It's funny you mention infection. I just returned from a meeting and next to me in coach was a nice guy who unfortunately coughed the whole trip. I thought about my immunosuppressed patients and wondered what they might do to protect themselves. So, in answer to your question - the key is prevention.
- Make sure you get a yearly flu shot and a pneumoccal vaccine which provides long term immunity to one type of pneumonia. (Should People With Arthritis Get a Flu Shot?)
- In contrast to the flu vaccine, the Pneumoccal Vaccine should not be repeated for at least 5 years. (Flu Vaccine Protects Against Contagious Virus)
- Lack of sleep will lead to a weakened immune system so try to get adequate rest. (Arthritis Patients Need More ZZZZZ's)
- If you are traveling in public transportation such as a bus, train or plane consider purchasing an N95 face mask in case you are next to a cougher (masks that were recommended when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was prevalent).
- Finally, good hand washing is essential - especially if you wipe your nose as many infections gain entry to the body this way.
- I do not recommend immune stimulants, such as echinacea, because rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) are associated with an overactive immune system. Immune stimulants have the potential risk of aggravating these conditions.
Dr. Zashin is clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. Dr. Zashin is author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle Of TNF Blockers. The book is useful for anyone on one of the biologic drugs or considering the biologic drugs.