I consider myself a fairly healthy person, and I rarely get sick with colds or flu.
I also do not get the flu shot. I figure I'll take my chances as there's no guarantee a flu shot will prevent me from getting sick anyway.
And - honestly I've done a pretty good job of avoiding the flu all these years.....
Let's just say I officially got my butt kicked - and hard.
The last 6 days have been absolutely horrible!
You name the symptom and I've had it - body aches, fever, cough, headache, stuffy nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat, lack of energy, sneezing fits..... UGH!
Absolutely THE sickest I have been in a very long time.
And the worst part of it all - since the flu is a Viral Infection - there's not a whole lot you can do but just let it run its course - no matter how painful that may be, or how long it takes.
However there ARE things you can do to speed up the process and feel better. I hope you don't come down with this nasty bug, but if you do here are my
Top 5 Tips for Battling the Flu
Seriously, get as much rest as you can. The more the better. Call the boss and ask for some time off, get the spouse or another family member to help out with the kids if need be, but do whatever you can to just rest.
Your body is going to be working overtime for the next few days battling this virus - so you don't want to be using any more energy than you have to.
Pushing yourself when you're sick is just going to make it take that much longer before you feel better.
Stay in bed, or claim a comfy couch in front of the TV for a few days..... hopefully with Netflix - daytime TV is just as horrible as the flu.
Drink Lots of Fluids
And I mean a lot.
You're going to be losing a lot of fluids (blowing your nose, sweating, throwing up, diarrhea, whatever) so you want to keep those fluids coming as much as you can. And by fluids I don't mean that case of Diet Dr Pepper in the fridge.
- Orange Juice for Vitamin C. You can take Vitamin C pills as well - just remember your body will only handle so much before diarrhea sets in - so I mainly drank mine in the form of OJ, mainly to help soothe my throat.
- Herbal Teas are also good for soothing a scratchy throat. Green Tea, Echinacea, Ginger, whatever you like.
- Hot Soup always seems to be what we crave when we're sick. Remember Mom's chicken noodle soup? In my case I managed to throw together some Chinese Noodle Soup and sipped on it for a few days. Very warm and comforting to a scratchy and irritated throat.
- Water by the gallon. This is probably the most single important thing you can do - so as they say - "Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho".
- I told you I watched a lot of movies this week.....
Over The Counter Aids
These are a double edged sword - because they WILL make you feel better, but they'll probably prolong your sickness as well.
For example, I drank a TON of Mucinex, which contains Acetaminophen. NyQuil has it too. And these WILL help with all those nasty aches and pains we get when we have a fever.
But here's the catch - our body intentionally raises our temperature to help kill the infection. It's a natural defense mechanism. And what's the very first thing we usually do at the very first sign of a fever?
We try to lower it.
I'm not saying we should ignore a fever - not at all. In fact, having a good thermometer laying around is very useful when you're sick like this. I had to call Urgent Care for my wife and the nurse was ecstatic I had already taken her vitals and could provide her with all the information I had recorded.
A good Temporal Thermometer like this one (yes it's an affiliate link so yes I'll make a few pennies if you buy one) will go a long way to helping you keep tabs on your condition.
And any concern at all of an elevated temperature should be raised to your doctor immediately.
But what I AM saying is if we can let our bodies fight this thing the way they were designed to do - aches, pains, and fever included...... it might just kill this bug sooner that it will with us getting in the way.
I know - when you're sick you just want to feel better. True me I know. Do what's right for you.
If I can recommend one thing that did seem to help me - that would be Vicks Vapor Rub. I know - it's old school but rubbing this on my chest at night with a little smear on my upper lip seemed to help me breath better than any of those nasty liquid concoctions I was drinking.
For what it's worth....
Instead of going for the traditional OTC aids - you may want to try something a little more natural.
I received many messages while I was sick suggestion these natural remedies - so it sounds like they are tried and true. Remember I went the OTC route with Mucinex/NyQuil and it took me 6 days to get over this thing.
- Apple Cider Vinegar is reportedly a cure for so many things - so why not. It's very alkalizing to the body and helps kill bacteria and viruses. The preferred dose is 1 Tbls in an 8oz glass of water several times a day. I did try this one and just poured it in a shot glass and chugged it - not sure I'd recommend that for everybody but.... did it help? Maybe?
- Warm Salt Water Gargle is something mom always used to swear by - but does it really work? Turns out yes - it does. Not only does it help soothe a sore throat - the salt helps pull excess moisture out of your tissues so it's basically washing the virus out. As an added bonus, the little bit we swallow helps us avoid getting dehydrated.
- Garlic is one thing many of my readers suggested. Garlic is loaded with allion and allicin, compounds that have natural antiviral properties. The suggested dose is chewing a raw garlic clove several times a day. If you can't stand the thought of eating raw garlic, you can chop up a clove into pieces and swallow them like taking a pill.
- Elderberry Syrup was also highly recommended by many of my readers. Elderberry contains chemicals which are flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory agents. One small study found an elderberry extract called Sambucol could shorten the duration of flu symptoms by about 3 days. That would be similar to prescription antiviral medications like Tamiflu. I've also included another affiliate link to Amazon here but check your grocery store to see if it's available. Link to Amazon
Stay In Touch with your Doctor
My wife got sick first, and I watched her closely the first few days, checking her vitals, and watching her for signs of pneumonia.
But it didn't take but a few days before well meaning family members and friends started asking - "Why haven't you taken her to a doctor yet?" "She needs antibiotics!"
What they didn't know is that I had already called our Nurse Hotline and discussed her symptoms with them. Having someone you can call is really important as they will tell you if you need to be seen or not.
I did eventually take her to Urgent Care too (just to make sure), but I initially avoided it because the flu is just a virus - and for viral infections - there's absolutely nothing our advanced medical community can do!
Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections - like pneumonia, ear infections, sinusitis, etc. but a lot of people don't know that, They want to take antibiotics for every little sniffle, and that will actually do more damage!
Your doctor will tell you if you need antibiotics or not - but just realize for the common flu - they won't help.
I'm not saying don't go see your doctor - If you're sick and you think you need to see a doctor - by all means get in to see your doctor!
What I am saying is don't be too surprised if they don't do anything other than help manage the symptoms. A virus simply has to run its course.
Like I said earlier, having a few good tools for taking vitals is important. A good thermometer on hand for tracking body temperature, a good blood pressure cuff - this is valuable information you CAN give your doctor when you call them.
And if you're as unfortunate as me and my wife, and you DO end up with a nasty virus like we did, hang in there.....
It DOES get better!
- Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water.
- Manage your symptoms the best you can, either naturally or using OTC aids like NyQuil, Mucinex, etc
- Have a phone number handy for someone you can call (nurse hotline, your doctor, urgent care, etc)
- Monitor your condition as much as possible, heart rate, any difficulty breathing, temperature, blood pressure, etc
- Don't hesitate to call or see your doctor if you think you're getting worse
- Find a good marathon on HBO or Netflix...... Game of Thrones, Lost, X Files, whatever you like - because you're probably going to be here a while.
- Good luck and get better!