A possible “twindemic”—flu season unfolding alongside the coronavirus pandemic—has us all worried. We asked Joseph Khabbaza, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician at Cleveland Clinic, about at-home essentials to help us stay healthy this fall and beyond. Here are his must-haves for flu season survival kit.
Doctor-recommended flu-season must-haves
This medicine-cabinet essential should be easy to use and read. The Chooseen Digital Forehead and Ear Thermometer offers instant readings and a color-coded fever warning system. $46, amazon.com
Related: 66 Ways to Boost Your Immune System During Flu Season
“Stress reduction is crucial in all aspects of life, and meditation apps are vital right now,” says Khabbaza. One such app is Headspace, which uses clinical research to provide meditations and exercises for sleep, focus, stress and anxiety. It’s now free for U.S. health care workers and K–12 teachers and school administrators. $13 per month, headspace.com
“It’s probably the most important product when you’re out of the house this fall,” says Khabbaza. The new Germaphobe Hand and Surface Sanitizer can be massaged into the skin to hydrate and zap bacteria or spritzed on masks and left to air-dry when there’s no time to wash. $8.50, everyday-humans.com
A Comfortable Mask
“When you combine masks with distancing from people, it’s hard to get COVID-19, and it’s kind of empowering to remind ourselves that we’re in a bit more control than we thought,” Khabbaza says. Lately, he’s been advising patients to use masks that tie around the head, like the Misa Face Mask, rather than wrapping around the ears, as they tend to be more comfortable. $25 for a three-pack in assorted patterns, misalosangeles.com
If you’re constantly losing your mask in your purse, try the LA MASK Small Tortoise Acetate Link. It looks like a necklace (and can be clasped as one) but functions like an eyeglass chain. $90, karenlazardesign.com
Related: 25 Mask Lanyards for Kids
When social distancing is a challenge, sunglasses or no-prescription glasses can act as an extra barrier, preventing droplet spread through the eyes. These BlueLight+ Glasses have the added benefit of protecting your eyes during screen time. $45, tomahawkshades.com
Old-fashioned H20 and electrolyte-containing drinks can help keep you out of the hospital when you’re sick, says Khabbaza. Sixty-four ounces per day is recommended to replenish lost fluids and stay hydrated, which means you’ll have to fill the Nalgene Water Bottle (with its 18,000 five-star reviews) only twice. $12, amazon.com
Because influenza is largely preventable, the sooner you have that extra layer of protection, the better, Khabbaza says. It will also help prevent overwhelming hospitals with flu patients.
The idea that ibuprofen increases COVID-19 risks has been debunked, Khabbaza says. He suggests keeping acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen on hand for fevers, aches and pains.
Any disinfectant spray is adequate for cleaning your home’s frequent-touch surfaces, Khabbaza says. A new twist: UV sanitizing, which uses light to kill bacteria and viruses, is becoming more accessible. The Homedics UV Clean Portable Sanitizer Bag can kill germs on phones, keys and eyeglasses in one minute. $100, homedics.com
If you’re at a higher risk for COVID-19, a pulse oximeter, which clips on your finger and measures oxygen content in the blood, is a good idea, says Khabbaza. The OxySmart Fingertip Pulse Oximeter measures oxygen levels and pulse rate. $50, getwellue.com
The drinks are a handy way to get necessary nutrients even when your appetite is low, Khabbaza says.
You Can Ditch the Gloves
Ultimately, it comes down to not touching your face, Khabbaza says. The virus can still adhere to latex, so if you touch your face at any point, you’ve still potentially exposed yourself.
No Need to Wipe Down Packages
“If it relieves your anxiety or stress, then there’s no downside to doing it.” But there’s no strong medical recommendation to disinfecting those surfaces.
Next, What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus and What Should I Do If I Have Them?