My lungs are like katamair damacy rolling up all the ick it passes.
June 22, 2007 7:15 AM   Subscribe

What is your action plan for staying well?

I am sick right now, I have a run of the mill icky chest infection, that has progressed to my ears and throat, ick. I get sick, a lot. Last summer I contracted both pneumonia and strep throat. I tend to get strep every year and pneumonia about every two years. I even get the pneumonia shot in the winter, but by the summer time maybe it wears out or something.

I have a poor immune system, I don't make much gamma gobulin. I am not even sure what that means except I feel awesome when I get shots of gamma gobulin.

I want to be more proactive about staying well, what do you do to accomplish this? Supplements? Exercise? Shunning public life :) ?
posted by stormygrey to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Get obsessive about washing your hands. Think about all the people who flushed that public toilet before you did… now you’re rubbing your eyes. Someone sneezed right before they grabbed the bar on the subway. Now you’re grabbing the same bar. This is how cooties spread. You don’t have to get all OCD about it, just do it more often, especially before you eat.

Learn about food safety. Clean the raw chicken off the cutting board before you cut the carrots for the salad.

Those two things will do a lot more for your well-being than any amount of omegabluegreenginsingwhatever supplements.

Before I learned these things I used to get sick all the time. Since learning them I’m hardly ever sick and when I am sick it’s almost never as bad as it used to be.

And, of course, try to get enough nutrition and exercise. Eat your veggies, etc.
posted by bondcliff at 7:27 AM on June 22, 2007

seconding good nutrition, exercise, and handwashing.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:28 AM on June 22, 2007

You stated that you feel great after getting the gamma globulin shots (which work to boost your immune system), so your first step should be to talk to your doctor about possibly altering your shot schedule (maybe you could get the shots more often?).
posted by amyms at 7:35 AM on June 22, 2007

Do you smoke? If so, stop.
posted by cog_nate at 7:39 AM on June 22, 2007

I am a strong believer that the more obsessed one is about protecting themselves from germs, dirt, etc., the weaker their immune system gets. Don't get me wrong, I would not go and lick my toilet seat or kitchen sink, but I don't peel fruits, I don't care at all about expiration date on food (yogurt, meat, fish, etc.), etc. I do exercise (running about 20 miles a week) and eat a lot of fresh food (I barely buy any processed food), too.

Now, maybe I'm very lucky, but when I look around me, the most careful people are always the weakest. It might be a chicken-and-egg issue, though...
posted by V-Turn at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yep, hand washing. I used to get sick several times each winter. Last winter I kept a bottle of Purell in my car and "washed" my hands every single time I got in the car from a public place. And I never got sick. For the first time ever. I also wash my hands before I eat and before I touch my face, if I can.
posted by robinpME at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2007

Exercise. Lots of fresh vegetables (fried doesn't count!). Stress reduction. Washing my hands often (for at least 20 seconds each time). Getting enough sleep. Trying to stay happy.

I find that when I live in hot temperatures and live or work in really air-conditioned buildings, I'll get sick in the summer. Whether it's mold in the AC or just the constant temperature extremes, I'm not sure (I suspect the latter), but I try to keep the inside temperature and outside temperature as close to each other as possible/comfortable all year round.

Avoiding people with young children, and young children themselves, also tends to help, but that's neither practical nor very nice.
posted by occhiblu at 7:46 AM on June 22, 2007

Oh, and re: V-Turn, I don't think the handwashing is about being obsessed or depriving my immune system of exercise. It's just about not shoving someone's freshly sneezed cold virus into my eyeball.
posted by robinpME at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2007

Soap, water and Purell
posted by caddis at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2007

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. When I started staying up too late and waking up too early, I got my first nasty cold in years.
posted by muddgirl at 8:14 AM on June 22, 2007

Do you know how much sleep you need? I mention this because I get sick often if I don't consistently sleep for 9 hours a night. I don't know a lot of people who sleep that much, but I have to.
posted by medusa at 8:28 AM on June 22, 2007

Politicians these days don't leave home without an antibacterial hand-washing gel.

Sleep is also much more important to the immune system than most people recognize.

Add some basic exercise if you don't. Walking for 20-30 minutes a day, for instance.

Make sure your diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, and cut down on meat, especially red meat. Don't replace that with starches, though.

Drink water instead of milk, juice or whatever. If you drink alcohol, prefer wine.
posted by dhartung at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2007

Look for a gentle yoga class. The breathing techniques and gentle stretching will do you worlds of good. I've been practicing for a year now and feel great.
posted by philad at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2007

Disinfect your keyboard (in fact, your whole desk). It's probably dirtier than your toilet.
posted by mullingitover at 12:32 PM on June 22, 2007

My allergist gave me a shot that immunizes one to certain common bacterias. It's usually only given to children, the elderly, or people with seriously compromised immune systems. However, he gives it to his patients who have sinuses that tend to be unusually good at trapping bacteria.

I have gotten sick frequently since getting those shots . . . unfortunately, I have no idea what they were called.
posted by treepour at 1:56 PM on June 22, 2007

Hand sanitizer. Not actually hand washing per se, as that will dry your skin and cause cracking and decrease your germ resistance.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:37 PM on June 22, 2007

Best answer: You might want to see if one if your intimates could be a strep carrier. According to MedlinePlus:

If repeated cases of strep still occur in a family, you might check to see if someone is a strep carrier. Carriers have strep in their throats, but the bacteria do not make them sick. Sometimes, treating them can prevent others from getting strep throat.

I'm very curious about your statement that you don't have much gamma globulin. According to the Wikipedia article:

Gamma globulin infusions are also used to treat immunological diseases, such as immunological thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), a disease in which the platelets are being attacked by antibodies, leading to seriously low platelet counts. Gamma globulin apparently causes the spleen to ignore the antibody-tagged platelets, thus allowing them to survive and function.

Another theory on how gamma globulin administration works in autoimmune disease is by overloading the mechanisms which degrade gamma globulins. Over loading the degradation mechanism causes the harmful gamma globulins to have a much shorter halflife in sera.

If gamma globulin makes you feel so much better, it would seem to make sense to be evaluated for autoimmune conditions.

Also, even though the MedLineplus article I linked above asserts that carriers of strep do not get sick from it themselves, I am not convinced that such people cannot have an outbreak. Another article I glanced at claims that carriers do not get arthritis or rheumatic fever from their strep, and since those are common complications of strep infection involving attacks on the joints and the heart, respectively, by the immune system, one might guess being a carrier could tend to depress some functions of the immune system, which would be especially interesting in your case, if you do indeed have a degree of immune insufficiency.

You can be tested for carrier status by having a throat culture done when you are not ill. If it is positive for strep, you are considered to be a carrier.
posted by jamjam at 2:49 PM on June 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!

JamJam, I have not been all the way worked up for autoimmune disorders, I was given the kinda made up diagnosis of "hypogammaglobualeranemia". Ha! I really should look into that. I mean I am very sensitive and or allergic to lots of random things and when my allergies are really bad I am super fatigued.
posted by stormygrey at 3:58 PM on June 22, 2007

I can't believe this many people believe that hand sanitizer stuff is the way to stay healthy. All that "antibacterial" stuff just seems like a really successful example of marketing to me.
posted by loiseau at 2:35 AM on June 23, 2007

Loiseau, for the immunocompromised it is useful. If you are usually healthy to begin with, less so.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:24 AM on June 23, 2007

To add on to what loiseau said... antibacterial products like soap and hand-sanitizers do more harm than good

"Antibacterial soaps and ointments, for example, may be unintentionally creating germs that are resistant to antibiotics. Eventually, our antibiotics may not do much of anything to slow the spread of these types of germs and the diseases they cause."
posted by MrBCID at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2007

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