Ah, winter. Usually, it's a time to cozy indoors, brave the harsh elements of the colder months, and combat the flu. And as the risk of being infected with COVID-19 adds a double threat during the flu season, it's essential that you stay healthy this winter.
So how can you build a healthy immune system when the temperature dips? The good news is that there are quite a few ways. Even better news? They're all HSA eligible, so you can dip into your HSA funds and they won't bust your budget. Here are 10 HSA-eligible purchases that can help you stay healthy this winter:
1. Steam inhaler. Dealing with congestion or a cough from a cold or a bout of the flu? Or maybe your winter allergies are flaring up. If so, a steam inhaler can provide some relief from discomfort. While the steam from an inhaler doesn't kill the virus, or make your infection disappear faster, it can provide some comfort by clearing your nasal and respiratory passages, reports Healthline.
2. Over-the-counter antihistamines. Sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. Allergies are no joke — and no fun, either. If your allergies flare up during the colder months due to airborne particles, pet dander, mold, or dust mites, keep your allergy medication on hand. An over-the-counter antihistamine could reduce any inflammation or allergy medication.
3. Oximeter. Oximeters, also known as pulse oximeters or a pulse ox, measures the level of oxygen in the blood through the use of a special sensor that clips around your fingertip. Low oxygen levels have emerged as a key COVID-19 symptom, so these are smart purchases for HSA users who are looking.
4. Pre-cold medicine. Sure, you're probably familiar with cold medicine. Besides getting plenty of rest, de-stressing, and drinking tea, you might be able to avoid getting hit by the cold in the first place with pre-cold medicine.
Pre-cold tablets are loaded with vitamin C and Zinc, which plays a critical role in the development and function of your immune cells. In turn, they could potentially prevent colds, shorten the cold, and alleviate the severity of symptoms and you might experience.
5. Sinus pain relief device. Sinus issues tend to increase during the winter months — the air we're breathing is more dry due to indoor heating, and we're more prone to sinus infections. To boot, our allergies might flare up. If you're experiencing sinus pain, consider going the drug-free route. You can use a gadget such as a sinus pain relief device to provide greater comfort.
6. Cold and flu medication. According to the CDC, about 8% of the population catches the flu each year, and adults typically catch the common cold 2-3 times each year (kids get colds even more frequently), you'll want to make sure you have some cold and flu medication to your medicine cabinet. As you rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food, taking flu and cold tablets can provide temporary relief to cough, congestion, a runny nose, sore throat, headache. It can also reduce a fever.
7. Cough drops. If you have a flu or cold, you'll want to also take some cough drops. These typically are made of ingredients that can create soothing vapors, help suppress a cough, and slightly numb your mouth to reduce irritation to your throat. In turn, you won't be tossing and turning all night with a bad cough.
8. Thermometer. As a fever is a telltale sign that you have a virus, you'll want to have a thermometer on hand. There are several different types depending on your preferences and use. If it's personal use, you might want to look into getting a standard oral thermometer or one that can take your temperature under your arm. But if you're looking for a digital thermometer for your entire household to use and want to prevent the spread of a viral infection, a contactless infrared thermometer might be what you're looking for.
9. Winter skin care. Dry air, taking hot baths, colder temperatures and wind, chill, and snow make for extra dry and chapped skin. Why dry skin typically isn't a serious condition, if left untreated it could give an opportunity for bacteria to enter and cause infections, reports The Mayo Clinic. What's more, if you have eczema, dry skin can also activate this skin disease. Lotion with skin nourishing ingredients to control dry skin and other medical conditions is FSA-eligible and a smart buy during the colder months.
10. Massage roller. Routine and regular massage will help loosen and relax the muscles. In turn, it can provide greater flexibility and stability. And during the colder months, they can warm up the blood which expands blood vessels. If you've been working out strenuously, a massage roller, particularly one that has heat inserts and provides heat therapy, can help you stay strong, flexible, and warm up your muscles whether you're shoveling some snow in your driveway or exercising indoors.
Alongside practicing healthy habits such as eating well and loading up on vegetables, exercise, reducing stress, and meditation, these HSA-eligible purchases can make for a regime for a winter of wellness. Your formula for a healthy you this year can be easy, practical, and low-cost.
Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer and is based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Salon, Mental Floss, and GOOD. She is a candidate for the ACFPE® financial coaching certification.
Jackie is passionate about helping artists, freelancers, and gig economy workers with their finances. She has in-depth experience writing about budgeting, investing, frugality, money, and relationships, and loves finding interesting stories that revolve around money.