The Best Way to Help: Preventing Cold and Flu
I'm fortunate to have some very caring people in my life who offer to help me when they see my psoriatic arthritis flaring. Most times, I ask for help with chores that cause a lot of pain, like carrying groceries. But a few days ago, my boyfriend confided in me that he wishes there was some way he could actually help me get better - not just doing a task for me. After giving it some thought, I realized the best help you can give to someone with psoriatic arthritis: protect them from colds and flu!
How does that help?
Since psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, anything that causes the immune system to change can cause pain. Some people find colds can cause flare-ups like I do. Additionally, many people with PsA are treated with medications that lower the immune system. They make it hard to fight infections, making things like a simple cold last for weeks. They also make the flu and other infectious diseases even more dangerous than they already are. Overall, it's best for individuals with PsA to avoid getting sick.
What to do
There are lots of ways to help loved ones stay with PsA stay healthy. The best thing you can do is keep a safe distance while you're sick, if possible. When that's not possible, partners and roommates can help by changing linens extra often, cleaning handles and door knobs, leaving street shoes at the door, and by washing their hands when entering the house. Parents with PsA have a harder time avoiding getting sick since kids pick up a ton of germs at school. Cleaning shared surfaces like kitchen tables after each use and teaching kids to cough and sneeze into their sleeve helps cut down on the spread of colds. Giving backpacks a quick spray with Lysol every so often isn't a bad idea either.
Friends in the workplace and at school can also do their part. Staying home when you're sick is the best way to prevent germs from spreading. When it's impossible to take a sick day, please be extra cautious. Wiping down shared workspaces, lunch tables, and keyboards after using them helps tremendously.
Getting the flu shot could prevent your loved one from getting seriously ill. While there is a lot of discussion about whether the vaccine is helpful, the CDC highly recommends people with health conditions get a flu shot. However, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of germs. But, this is only the CDC's advice. It should be something to consider, even if you decide not to get one.
A breath of fresh air
Many of my friends with autoimmune diseases work tirelessly to keep from getting sick, especially when they're taking certain medicines or are wary of flares. It's common for them to wash their hands often or wipe down shared eating surfaces (or forgoing them all together). Seeing others do their part is a breath of fresh air for them! It feels good to know the environment is cleaner, healthier, and safer for everyone.
While carrying a bag for someone will help in the short term, helping them stay healthy will prevent pain and flares. And in the case of the flu, it will help them stay safe. If you really love someone with psoriatic arthritis, help them stay healthy during cold and flu seasons.
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