Staying Healthy at Conventions and Tournaments: How to Avoid the Dreaded LAN Flu

TwitchCon is right around the corner!

Unfortunately, that means plenty of germs are, too: big tournaments and conventions are almost as good as kindergartens as breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to boost your immune system and avoid catching the dreaded LAN Flu.

Build up your healthy gut bacteria.

Your intestines are supposed to have some bacteria in them, but only very particular kinds. To promote growth of those healthy bacteria, you want to eat prebiotics (things that fuel those good bacteria) and probiotics (things that contain the good bacteria directly)

(Note: if your immune system is compromised, such as by receiving radiation/chemotherapy or on immunosuppressive drugs like those prescribed for Crohn’s disease or certain forms of psoriasis, probiotics may increase your risk of illness; check with your doctor first).

Get adequate sleep.

Adequate sleep promotes production T-cells, the attacker cells of the immune system. After exposure to an bacteria or virus, sleep also helps in the formation of immunological memory, or your body’s ability to recognize and fight a foreign agent the next time it pops up.

Research tells us that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and children and teenagers need closer to 9-11 (due to the demands of growth on the body).

Minimize exposure

Once you’re on site at a convention or tournament, decrease the amount of exposure you have to germs. According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, nearly twice as many bacteria are transferred during a handshake as a hi-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a hi-five. The longer the contact and the stronger the grip, the larger the amount of bacteria transmitted.

Don’t just wash your hands.

If you’re going to be playing on shared equipment, bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down whatever part you’ll be touching before and after you play. It takes an extra 30 seconds, max. Wash your hands with either soap and warm water (for at least 15 seconds, or two rounds of “happy birthday” sung in your head) or a waterless hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. And at the end of the day, get a full-body clean–take a shower or a bath, and plan to either pack enough clothes that you don’t need to repeat outfits or to wash what you do have packed.

 

And if all else fails and you do get sick, here’s how to boost your recovery.

Get your germ-busters

Obviously, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection (although that will do diddly squat if you have a viral infection). You can also eat foods with antibacterial properties, like honey (which also makes for an excellent throat soother and cough suppressant) and garlic.

Chicken soup for the LAN flu-having soul

There’s a reason everybody’s grandma recommends it when you’re sick–chicken soup not only provides fluids but also electrolytes and anti-inflammatory nutrients. However, this only applies to chicken soup from scratch–made from a chicken, not the canned variety

 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Even more so than usual, hydration is key when fighting off an infection. Consider green tea, which boosts certain antibodies, as well as water. Avoid diuretics like sodas or coffee.

 

MOAR SLEEP

Your body is expending extra energy to repel foreign invaders. It’s natural to feel more tired, and in this particular context, that’s your body’s way of telling you it needs more rest. Allow your body the energy it needs by getting extra rest. It can be in the form of naps (10-20 minutes for a quick refresh, 90 minutes for a full sleep cycle) or in the form of extra sleep at night (add a full sleep cycle, 90 minutes, to your regular needs)P.S. Hope to see–and fist bump!–plenty of you at TwitchCon 2017!

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