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Battling Those Winter Bugs

Monday, January 13, 2014

By Jennifer Gooden

As adult congenital heart patients we often learn early to “listen to our bodies.” Not listening can have dire consequences. We learn when our bodies are giving us the yellow light to slow down and take things easy. For me it’s more of the red light – stop, something is wrong – that I have a hard time with. What can I say? I am a bit hard-headed!

But being an ACHD patient, I sometimes have to slow down and listen to my body. I have to pay attention and notice when my ankles swell a little more than usual, or when I have more difficulty catching my breath. I learned to “pump the breaks,” so to speak. During the flu time of year, though, I often find it a little more difficult to listen to my body. I often want to chalk things up to a cold or runny nose and pretend that it has little to no effect on my body/heart.

I especially have a hard time distinguishing my symptoms between “heart problems” and “winter problems.” So to help myself (and maybe you, too) I have come up with a list of do’s and don’ts this winter:

  1. I wash or sanitize my hands often—the best way to prevent infection is keeping my hands clean!
  2. I don’t ignore symptoms! If I am coughing a bit more, having a hard time catching my breath, or blowing my nose like nuts – I don’t ignore it. I take notes! When did it start? When is it worse? Does anything (a hot shower?) help? I write it down (or put it in my phone) so I can remember.
  3. I see my primary care physician (PCP) instead of visiting a walk-in clinic. I have a good relationship with my PCP who knows me better then a clinic doc and can point out new things!
  4. I don’t randomly take over the counter medications (OTC) without checking with my cardiologist, PCP, pharmacist or some other healthcare professional. Some OTC meds interact with heart meds – especially Coumadin! I make sure I know what is safe for me.
  5. I check in with my cardiologist if in my gut something just “isn’t right.” I advocate for myself because I know my body best. Even if everything checks out OK at least I will have piece of mind and the right medications to battle those winter germs.

I hope my tips help you to remain happy and healthy this new year!


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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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