Flu Season: Living With an Autoimmune Disorder

 In Health & Wellness, Health Problems

When you have an autoimmune disease like Lupus or Fibromyalgia, you find yourself afraid of many things that would never cause worry for most people. It is flu season, and I live in Tyler, Tx which is currently ranked #1 in Texas right now for the number of flu cases. I can’t take the flu shot because I am sensitive to it and even if I did, it is still a gamble if it will work or not, in my experience, it just gives me the flu.

I have been a little worried about being out in public. I feel like a paranoid fool, but there have been several people already die this year from the flu. Since my immune system is compromised, I get sick very easily. When I get sick, it generally takes me twice as long as an average person to get over it. Also, it seems that when one thing hits me, it opens the window for half a dozen other things.

Once one thing knocks down my immune system, it’s like I have no defense against anything and every other bug that’s going around hits one after another. For example, I can have my seasonal allergies act up; it turns into a sinus infection, which turns into an ear infection. Then on top of all that, I might get a urinary tract infection and, of course, my Lupus flares up leading to increased pain, headaches, and fatigue. So saying that I am walking around in fear right now is not an understatement.

When you have an autoimmune disease like Lupus or Fibromyalgia, you find yourself afraid of many things that would never cause worry for most people.Every cashier that checks me out I am sizing up for symptoms of illness and everyone I come into contact with too. Don’t get me wrong. I am not walking around like a crazy germaphobe. But, those thoughts are in the back of my mind, and part of me does wish that I could walk around in a hazmat suit with a giant Lysol sprayer.

Vitamin C

There are some things you can do to help decrease your chances of getting sick. If you can tolerate it and it does not go against your medical plan, you can take vitamin C supplements.

You can also increase foods that are high in vitamin C like; Strawberries, kiwi, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, pineapple, mango, and broccoli to name a few. Most automatically go for oranges, but honestly, these foods are actually higher in vitamin C.

Wash and Watch Your Hands

The most important thing to keep you safe is thorough hand washing and remembering to be mindful of where you put your hands. The flu is so prevalent at the moment, so, I find myself putting my hands in my pockets and only touching what I have to when I’m in public. I am also mindful not to touch my face before washing hands. I also keep hand sanitizer with me at all times.

Dealing with Germs at Work

I work in a busy office with 15 or more full-time people. I work for a home health company, so naturally, I work with many other nurses that are seeing sick patients. So, I have the threat of being in close quarters with someone who is sick themselves or are carrying germs from a sick family member or a sick patient. Last week, one of my co-workers came in sick which put me on high alert.

I am doing good hand washing. I use hand sanitizer each time I come back into my office after using the office tools like the copier or fax machine. My hand sanitizer is living on my desk. Lucky for me, I have a door to my office, so, I am now keeping it closed. I also have an essential oil diffuser going non-stop while I am at work.

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils have proven to be very useful in fighting germs and illness. There are many to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites: oregano, tea tree oil, clove oil, basil, rosemary, and I like to add peppermint and eucalyptus oils for sent and clearer breathing. I typically will use two or three drops of each in my diffuser.

Please keep in mind there are precautions to take with using essential oils, and you should make sure you do your homework before jumping in. Some oils are not safe for babies, pregnant women, or people with issues like seizures. Please keep this in mind and look up any warnings before using any new essential oils. I have several great pins on Pinterest about using essential oils along with other good info on my Living With Lupus board.

Other Helpful Tips

Make sure you get plenty of rest. You need to make sure you are eating a healthy diet. Rest and diet help give the body energy to fight sickness. One undeniable thing is to stay away from sick people, if possible. If you have to be near a sick person, be sure to wear a mask. You can even wear a mask in public if you are worried about being exposed to something. Do you have any tips for avoiding illness? Join the discussion in the comments below!

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Being a wounded healer means being able to share your story with others so that they are comfortable trusting you with theirs.
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