- 1. Stay home from work or school The rule of thumb is to stay home for at least 24 hours after you are fever free. This helps prevent the spread of illness to the community, but also gives you time to heal. Your body is doing a lot of work fighting off infection. Trying to keep pace while you’re sick may lengthen the time it takes to recover.
- 2. Sleep – A LOT! Your doctor’s advice to get plenty of rest isn’t just an old wives’ tale. A recent study showed that animals produce a special brain protein that, when activated by the immune system during an illness, makes them sleep more. Animals in the study that were deprived of this protein took longer to recover, suffered more complications, and died more frequently than the ones that were able to ‘sleep it off’. Sleep gives your body time to repair and rebuild its resources.
- 3. Hydrate Drink clear fluids like water, broths, and those with lots of electrolytes. Ice chips and ice pops can help with fevers and help you stay hydrated! Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine (soda, tea, coffee) as they can negatively affect hydration.
- 4. Stay nourished Research has shown that viral illness can be worse when vitamin and mineral supplies are low. Prevention of flu-related complications may come down to available stores of immune-fighting nutrients. At the first sign of a cold or flu, make sure you give your body what it needs to mount an effective defense.
- Supplements and the flu
- Multiple studies have shown that zinc can reduce both the number of viral illnesses a child gets, as well as duration of infection, especially when initiated at the first sign of symptoms.
- Recent research has shown that use of probiotics reduced the number of respiratory tract infections, a common complication of influenza, in children.
- Vitamin C has been shown to reduce reported cold and flu symptoms as much as 85% when consumed in higher doses. While other studies offer conflicting results, supplementing with this vitamin involves very little risk, and may offer huge benefits.
- Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function, although studies are inconsistent as to whether or not this nutrient will help you once you become sick. Research has indicated that Vitamin D deficiency can increase inflammation and infection. To achieve the greatest benefits from this vitamin, it’s best to have your levels checked before you are exposed to the flu, and take a supplement if needed.
Get emergency help immediately if you have trouble breathing, become confused, show signs of dehydration (no tears when crying, dizziness, less frequent urination, dry mouth and/or eyes), or if your symptoms get better and then return with fever or worsening cough. (CDC)
- Influenza Medication Review
- Antibiotics do not treat the flu or viruses. They only treat bacterial infections like sinus and ear infections. Taking antibiotics for viral infections can lead to antibiotic resistance, which means that bacteria will stop responding to them. Unfortunately, many symptoms of bacterial infections are similar to flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, fever, and congestion, making it hard to tell the difference. Here are some general tips:
- Viral infections: colds and coughs, fevers, sore throats.
- Bacterial Infection: fever after a couple of days, persistent earaches, sore throat with white dots on the tonsils.
- Antivirals Medications that shorten the duration of the flu by 1 or 2 days are available, and may be recommended by your doctor. Controversy surrounds the safety and usefulness of antivirals like Tamiflu. Antiviral medications have been reported to cause hallucinations and psychosis, even in young, healthy people. Although individuals who are at risk for flu complications may benefit from taking antiviral medications, the CDC states that “Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.”
- Elderberry A randomized, double blind study published in 2004 demonstrated that if taken four times a day for five days, elderberry can relieve influenza symptoms about four days earlier than a placebo, and that those taking elderberry were less likely to resort to rescue medications.
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