Have the Flu? 7 tips to help you get back on your feet!

    • 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.
2015_12_3 istock _ Have the flu_square
  • 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.
  • 5. Be careful with medications Never mix medications without talking to your doctor first. Some flu sufferers tend to “throw the kitchen sink” at their symptoms, but be wary of taking more than one medication at a time.
  • Over-the-counter cold and flu remedies often contain multiple drugs in one dose. Taking more than one medication can result in duplicate doses or dangerous drug-interactions. If you have questions about what’s in your cold medicine, call your local pharmacy and ask to speak to the pharmacist.
  • If you take prescription medication, such as a diuretic for blood pressure, call your doctor. Fever can cause you to dehydrate faster, so taking a medication that does the same thing (like Lasix) could be dangerous when you have the flu.
  • 6. Don’t be afraid of the fever Unless you have a history of febrile seizures, or your fever goes over 104, most doctors agree that having a high temperature isn’t dangerous. In fact, multiple studies have shown that fevers actually help your body fight off infections by activating parts of the immune system and decreasing the virus’s ability to reproduce.
  • Popular fever reducers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and aspirin may be used to relieve pain and help you sleep, but taking them just for the sake of keeping you fever-free may actually prolong your illness.
  • 7. Know when to get help If you have a viral infection, most physicians will recommend that you stay home, treat your symptoms, rest, and hydrate. But if you become very sick, are pregnant, or have any chronic conditions, especially ones that affect your respiratory tract or metabolism (asthma, diabetes) you should inform your doctor that you are sick.

    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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RESOURCES

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/2007IP/2007ip_part3.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm
  3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/5/1255.short
  4. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2089
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/influenza_flu_homecare_guide.pdf
  6. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/antivirals/whatyoushould.htm
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
  8. http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  9. http://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/3/190.full
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543583
  11. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256359.php
  12. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159114005108
  13. http://emph.oxfordjournals.org/content/2014/1/92.full

One Comment

Tony

Keep your immune system strong (through a healthy diet and proper supplements) and there’s a good chance you won’t get the flu. If you do get it, in addition to the mentioned supplements, I would take Black Elderberry (aka Sambucol), but thanks to the above, haven’t had the flu in over 10 years. No shot, either. The U.S. has said it was 23% effective last year and 18% this year. Canada has said it was ZERO % effective. I believe Canada. After all, it is for the wrong strain.

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