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Have a Healthy Holiday

How to stay well while celebrating the season.

woman traveling during winter holidays

The holiday season is here and that means lots of travel for many, including those living with a compromised immune system brought on by a primary immunodeficiency (PI) disease.

Those living with a PI may easily acquire infections and therefore may face added stress getting to their holiday destinations and even during visits to homes of friends and family. We’ve gathered tips from PI patients and experts on staying healthy while celebrating the season.

Keep Your Hands Clean: Whether or not you have a compromised immune system, hand-washing is always a good idea. Primary immunodeficiency patient Shannon McDonnell goes a step further and brings hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. She advises fellow patients to wipe down any surface that is frequently touched, including armrests and tray tables on a plane.

Watch What You Eat: While it’s common to overindulge during the holiday season, PI patients may want to keep an extra close eye on what they’re eating while visiting restaurants or other people’s homes. The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) recommends travelers ensure meat, poultry, shellfish and fish are completely cooked and that any fruits or vegetables are washed and peeled. The IDF also suggests patients ask their immunologist if there are any other precautions they should take regarding food on the go.

Focus on Yourself: The holidays can come with many perceived obligations to visit with family and friends who you may not get to see very often. But it’s also important for PI patients to look out for themselves. According to the IDF, various studies have suggested that stress can negatively affect the immune system. Sleep is also a well-known requirement for good health. So if you feel you just aren’t up for a holiday gathering, it’s OK to say no.

For more information on staying healthy during the holidays or any other time of year, check out this guide from the Immune Deficiency Foundation.