along with my daughter and I both having asthma.

The problem is the fear train doesn’t lead anywhere good or helpful in the long run. Coronavirus is so new that I don’t even fully trust the numbers we are getting as far as mortality rates, given that people could already be affected by a mild version of the illness, and go untested. The best thing you can do if you are living with chronic health issues is to stay calm. Stress not only causes flares, it also weakens the immune system, and mine doesn’t need one more excuse to slack off! The next most important thing to do is try and silence all of the media noise and seek out credible information, from your own medical team and sources like the CDC. 

When I am anxious about anything I try and prepare as much as I can.

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

Preparation for Flu or Coronavirus is Key If You Are Chronically Ill

Anyone with a chronic health issue knows that preparation is essential. I never know when a flare will strike, or when one of us will catch a cold that will then turn into bronchitis, or worse. As a single mom, I don’t have another adult who can run out in the middle of the night to fetch something for me, or a sick kid. Planning ahead a little goes a long way! 

  • Store at least two week’s worth of non-perishable foods, water, and any “sick day” or “flare” foods and beverages. I have tried to do this ever since I became a single mom, because it just makes life easier. It’s really nice not to have to go anywhere when one of us is ill. This is also just plain smart, not only for “quarantine” reasons, but in case there is a natural disaster, or the power goes out–even if the car breaks down. I make sure I have plenty of ginger ale, gatorade zero, ingredients to make my own version of the Starbucks medicine ball, tea, cans of soup, crackers, and ice cream. 
  • Keep disinfectant, cleaning products, personal products, and toiletries stocked. Realizing that you are out of Clorox wipes, laundry detergent, shampoo, or body wash at 2AM with a puking kid is so not cool.
  • Keep healthy frozen meals in your freezer. Once every month or two (whenever I need to restock), I make a yummy batch of vegan “not-chicken” soup, and store it in freezer containers. If one of us gets sick, all I have to do is pop the frozen soup in the microwave or crockpot. Double up on recipes when you cook, and it’s an easy way to have a nice variety of healthy, homemade foods that just have to be heated up when you are in a flare or too sick to cook.

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

Preparing Your Medicine Cabinet for Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

  • Keep as much of your medication stocked as you insurance and doctor will allow. Everyone’s situation is different. I keep at least 2 weeks to a month’s worth of all of our prescription medications stocked. Make sure you check the expiration dates monthly, and replace as needed.
  • Stock OTC medications, vitamins, and a first aid kit. I learned this one the hard way after almost chopping my finger off, cooking, one night, with like one Band-Aid to my name. Our first aid kit is easily taken along if we go anywhere, too! It can actually be cheaper buying a stocked kit that already has everything that you need, as opposed to buying items separately. Make sure that tylenol, cold medication, children’s tylenol, cough drops, stomach medications, and Pedialyte are available in your medicine cabinet. I stock up whenever any of it is on sale! When it comes to vitamins, talk to your medical team to make sure you are taking the right types and doses. They can let you know if you are neglecting one that might help you. 

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

Kill As Many Germs As Possible

Due to coronavirus, the news and CDC have been reminding us all how important it is to wash your hands properly. Here are a few other things that I have already been doing to try and minimize our exposure to germs during flu season.

  • Leave a bottle of hand gel in the car. I also carry some in my purse, along with disposable gloves. When I go to the ATM or pump gas, I use a disposable glove, then toss it, and apply hand gel, until I can wash my hands. I know it sounds extra, and yeah, to a healthy person, it just might be, but think of the petri dish on both of those things. My immune system already struggles, so if I can spare it by doing something so simple, why not? At the grocery store, I use the antibacterial wipes provided to wipe down the cart, and more hand gel. 
  • Place a bottle of hand gel by the door so that you can quickly disinfect your hands when you walk in the house. Also, take your shoes off right away.

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

  • Disinfect your home daily. Danny Tanner and I could totally hang out. Once a day, I make a point of wiping down as many of the high-traffic surfaces as I can (think counters, tables, remotes, door knobs, light switches, cupboard handles, fridge/ stove/ microwave handles) with Clorox wipes or Lysol. If your stores are sold out, you can make your own Clorox disinfectant wipes! I live in a shared building, and I make a point of wiping down the bannister and door knobs in the hallway, too.
  • Stop touching your face. Especially in public, when your hands haven’t been washed. It’s a hard habit to break, but well worth it, since viruses can enter your body via your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Disinfect your phone, iPad, and keyboards. Contact the manufacturer to figure out the best way to do so.
  • Wash coats, backpacks, hats, scarves, and gloves regularly.

Social Distancing (When Necessary)

During flu season I am really picky about the social events I attend. Sometimes I catch grief from people, but those who love me and know my health challenges get it. They know I will be back strong in May!

  • I try to stay away from big crowds, and big parties, aside from holidays and really special events. If someone is coughing or sneezing, that’s a definite nope.
  • You have to live your life, I just try to be smart about it. I base what I do around how healthy everyone is, and how I am feeling. While out, I make sure I protect myself and my daughter as much as possible.
  • The 6 ft. rule. If you’re in a social situation and someone is coughing or sneezing,  you can protect yourself by trying to stay 6 feet away from them. Use hand gel and wash your hands. Maybe throw jazz hands instead of a hug or a high five during flu season. 
  • Shop smart. I try to do one or two big grocery shopping trips a month, shopping in the off hours. Not only does it help with avoiding some of the flu season germs, it’s way more relaxing than shopping when it’s busy! You can also take advantage of services like Shipt and Instacart, or Target Drive Up (which is my current addiction). 

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

Ask Your Doctor How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

Not Web MD–your actual medical team. They will be able to tell you what to concern yourself with when it comes to the flu and coronavirus. Ask what plan they would want to follow if you did start exhibiting symptoms of the flu or coronavirus. Hopefully it will be one you never need to use. You can also access up-to-date information on the CDC’s site.

It is normal to be uneasy about a new virus, especially if you live with chronic illness. Just don’t let that fear or anxiety keep you from making informed decisions, advocating for yourself, and living life.

How to Prepare for the Flu or Coronavirus If You Are Chronically Ill

More Tips on Staying Healthy During Flu Season

How do you prepare for flu season? Comment below!

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