Don’t crash out this Christmas: how to avoid festive bugs

Monday, December 22, 2014

We've all experienced it. Your much-anticipated Christmas break arrives… and you fall ill, it's not the way anyone wants to spend Christmas. Here's how to reduce the chances of it happening this year.

Festive Bugs - sick teddyAs winter starts to take hold, we're all more prone to bugs - but it seems we're particularly vulnerable at Christmas, when we relax and let our defences down. The common cold is often to blame, but so is 'leisure sickness'.

Here are the best ways to avoid them.

Cold comforts

We're more prone to colds at this time of year because we spend more time indoors where the germs are more easily spread. Here's how to minimise the effects. 

• Wash those hands!

An effective way to avoid getting a cold is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and keep your hands away from your nose and eyes, where germs can enter your body. Cold viruses can live on surfaces for several days.

• Take zinc

The jury is still out on Vitamin C and echinacea, but zinc has been shown to help boost your immune system and shorten the duration of colds in adults. Good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, dairy foods and cereals - but you can also take it as a supplement.

• Chicken soup can help

It helps to ease congestion, and some studies suggest it can alleviate an inflammatory response that results in feeling bunged-up, while the protein and vegetables can help to boost your strength to fight off the cold.

• Drink plenty of fluids

This advice is always trotted out because it's true - you need to replace the moisture that's used up in a runny nose and perspiration when you have a cold.

Why Christmas can make you sick

Back in the summer, we discovered leisure sickness, the name given to the phenomenon that makes you ill as soon as you relax. You're more likely to fall victim to it if you're very busy and stressed in the lead-up to Christmas, but it's not too late to avoid it. Act now:

• Take a short time out

Leisure sickness happens because our body hasn't had the chance to relax and switch off. Train yourself to relax for a while every day, even if it's just for a short time, in the run-up to Christmas. Even just stopping for a few moments when you finish a task to stretch and take a few deep breaths will make a difference within days.

• Go to sleep

Tiredness is partly to blame, so try to get to bed a little bit earlier as often as you can between now and Christmas. It gives your body more time to relax and recover so it's less likely to force you into a big rest by making you feel ill later on.

• Make time for the nice stuff

Paying more attention to other aspects of life outside whatever deadlines you're trying to meet will be beneficial, even if it's just a five-minute phone call to a good friend. Anything that gives you that short space of relaxation will help.

We hope you have a healthy Christmas - but don't forget that if you are a Foresters member, the  GP Consultation Service is on hand if you do get ill.

This blog is intended for information only, and should not be used as medical guidance.  If you are ill, you should always seek advice from a qualified health professional.


Sources

NHS Choices

Boots Web MD

Mail Online - Souper broth!  An old wives' tale?

 
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