Because HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) compromises your immune system, you are more susceptible to wintertime bugs, and those bugs—even the common cold—can present serious health risks. Being proactive about your wintertime health can stave off many of the most common winter illnesses.
Although it’s debatable as to whether or not dips in body temperature actually increase your risk for catching a cold, it’s best not to take the chance. More importantly, bundling up can increase your personal comfort and help keep chills—a common side effect of many medications and a consequence of significant weight loss—at bay.
Wash Your Hands
By far, the most important step you can take to preventing illness is to wash your hands…but you have to do it right.
- Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap
- Lather the soap over your entire hands—including between your fingers and the backs of your hands up to your wrists (at minimum) or elbows (even better).
- Rub the soap for 20-30 seconds (about the time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
- Rinse with warm water
- Thoroughly pat and/or air dry
While hand sanitizer is a good alternative in a pinch, we encourage hand washing over sanitizing. Hand sanitizer’s high alcohol content dries out skin, leading to cracks, which leave your skin open to infection.
Boost Vitamin and Probiotic Intake
Maintaining a balanced diet is imperative to get the immune-boosting nutrients you need. Unfortunately, wintertime produce and processed foods have significantly less vital nutrients, including antioxidants and vitamins. To ensure you are getting the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need, take a daily multivitamin or combination of nutrient supplements. Your practitioner at UNM Truman Health Services can recommend quality products.
In order for your body to effectively use the nutrients you are consuming in food and supplements, you need to ensure your gut flora is up to the task. A probiotic can increase good bacteria populations for optimal nutrient absorption.