September marks Canadian Arthritis Awareness Month. As the chilly season approaches — and cases of cold and flu, RSV, and COVID-19 rise, we connected with our Canadian Arthritis Patient Council to gather insights tailored for this time of year. In collaboration with the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA), we’ve also compiled essential advice for those immunocompromised during cold and flu season.
Read the tips below and work with your health care provider to keep yourself strong and healthy during the season ahead.
Vaccines save lives and can help reduce the risk of more severe symptoms if you fall ill. October is a great time of year to get up to date on your flu, COVID-19, and RSV vaccines if you are able. If you are someone who experiences an increase in your arthritis symptoms after a vaccine, try to schedule your appointment during a time when you don’t have work or plans so you can rest and recover.
Ask your health care provider if you are unsure whether you’re up to date on the latest vaccines. In many provinces you can go online and check your vaccine as well as find tips for receiving your shots while on certain medications.
Wear a Mask
Mask fatigue is real, but it is an actionable step you can take to help protect yourself and others. According to the World Health Organization, masking is proven to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses and can help limit the spread of COVID-19.
A recent poll conducted jointly by the Global Healthy Living Foundation and CAPA found the majority of people polled (n=2851) would wear a mask in the following circumstances:
- In indoor spaces (57.77%)
- On public transportation (61.66%)
- At indoor events (52.68%)
Ask Before Getting Together
If you’re getting together with family members and friends, ask them beforehand how they are feeling (e.g. under the weather) or if they’ve been exposed to anyone with an illness. Consider asking them to take a COVID-19 test before you get together. That way, you’re taking an extra step to protect yourself while also helping to ensure everyone else in the group is protected as well.
Lean on Your Peers
Whether in groups or just talking one-on-one, peer support helps people share information and can help you feel less alone. Be sure to check in with your peers and lean on them for support, especially when facing cold and flu season and navigating everything from pandemic and mask fatigue to family holidays.
Focus on Healthy Eating
With the rising cost of food and inflation, it can be even more of a struggle to eat healthy. However, even during the cold months, there are ways to maintain a healthy diet without straining your budget, including:
- Making a meal plan
- Buying frozen instead of fresh produce
- Considering canned options and beans as a key source of protein when meat is expensive (if you eat meat)
Get Informed About Home Remedies
For people living with inflammatory arthritis, some supplements and vitamins may not be good to take if you have a cold or the flu. They may interfere with your medications. Be sure to talk to your health care provider before starting any supplement or vitamin outside of your regular treatment routine.
Sleep is important for your immune system, especially when you are immunocompromised. Give your body time to rest and prioritize sleep, when possible, to keep your mind and body operating as well as possible.
If you are experiencing sleep problems after having COVID-19, check out these additional tips.
Be as Active as You Can Be
A regular movement routine can help strengthen your immune system, whether that includes simple exercises done while seated or walking a couple days a week. September leads into the busy holiday season so it is important to establish a physical activity routine now before things pick up speed.
Click here to print our two-page tip sheet to discuss with your health care provider and share with loved ones.
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Part of the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation, CreakyJoints is a digital community for millions of arthritis patients and caregivers worldwide who seek education, support, advocacy, and patient-centered research. All of our programming and services are always provided free of charge. As we grow CreakyJoints Canada we want to hear from you. Please join our email list to stay connected, learn about new content and initiatives, and send us suggestions and ideas.