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The influenza virus (or commonly known as the flu) affects most of us each year. And like clockwork, flu season has returned once again.
While it’s easy to mistake the flu for a minor cold at first but once the symptoms worsen be sure your cold has turned into the flu.
For years on end I have been asked— ”Did you take your flu shot already?”
Being the naturapath I am, I have always been evasive of all vaccines and let my body fight every virus by being aware of building my immunity year round. I’m here to announce — this is a thing of the past and the last two bouts of flu I have contracted, have taken the mickey out of me, with recovery taking longer than ever. So I now take the flu shot, it does not gurantee that you will not contract the flu, but if you do, it will be a mild attack.
That being said, here are some pointers on the all-in-all of THE FLU —
Flu vs Cold
While the flu shares many of the symptoms of the common cold, symptoms of the flu are typically more severe and come on quicker. The main differences between a flu and a cold are how bad the symptoms are and how long you have them for.
- Flu symptoms begin suddenly and are severe lasting for up to ten days to two weeks. Flu symptoms can include a dry cough, fever (although not everyone with the flu will run a fever) , a sore throat, shaking chills, severe muscle or body ache, headache, a stuffy and runny nose and severe fatigue.
- Cold symptoms are typically milder and last for up to a week. If you have a cold, you’ll probably have symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, headache or body aches, mild tiredness.
Treating the flu symptoms is essential to get over it swiftly. The best way is to rest…rest.. and rest some more!
Here are some tips that will help you feel better faster —
Stay home —
During a bout of the flu, your body needs time and energy to combat the virus. Consequently, it’s important to prioritise your health over your daily routine. While it is tempting to run errands and odd jobs, staying at home and resting should be the only thing on your mind. This not only aids in your recovery but also helps prevent the spread of the flu virus to others especially because the flu can pose a serious risk to older adults.
Take extra hygiene care —
To prevent the virus from spreading, it’s essential to practise good hygiene habits like washing your hands regularly for approximately 20 seconds using soap and water. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your arm instead of your hands or use disposable tissues. The flu is highly contagious and can easily spread through the air when you cough or sneeze, so be diligent about maintaining good hygiene. Consider keeping antibacterial wipes or sanitiser to prevent the spreading of germs.
Eat healthy to boost your immune system —
Although your appetite may diminish when you’re unwell, eating small meals abundant in nutrients will give your body the energy it needs to combat the flu virus. While chicken noodle soup is a classic comfort food when you’re feeling under the weather, there are numerous other nutritious choices to help you recover. Be sure to incorporate a variety of colourful, antioxidant-rich vegetables, hearty sources of protein and nutrient-packed whole grains. All these options help your body recover. Steer clear of processed foods and sugary items.
To combat the flu’s symptoms, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Water is the best choice for replenishing lost fluids, but coconut water, herbal teas, juices, electrolyte drinks, soup, broth or tea with honey can also give you relief while keeping you hydrated. Be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they are diuretics. You can gauge your level of hydration by the frequency of urination and the colour of your urine. If you’re drinking enough fluids, your urine should be nearly clear or pale yellow. Dehydration is a concern if your urine is deep yellow or amber.
Stock up on essentials —
Purchase flu essentials like tissues, a steamer, sanitiser, disinfectant, washcloths, lozenges, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, cough suppressants, your favourite teas and nutritious foods. If you’re already ill, ask a family member or friend to do your shopping for you or opt for home delivered stores.
Add moisture to the air —
To alleviate flu symptoms, it’s important to hydrate indoor air. Dry air can worsen your condition. Dry indoor air can prolong the survival of the flu virus and potentially increase its spread. Heating or air conditioning systems can further dry out the air. A humidifier or vaporizer can help by adding moisture to the air. Various types of humidifiers and steam vaporizers are readily available at affordable prices in local stores, pharmacies or online. Additionally, it’s advisable to minimise smoking during illness, as it can exacerbate irritation in your nose, throat, and lungs.
In essence, the most beneficial approach to treating the flu is to prioritise rest and avoid pushing yourself. The flu typically progresses, with symptoms worsening before improving. Depriving your body of rest during the initial days of symptoms can prolong your recovery time. Getting ample sleep is the most effective remedy for your body while fighting the flu. While watching TV and relaxing on the couch is fine, be sure to get enough rest with your eyes shut. Opt for an earlier bedtime and allow yourself to sleep in. Taking daytime naps can also help your body in its recovery process. Adequate rest and sleep also lower the risk of severe flu complications, such as pneumonia.
A few natural remedies —
- Elderberry- Elderberry has been used for hundreds of years to treat the flu.
- Honey and turmeric- Honey and turmeric is one of the best natural remedies for the flu. You can suck on it or mix it in hot water and drink it as a tea.
- Zinc- Eat plenty of zinc rich foods like red meat, shellfish, lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy and eggs.
- Steam inhalation- Breathing in steam can help soothe your nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. The water vapour loosens the mucus build up and congestion and relieves swelling in the nose and lungs.
- Gargle with salt and warm water
The bottom line —
In most cases of the flu, symptoms resolve within one to two weeks and you’ll likely not need to see a doctor. If your flu symptoms start to get better and then get rapidly worse, or don’t subside after two weeks, contact your doctor.
Remember to rest, hydrate and stay home. Get a yearly flu shot to help avoid being defeated by the flu. Finally, be mindful of how your health affects the people around you, especially those with compromised immune systems.
Stay home when you are infectious!
NOTE — flu shots for Mumbaikars should be taken before the onset of the monsoon.
Disclaimer- This is not medical advice. Please consult a doctor or health professional.