Cold and Flu Season: Kick Being Sick
Posted December 26, 2018
Alex, our Patient Care Coordinator who has an extensive background in Health and Fitness, has again contributed to the content of our newsletter. We really appreciate her commitment to keeping our patients healthy!
When I was growing up, my mom would always make me chicken noodle soup when I suffered from a bad cold. It was one of the many “mom remedies” implemented in our household that seemed to have magic powers. It instantly warmed your heart and your belly, all while unknowingly helping to build your strength back. I often wondered what made a big bowl of soup so attractive when someone was sick. Was this just the placebo effect? I soon learned that like many other foods or ingredients found in my home, chicken noodle soup had some beneficial medicinal properties. So, while it did not have “magic powers”, it did assist in the recovery process by providing me with an abundance of nutrients from the bone broth, carrots, and other fresh vegetables, fresh chicken, and herbs and spices.
As cold and flu season is rapidly approaching, it is helpful to know what you can do at home to support your body! Our office wants to make sure our patients are healthy for surgery so that they can have a smoother recovery, as illnesses can affect a patient’s healing rate and the ability to use anesthesia in surgery. If you have surgery approaching and feel as if you are under the weather, call our office or your PCP to speak with the doctor! In the meantime, check out the question and answer section below to learn some tips and tricks to tackle the dreadful cold and flu season and strengthen your immune system before, during, and after an illness.
How long does a virus last?
Symptoms of a virus usually peak at 1-3 days. You can easily already be affected but still feel fine until the peak period. Once the virus hits, the symptoms can persist for one to three weeks.
When should I be concerned with a fever?
Although uncomfortable, a fever is a sign that your body is fighting something off. This could be caused by a number of things but most commonly, infections. In adults, a fever is not typically a concern until it reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. However, for infants and toddlers, a slightly elevated fever can be a sign of a serious infection and a pediatrician should be consulted. Call a doctor if:
- Younger than 3 months has a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- Between ages 3 to 6 months and has a fever up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit and seems irritable, uncomfortable, or unusually tired.
- Between ages 6 to 24 months and has a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that lasts longer than one day but shows no other symptoms. If other symptoms exist, a doctor should be seen sooner.
For children and adults, your doctor should be called if the temperature is 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If any of these symptoms accompany the fever, seek medical attention ASAP:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest Pain
- Persistent Vomiting
- Mental Confusion
- Abdominal Pain
- Convulsions or Seizures
Why do I get sick so easily? What can I do to help?
Many factors contribute to immune health. Stress and poor sleep increase the risk of a common cold in individuals, as does a poor, unbalanced diet. If you find yourself choosing fatty, processed foods or eating a lot of sugar, your body may be weaker and more likely to get hit by a virus. This also can make it more difficult to recover! Many individuals find themselves tired, weak and achy when they get hit with a cold or the flu. It is important to get a proper amount of rest, stay hydrated, and listen to your body in order to replenish it when you are ill, but also as a preventive measure to boost your immune system in general.
There are some supplements and home remedies that may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of a common cold or the flu.
Please be aware that many of these are NOT regulated by the USDA and should be used with caution and researched. As we cannot prescribe or recommend, please talk with your physician and get their approval before trying a new product to see if there are any contraindications for your usage. Everyone is different and may have different reactions to OTC products. Some research on potentially helpful products are shown below:
Vitamin C: Duration of cold is shorter when Vitamin C is used than with placebo
Zinc: Mean number of colds significantly lower in zinc group than the placebo, antibiotic use significantly lower in those who use zinc.
Probiotics: May be helpful in preventing upper respiratory infections and stomach viruses. The use of probiotics reduced antibiotic use.
Garlic: Powerful natural antibiotic and helpful for the heart.
Vitamin D: Studies show large doses of vitamin D are more effective than prescription flu medications and regular doses strengthen immunity.
Exercise: Exercise is shown to increase immunity and strengthen the body by increasing blood flow and flushing the lymphs. When ill, it is important to refrain from strenuous exercise and allow the body to heal and rest. Some conflicting studies believe that when an individual has a slight fever, slightly elevating the heart rate can be helpful in breaking the fever. It is important to consult your doctor prior to exercise when you are ill, as you can risk dehydration and other issues.
Acetaminophen: More effective than placebo in reducing fever and providing mild pain relief; less effective than ibuprofen in fever control.
Decongestants: Shown to decrease subjective nasal symptoms by 6% with a single dose and 4% with recurrent doses.
Vapor Rub: Cough frequency and severity were shown to be improved; Sleep proven to be improved with vapor rub. Adverse effects include burning sensation to the skin, nose, and eyes.
Antibiotics: No beneficial effect on the common cold.
Honey: Small benefit for cough and sore throat.
Elderberry: This is high in Vitamin C, a strong source of antioxidants, has strong anti-inflammatory effects.One study of 60 people with the flu found that those who took 15mL of elderberry syrup four times per day showed improviement in their symptoms in two to four days, while others took seven to eight days.