Flu Season Fixes When your spouse is suffering from a cold or flu, help them heal while avoiding getting sick yourself. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
Follow these tips to ditch the sniffles.
Itchy throats, stuffy noses, aches and pains: yup, it’s flu season. And when your partner gets a nasty virus, finding ways to make them feel better—and ways for you to not get the bug—are top priority. So what can you do?
First, be sympathetic. "Everything gets exaggerated when you’re sick," says Jackie Keller, nutrition expert and wellness coach who founded Los Angeles-based healthy food company NutriFit. "Either a relationship becomes very nurturing and supportive, or it becomes resentful."
While you know you should feel kindly toward your sniffly spouse, you may start feeling a bit too much like a nurse—or worse, mom. Being clear about your expectations up front and sharing with each other how you like to be treated when you’re under the weather—which usually relates back to how you were treated as a kid—can help you understand each other better.
And if you’re getting frustrated because the illness is dragging out over a long period of time, “Remind yourself that your partner is sick and their behavior is borne from the illness,” says Keller. Then put a plan into action that can help your partner feel better faster.
Make some soup. Though it’s the most commonly of home cure for sickness, it certainly can’t hurt. Plus, a cup of chicken or vegetable soup is easy to digest, and the hot liquid can help with the chills.
If it’s just a cold, get your partner to move around during the daytime. As a rule of thumb, getting plenty of sleep when you’re sick is good but, “Encourage them not to ‘bed rest’ a cold,” says Keller. “Moving around helps loosen built up mucous and fluids.” If your partner has a fever or is under-slept, though, let them stay put. Also be sure to help out with their share of chores.
Use a humidifier. "Dry air makes cold symptoms that much more unbearable," says Suzy Cohen, author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist, "but using a humidifier or vaporizer adds moisture to the air and keeps your respiratory passages clear."
Practice healthy habits. Just because your spouse is sick doesn’t mean it’s time for 24/7 cookies and ice cream. Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants as well as getting plenty of fluids can do wonders for the body. “Don’t be afraid to experiment with natural products,” says Keller.
And don’t forget to practice healthy habits that’ll keep you from picking up your spouse’s illness, too. You want to get this virus out of your home as quickly as possible, and all it takes is some common sense.
Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and sneeze into your elbow to avoid the spread of germs. Also avoid sharing food and drinks, and maintain a healthy diet of your own, says Cohen, who also recommends taking Cold-eeze, drinking green tea and taking probiotics, which she says are “natural, ‘friendly’ bacteria.”
Keller also suggests taking Echinacea but warns that, at the onset of an illness, you shouldn’t play doctor. “Don’t assume you know what’s wrong,” she says. “You can go down the wrong path and end up prolonging the illness.” If you’re having doubts about your self-diagnosis, Keller recommends calling your doctor or consulting a nurses’ hotline.