Be sure to take care of your own health

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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It’s important to monitor your own health while taking care of others. Many in our community have trusted us to take care of them but as we have mentioned before, self-health is something we must be mindful of as well. Staying well ourselves is vital to our mission and that can include boosting our own immune system. Here are 7 ways to fight off possible infections by boosting your immune system:

The best way to deal with any medical condition, including COVID-19, is by using prevention. It’s important that we do whatever we can to avoid getting sick, and that includes washing your hands thoroughly, regularly and effectively. Many viruses are transmitted by your own hands.

Establish (or continue) an exercise routine. Regular exercise has been shown to keep your immune system functioning at top levels. When you’re physically active, you can keep pathogens out of your lungs and airways, minimizing illness. If you have a current routine you’re following, don’t let up on it. If you don’t, it might be a good time to begin.

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Minimize stress. When you experience stress, it can release the hormone cortisol, boosting inflammation and actually suppressing your immune system, making it less effective. Many studies have shown those reporting the least amount of stress were also the least likely to get infections.

Maintain an adequate amount of sleep. This doesn’t only mean getting the right number of hours of shuteye, but also doing what you can do to ensure quality sleep as well. One reason for this: Sleep-deprived patients are more likely to develop an illness after exposure to a virus. Aim for 6-7 hours of quality sleep per night.

Drink less alcohol. Limiting alcohol consumption may mean a more restful night, but that’s not all. Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption leads to an increase in respiratory infections and impaired immune responses. Consider drinking moderately, up to one drink a day for women or two per day for men, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Vaccinate against other infections. It is possible to get more than one infection simultaneously — and it’s also dangerous. If you contracted the flu on top of COVID-19, for example, it would mean a much more complex medical situation.

Stop smoking/vaping. As a general rule, anything you put in your lungs unnecessarily is going to lead to a higher likelihood of respiratory infection.

Support a healthy immune system. Eating healthy is important. A healthy gut will allow you to fight infections more effectively. Support your immune system by adding foods rich in vitamins A, C and D as well as zinc into your dietary regimen. Consume them often — at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Remember to Wear your mask, Watch your distance and Wash your hands. We can beat this !!

Rick E Smith, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer of Troy Regional Medical Center.