What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

'Tis Cold and Flu Season

You are most susceptible to coming down with the cold or flu when your immune system is over taxed.  We arrived home from our winter vacation in the sunny south on December 20, immediately jumped into holiday mode and quite frankly we were exhausted so it is no wonder that my husband easily caught youngest grandkids cold.  He spent the first week of January dealing with his cold while I managed to avoid it.  The following week, against my better judgement I stopped at the gym for a membership.  Later that day she wrote on Facebook that she was dealing with three sick people at home - her husband and two kids.  I had talked to him that morning.  Two days later, I woke with a sore neck but didn't think much of it as my neck is often sore due to an old injury.  By mid-afternoon, the soreness had been replaced with a scratchy throat.  I started with my normal routine of gargling with salt water and sipping on warm water with honey and apple cider vinegar.  The weekend passed but my throat was still sore on Monday.  That afternoon, the coughing started and let me tell you it was beyond horrid.  The first cough felt like my lungs were going to explode followed by my whole body in searing pins and needles.  The next coughing spell quickly turned to vomiting as did each coughing spell after that for the next two days along with that horrid searing pins and needles sensation.  I called my doctor and in the meantime increased my Symbicort and started taking a DM Expectorant which barely took the edge off the cough.  Aside of the searing pins and needles sensation which was very painful, I actually felt fairly good.  There was no fever just the coughing, the sensation, no appetite and feeling tired so I really wasn't concerned.  I figured it was a cold that hit hard and I was right because about 8 days after the coughing started I was fine.

According to some sources, there is a lot of sickness going around and I'm sure there will be a lot more.  Here, in our little corner of beautiful Ontario, Canada the biggest problem has been lack of a hard frost to kill off the germs. There is a rather aggressive strain of flu going around as well.  Despite being high risk, I do not get the flu shot nor does my husband.  The flu vaccine is a whole issue in itself!  However, even though colds and flu are going through the area, we seldom get sick.  I suspect we only came down with the colds this year because we were exhausted.  Here are some of the things we do to avoid contracting colds and flu.

  • hand washing - Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.   We are constantly washing our hands throughout the day and we use the waterless hand sanitizer.  We have hand sanitizer in both vehicles, in coat pockets, in my purse and throughout the house.  It is used several times throughout the day.
  • don't touch the face rule - It is surprising how many times you touch your face in a day but this is one of the best ways to get germs into your body.  Becoming aware of how many times you touch your face can help you reduce that.
  • avoid people -  Avoiding people is a rather effective way not pick up germs and it is a lot easier than you would think.  During the cold and flu season we stay out of hospitals (germ cesspools), doctor's offices, malls, grocery stores and in short unless we really need to go out, we don't.  We don't have public transit here so that's easy to avoid but if we did, we would not use it during cold and flu season.  We continue to entertain but at a reduced level and while this could expose us to both cold and flu, the risk is considerably lower as our friends and family tend to stay home when they are sick.
  • healthy eating -  In general, my husband and I eat healthy on a regular basis not just during cold and flu season.  We tend to eat home cooked from scratch, home canned, hormone-free grass-fed beef, AND we avoid food additives, preservatives, HFCS and excess salt.  We eat salad daily as well so in general, I really don't need to modify this for the cold and flu season although I may add extra onion and garlic (anti-bacterial).  
  • avoid sugar - During cold and flu season we avoid sugar especially white sugar.  Sugar supports the growth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.  We aren't big sugar users to begin with but avoiding it helps prevent secondary infection (usually bacterial) should we have a viral infection (cold, flu).  If we need a sweetener, we use raw honey, agave nectar, molasses or stevia.
  • natural remedies - Wherever possible we avoid using pharmaceuticals in favour of natural remedies.  I am supposed to take Symbicort daily but I don't unless I have respiratory problems.  My top natural antibiotics are oil of oregano, raw honey, tea tree oil and garlic..
  • dietary supplementation - My husband does not use much in the way of dietary supplementation but I do to support and boost my immune function.  This allows me to avoid using Symbicort.  Dietary supplementation should always be geared towards the needs of the individual.  Along with immune supporters, it is necessary (or suggested) that dietary supplementation to support liver and urinary tract function be included to help rid the body of toxins.
  • hydration - Proper hydration is necessary any time but during cold and flu season it becomes more important.  The reason being, dry mucosal membranes are more prone to infection.  If you have a cold, hydration is very important in helping you clear mucous.  The problem is, homes heating during the winter are dry so you are losing moisture to the dry air and if you have a fever you are losing even more moisture.  This is the time to boost water consumption and avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol.  
  • sanitizing - I keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol on hand.  Once a day, I go through the house and spray surfaces where hand might have touched (eg. tv remotes, telephones, door knobs, light switches, keyboards, etc).  This really helps to knock down the germs in the house as the alcohol kills 99% of germs on contact preventing the spread of germs.