Doctors prescribe a lot of treatments and preventative measures for us during cold and flu season, but what bug-beating methods do they practice on themselves?
If you’ve ever wanted to ask a doctor this question, or take a peek behind the scenes at a professional’s personal healthcare routine, we’ve got you covered. We asked a handful of doctors — across various disciplines– to share how they prevent illness all winter long. Ultimately, you’ll find it’s the simplest things that are most effective when it comes to how doctors beat cold and flu symptoms.
Wash Hands (A Lot)
“I get asked this question all the time,” says Peter Prutch, NP-C, Ph.D, who practices at Family Centered Medicine in Denver, Colorado. He insists that germ-busting is the biggest key to prevention. “I take 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily, along with a multivitamin — but I think the key to not getting sick is washing your hands. With each patient, I wash my hands four times: once before I enter the room, once before I examine the patient, once again after the exam, and once when I leave the room. We also spray Lysol after each patient, and I do request [that] my patients who are coughing wear a mask, which is provided for them at the front desk.” Helpful for all of us, right?
Don’t Be Afraid of OTC Help
“I use non-steriodal pain relievers like Naprosyn as directed to relieve my achiness and sinus pain. When I’m very congested, I use nasal mists like Afrin for short-term relief,” says Dr. Jasper Schmidt, an urgent care and emergency room physician in New York City. (However, don’t use nasal sprays for more than three days, or risk getting hooked and damaging sinuses.) “I also listen to my body about when it needs sleep and gently push back into my regular exercise and nutrition routines,” Schmidt says. Be mindful; an extra workout isn’t worth it.
Slow Down and Get Some Zzzz…
“One word: rest,” says Allen Kamrava, MD, a doctor in the Division of Colorectal Surgery at Cedars Sinai. “I rarely sleep more than five or six hours in a night, even on weekends. And I usually pack my days and evenings full of events and meetings.” Sound familiar, moms? When Dr. Kamrava did get sick this year, though, he knew what to do: “I cancelled all events on a Saturday, laid on the couch, slept and watched television for the entire day. I simply allowed my body a chance to recover. I was mostly better come Monday morning.” It sounds simple, but we often don’t acknowledge symptoms of a bug until we’ve been fully bitten. Take a day off. Hydrate, rest and sleep. It’s more effective than trying to “soldier on” at half capacity.
You can get extra protection from bugs with a seasonal, preventative spray solution. “I try to beat the flu by having my office sprayed down with XGUARD360, which attacks and kills virus and bacteria,” says naturopathic doctor Jennifer Burns, NMD, of The Bienetre Center in Phoenix, AZ. “I also take oregano oil all winter, which helps with respiratory issues and GI problems. I also take oscillococcinum once a week as a preventative, along with homeopathic flu remedies.”
Sanitize Your Surfaces (Everywhere)
Antonio Crespo, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Orlando Health, says he’s all about preventative measures. “I’m a firm believer in getting the flu shot,” he says. “Even though the match for the flu strains in this year’s shot are not the best, the shot will still prevent against some flu strains. It’s a no-brainer.” In addition to the vaccine, Dr. Crespo says he can’t stress the value of common sense precautions enough. “Germs are everywhere. I wash my hands often and use hand sanitizer. When going out in public, use the sanitizing wipes at the supermarkets to clean the handles on carts,” he says. “After you wash your hands in a bathroom, use that towel to open the door. Avoiding these germ-ridden surfaces and taking these basic, easy precautions is a simple way to lower your chances of getting sick.”
Maintain Awareness of Flu Hot Spots
Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, a urologist and surgeon at The PUR Clinic in partnership with Orlando Health, says he’s actively aware of the places and practices that perpetuate flu bugs. “Flu is spread by droplets that can enter the body through the nose or mouth,” he says. “These droplets can get on your hands when you touch a surface where the flu has been spread by an infected person, so if you avoid bringing your hands to your nose or mouth you decrease the chance of transferring the droplets from your hands to your body.” On top of that simple trick, he also actively avoids large crowds if he’s sick or feeling like he’s getting sick. “Large crowds increase the chance of being around someone that is actively spreading viral droplets,” he explains. “It’s best to avoid others if you are the sick one or feel like you’re getting sick.” Remember: if everyone is more cautious, there’ll be less flu going around. Do your part.