I consider myself a healthy person in that I eat well, don’t indulge in unhealthy vices, (okay, occasionally) and I manage stress through meditation. I’ve worked in the healthcare industry and most recently in a medical practice and rarely became ill. If I was exposed to people with colds or flu, I would try to get enough rest and take vitamins. And, if I felt a bit under the weather or like I was developing a sore throat, I’d whip up a big pot of homemade chicken soup. Extra spicy to really sweat out the germs. I don’t get a flu shot, and for the most part, I haven’t had to visit a doctor with a communicable illness in years.
But, last week, after exposure to several different people at various stages of illness, my body succumbed. I got the body aches, the sore throat, the headache, and the chills. I left work early and stopped at the grocery store to buy the ingredients I would need to make a fresh pot of chicken soup. When I got home, I was too tired to cook and wasn’t really hungry so I went to bed. I made my soup the next day. I started taking vitamins and some Chinese herbs I had that are prescribed for a sore throat. After a few days, I began to feel better. But, then I got much worse.
I called the doctor and was given a prescription for antibiotics. It made me question myself on why I hadn’t gone to my Western Medicine doctor for antibiotics right away like my sick coworkers had. While I believe in and have benefited from the art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I was self-treating at home. The right thing to do would have been to visit the TCM doctor who had prescribed those herbs to me months before to ward off a cold. But, I did not. I was too tired and thought I could self-treat. Big mistake.
Since I did begin to feel better after a few days and then relapsed & got worse, I realized that this is the tipping point. This is when you need to see your Western medicine doctor. When you relapse. Now, to be clear, this is a blog of my own personal story and is in NO WAY medical advice! I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. So take this blog with a grain of salt – and maybe a Vitamin C supplement. But, I know many of you try to keep your exposure to antibiotics to only the most critical times. Some people use them preventatively – which is not a good idea. You want your body to utilize antibiotics successfully during real bouts of illness. If you know your own body and know when you have had enough of your illness you will know when it is time to see a doctor. But, if there is any question, call your doctor and ask if you should come in.
As we enter cold and flu season, you should be vigilant about washing your hands and avoiding people who are sick. But, if you do catch something, know when to call the doctor. Some other symptoms that should prompt you to see your doctor when you feel unwell or if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. A persistent cough and a constant fever are also red flags that you should not be trying to self-treat at home but rather get treated by your physician. And, a persistent headache is not something that you should endure as par for the course. By all means, use your neti pot to rinse out your sinuses, if that’s your thing. But, if you still have the headache after a few days, you may have a sinus infection. See your doctor and get it taken care of. As for vomiting. For me, that’s intolerable. “Hello, Doctor?”
In general, when sick with a cold, stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. I also like to drink herbal teas and or hot water with fresh ginger slices, fresh lemon juice, and local honey in it. Find what warm beverages you feel comforted by, avoiding such things as dairy milk. Dairy products produce mucous and that is the last thing you want more of when you have a cold, especially when accompanied by congestion or wheezing.
You also need sustenance. Even if you don’t feel hungry, eat something light or sip some hot soup or broth so you are getting enough calories to strengthen your immune system and to fight the germs. Try to avoid sugary foods as they will just feed your bug.
Probably the most important thing you can do for your sick self is to rest. Your body is run down and it succumbed to illness. Your body is telling you to slow down. Give yourself a break. Don’t tough it out and go to work anyway. No one there wants your germs. Stay home. Rest. Renew. Recuperate. Then, when you are well again, REJOICE! Nothing feels better than healthy vitality.