Friday, December 4, 2015

Staying Healthy Through the Winter #humidifyme



yep, I am dressed as Doc McStuffins because that's how I roll...
Today I'm coming to you wearing my lab coat, because I'm all about staying healthy and fit this winter! I've already been seeing a ton of sick kids in the clinic and it isn't even flu season yet. I don't know about you, but I don't like getting sick, nor do I have time for illness. If I have to miss a day of work, there's no one to see my patients, which means a lot of cancelations. Plus I don't like missing a day of running. A lot of people ask me what I do to stay healthy, and I wanted to share some of my advice with you.

1. Wash your hands. You all know this. Wash your hands as soon as you get home from anywhere. Before you eat. After you use the bathroom. But what is the best way to wash your hands? Warm water, lather with soap and rub all surfaces for at least 20 seconds, rinse, dry your hands, and turn off the faucet using the towel. What about hand sanitizers? Hand sanitizers are a good back up plan but they do not eliminate all germs--particularly norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. This is the culprit behind those nasty cruise ship illnesses. So all those hand sanitizers on the ship? Not all that helpful. Just wash your hands with soap and water. And keep your hands away from your face.


2. Get a flu shot. Trying to convince patients to get the flu shot makes me feel like a used car salesman. I know that about 50% of you are going to comment on this one. You're going to tell me that you "got sick" the last time you got a flu shot. Or that you "don't believe in the flu shot". Or that you "never get the flu". No matter what you think, you can't dispute the fact that the flu shot decreases your chance of getting the flu. If you do get the flu, most likely you will have a milder course of the illness. And you will be preventing the spread of the flu. Oh, and by the way, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.


3. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. As if you have to convince me to get sleep, there are actually people who fight this recommendation. Besides all the other benefits of sleep, lack of sleep actually impairs your immune system and in one study, demonstrated that less than 6 hours of sleep makes more susceptible to illness.


4. Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Oh, if I had a dollar for every patient who told me they don't like veggies. The ones who don't like fruit I don't even understand. While there's no magic nutritional bullet to keep you healthy, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of a diet that is heavy in "minimally processed food, close to nature, predominantly plants". There are a lot of you bloggers out there doing it right. Me, I could do better here.


5. Stress reduction. Multiple studies show the deleterious effects that stress has on the immune system. Short term stress can lead to increased susceptibility to illness. Raising teenagers is extremely stressful. Even though, I run to burn off stress, endurance events count as a stressor. About a week after that last marathon I ran, I came down with a nasty bug. Luckily, I bounced back quickly. Yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and relaxation can all help reduce stress. I found this nifty blog post last week--she has a great technique for a 2 minute meditation.


6. Use a humidifier in your home. We have a humidifier on our furnace, but sometimes even that isn't enough. The air in the house can get pretty dry. Dry air can affect the cilia in your nose, which are one of your defenses against the viruses that cause illnesses. Using a humidifier can help keep those cilia moist. Research also shows that the influenza virus survives better in dry conditions.

Recently, I was sent this Honeywell Console Humidifier from Influenster to try out. Even though I received the humidifier free to trial, all opinions here are my own. 

When FedEx brought the box, I felt like Santa came. It was huge. I was pretty excited to open it.


The Honeywell Top Fill Console Humidifier is perfect for this time of year. For most of us, during the winter, the windows are closed and the furnace is running. The air is dry in our homes. This humidifier is designed to provide invisible mist to extra large rooms or multiple rooms. There are three speeds and an automatic shut off once the desired humidity level is reached. The two tank design makes it easy to fill and clean. On low settings, the humidifier can run for 24 hours. And it comes in white and black.

I really liked the ease of setup--once I took the humidifier out of the box, it was easy to fill the tanks and turn it on. Within 5 minutes, the moisture was misting out of the device, although the mist isn't easy to see, you can feel it. Even though the humidifier is rather large, it's quiet, and you kind of forget about it once it's going. Actually, it makes the home environment so comfortable that you don't even realize it's working. 

Besides the health benefits, my skin gets really dry (can you say wrinkles?) in the winter, and the extra moisture is really beneficial. 

I don't see any downsides to this humidifier. You can purchase it on Amazon or Walmart.com.

What do you do to stay healthy in the winter? 

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta for their Friday Five link up! Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar host this awesome link up. Be sure to check it out! 
I'm also linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Fridays! She's talking about Making Time for Fitness, which fits in nicely with my staying healthy theme. Check it out!



65 comments :

  1. I get my flu shot. I am always amazed at how many people won't get it, or think it is a conspiracy... big sigh.

    I didn't realize norovirus could withstand hand sanitizer! Yikes! I try to alternate between hand washing and hand sani at work.

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    1. Yep. You have to use soap and water to get rid of that bug. And only bleach kills it, not lysol. It's a nasty bug and lives on surfaces for days. Whenever I see a kid who's been vomiting, I wipe my stethoscope with bleach wipes.

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    2. I'm with Christy - I really had no idea about hand san. I wash my hands, but assumed that if I had just been in the office touching shared phones etc then a quick squirt of hand san would be enough :-S

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    3. You would think...for most bugs. But that most virulent of bugs, the norovirus, not so much. Your best best is soap and water. And bleach wipes for the phone.

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  2. I have become a broken record about the handwashing in our house. We shall see if it helps this year :-) :-)

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    1. Those school age kids have a tough time--the school is like a petri dish!

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  3. Ugh. I wash my hands and got a flu shot - getting sleep and reducing stress are much more challenging!

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    1. The stress reduction thing really eludes me!

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  4. Great list. I'm with you on most of this. Sleep has been a big priority. My husband had the flu over Thanksgiving - for like 5 days! I managed to steer clear with just a headache and a little fatigue, so I feel like I've been taking care of myself pretty well.

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    1. Sleep is one of my favorite things to do, so it's definitely a priority for me too!

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  5. My humidifier (Puffington the Penguin) runs nonstop through the winter. And I fall asleep on the couch at like 9 every night before we go to bed, so I definitely get my z's! It's easy when it is pitch black outside at 4. Such an asshole move.

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    1. Why couldn't this humidifier have been a penguin one? Altho I'm giving it to my mom and dad for their Wisconsin house, and maybe they wouldn't care much for a penguin?

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  6. Suz and I are humid penguin twins. I swear washing your hands is so simple yet so important.

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    1. I wash my hands at least 100 times/day when I'm working. Not OCD, unless you count illness prevention!

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  7. I know we absolutely need a humidifier -- my nails just crack all winter long & as soon as it's spring and there's more humidity, I can't stop them from growing, so I know it's just the cold/dryness.

    But it's yet another thing to clean . . . and it ain't like the hubby is going to do it, either.

    Great tips! Thank you NP Wendy. :)

    Oh, and tea during the winter. And home made soup. Lots of both!

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    1. Oh yes, tea with honey! My #1 recommendation for coughs. Everyone wants a prescription, but really, honey is the best! And chicken soup.

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  8. Love all this info (from an educated source, none the less)! I'm kind of an anti-sanitizer person. I have no medical (or scientific basis), but I think the hand sanitizers give people a false sense of security, and they are so drying to my skin (and the smell makes me gag). I think we have a humidifier with our furnace, but my skin is always dry, year-round. UGH.

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    1. We have a humidifier on our furnace, but yep, my skin is dry, dry, dry in the winter!

      I'm not a hand sanitizer person at all. Personally, I think they are a placebo...

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  9. I wash my hands a lot and I always get a shower and change my clothes when I get home from work. I don't know if a shower really helps with germs/sickness, but I feel disgusting after teaching all day and just need to feel CLEAN. Luckily, I have never been knocked down from the flu. The worst I get is cold that lasts 2-3 days. It is frustrating trying to sing and talk all day long when that happens, so I try not to be a hero and just STAY HOME from work because the only way I get better faster is with rest.

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    1. As soon as I get home, my shoes come off and they stay by the back door. When I worked as a staff nurse, I used to drop my scrubs on the floor in the laundry room. Now I wear a lab coat and I take it home weekly to wash it. I probably should do it daily!

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  10. SLEEP - yes to all the sleep possible. Also, there are people that don't like fruit?!!?! :) I have used a humidifier in the past but it got full of deposits quickly leaked all over the place. I like to use a saline nasal gel before bed during the dryer months.

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    1. The saline nasal gel is amazing! I tell my patients who are prone to nosebleeds to either use that or vaseline on a qtip to keep the nasal passages moist.

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  11. Yes to all of it! I am also a strong believer in the flu shot because of the SCIENCE behind it. I get the preservative free and not the mist which I understand is the live virus. I also have to get it now because of my asthma... I am good to go for this year. Now to get the family this weekend!

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    1. The mist is a weakened form of the live virus. I've received both forms of the flu shot for the last 20+ years and have had no issues, no flu.

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  12. I suffer from "seasonal" allergies all year (lol) so my humidifier has been a total life saver!

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  13. Ugh. I got violently sick on Thanksgiving night. I had a bit of a cold the previous week, but to come on so fast, I think it had to be the flu, despite having had my shot in early October. I'm still coughing and dealing with the exhaustion. Every day after work this week I've had meetings, appointments, etc. I'm looking forward to staying put over the weekend and hopefully getting over it.

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    1. Probably not the real influenza, not yet. We're not seeing much of it .You can track it on the CDCs website. They have a pretty cool flu tracker map. But there's plenty of imposters floating around...

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  14. I'm in the no flu shot crowd. The only time I had the flu shot I got the flu. My skin cracks not wrinkles in the winter.

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    1. Ugh to the skin cracking. I use lots of thick lube on my hands at bedtime.

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  15. I love the humidifier recommendation. I don;t use one right now, maybe I should. I tend to wash my hands obsessively because I am allergic to the darn flu shot. Last year my arm blew up like balloon...
    Sleep, I love sleep.

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    1. Who doesn't love sleep? I don't get those people...

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  16. WASH YOUR HANDS. So important. I hate when my husband comes in the house and goes into the kitchen without washing his hands! That's how illness spreads!

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    1. After 27 years of marriage, I've got my man all trained. At least with the hand washing.

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  17. I need to get my flu shot - thanks for the reminder! Humidifiers help so much in the winter, and I'm also a huge believer in spending time outside and getting fresh air rather than breathing the same recirculated air all day.

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    1. I really agree with you about the fresh air! I think that a daily dose of fresh air really helps keep me healthy, both physically and mentally!

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  18. I need a humidifier in my apartment so badly. Our apartment gets so dry. I'm also religious about washing my hands. The NYC subways are just... bleh!

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    1. I make the humidifier recommendation to everyone I see in my clinic with colds and allergies.

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  19. I wash my hands all the time - pretty much every time I walk in the door, in addition to normal bathroom washing and pre-cooking washing. I still need my flu shot. I've tried twice (once they wouldn't give it to me because of the bronchitis, the second time the wait was too long. Soon.) And I'm always thankful for radiator heat - our house doesn't get as dry as many houses do during the winter.

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    1. I had that bronchitis too! Got my flu shot as soon as I was better.

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  20. That pic of the racoon is too cute! Getting a flu shot always scare me so I never get one. Luckily I haven't gotten the flu yet in many yrs. I do wash my hands non stop all the time. That must help.

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  21. So many simple things go such a long way when it comes to staying healthy in the winter. Its amazing how many people don't do simple things like washing their hands!

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    1. I'm all about those home remedies. And yes, just wash your hands!

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  22. Ahhh yes, the flu shot. I can't believe how many people don't get them!! So as for the humidifier, they are great but you need to make sure you clean them religiously otherwise they can be more harmful than good ,no?

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    1. Yep, that is true. I tell all the parents I see to do that. But whether or not they do it? No one listens to me.. :p

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  23. I have not got a flu shot and I am so surprised that I haven't got sick yet ( I work at a school)!

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    1. Don't jinx it! No flu sightings yet...

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  24. You know I am a big an of the flu shot and washing your hands! We had to use a humidifier when I was a kid living in Indiana - don't need that in Florida! Cheers to a healthy winter!

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    1. Yeah, probably no need for humidity where you are! LOL!

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  25. Just broke out the humidifier yesterday. It's a winter staple for the bedrooms in our house.

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    1. The dry air really is uncomfortable, isn't it?

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  26. Great reminder!!! We have a humidifier on our furnace too but extra ones in the kids rooms. Helps a ton!! Hoping my kids stay healthy all winter... we use essential oils here too and they help a ton!

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    1. A lot of people have told me about essential oils! I need to learn more.

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  27. All good tips Dr Wendy! We are all about the flu shot around here and got it months ago. A humidifier is key it's the cleaning it that sucks. Have a great weekend

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    1. I think this one is easy to clean! That is key for me.

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  28. I'm happy that you highlight the importance of sleep. I won't get on my soapbox but good - quality and quantity sleep is tied to everything! Quantity of 7.5-8.5 hours on average. Hopefully, we are changing the mindset that sleep is an area were we can compromise. We can't. Nice headstand!

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  29. I would also suggest disinfecting light switches, laptops, phones and remote controls with a disinfecting wipe !

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  30. Yesssss to all of these things!!! Thank you for this post!

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  31. I have a small humidifier that I keep in my room. That reminds me that I need to get it from the attic. That picture of the raccoon washing his hands made me smile. I've never gotten the flu shot.

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    1. I'm surprised you don't get the flu shot, since you are with little kids all day!

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  32. Great list. I'm with you on most of this. Sleep has been a big priority. My husband had the flu over Thanksgiving - for like 5 days! I managed to steer clear with just a headache and a little fatigue, so I feel like I've been taking care of myself pretty well.
    Lucy @ Humidifier For Baby

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