Every year the flu season seems to get worse. Even given extra time and knowing that the annual calamity is coming to your home, your office or your kid’s school, I see with my patients all the time that they aren’t prepared to fight crucial early symptoms. Doing so is the best chance to minimize disruptions to your life.
If you are like most of my patients, you simply might not know what to do when you experience those first signs like fatigue and a tickle in your throat after seeing your family and co-workers fall to flu. We’ve been taught to take great proactive steps like washing our hands frequently and taking a multivitamin. Most people don’t know what to do, though, when they start to get sick.
Barriers to Quick Action
First, it’s difficult to tell where early symptoms will lead. People tend to ignore the symptoms or add small treatments as time passes if symptoms grow worse. You might drink more orange juice or take a nap.
Some, like drivers, can’t take antihistamines or decongestions that can cause drowsiness. Others just don’t like taking medication. They wait until their condition gets so bad that they can’t sleep at night or function during the day, so they have nothing to lose by taking something that will put them in a fog.
The rise in sales of cough, cold and flu medications every season in conjunction with the rise of illness levels suggests that many folks purchase a treatment only at the height of their symptoms. The problem is that when cold and flu sufferers get to the point of taking a medication that suppresses symptoms until the body heals itself, the action of suppressing symptoms is counterproductive to what the body is doing to help itself.
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The key, however, is to prepare for quick action. Much like hurricanes, flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe but there is actually a lot you can do to get ready. You shouldn’t wait until the flu strikes; you should make sure your house is flu-ready and a plan is in place to take action within 48 hours of the first sign of flu symptoms. Stock up on specific flu supplies and creating an emergency plan with clinic and doctor phone numbers so they are easily accessible when you need them. Waiting to take action even for just two days can dramatically delay recovery time for an extra two or three weeks.
Your Home Flu Survival Pack
Despite it being difficult to tell if early symptoms will developed into a cold and flu, both conditions derive from viruses. The sooner you can stop a virus from duplicating itself and affecting body cells, the better off you?ll be. Here what I recommend to my patients.
- Probiotics are gut-friendly bacteria are needed not only for a healthy digestive system but also for a robust immune system. Eating unsweetened yogurt with live cultures or drinking kefir several times a week can be a good source. Probiotics taken as supplement were shown to starve off colds. In 2012, the British Journal of Nutrition published research that compared two groups of college students suffering from colds. The group that took a probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus rhamnosus recovered two days earlier and had symptoms that were 34 percent less severe.Overall, eating well is the cornerstone of our health. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of immune system is in the digestive track! During cold and flu season, make an effort to reduce your intake of concentrated sugar. Excessive sugar impairs the immune response.
- Oscillococcinum (or Oscillo for short) is homeopathic medicine that help nip symptoms in the bud. Clinical studies show that Oscillococcinum shortens both the severity and duration of flu symptoms. In fact, when patients took Oscillo within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, nearly 63 percent showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” within 48 hours, according to the latest study published in a British scientific journal.? Patients have told me that they feel much better the next morning, even when they thought they would be bedridden the evening before. It’s the step to take after proactively trying to prevent illness with vitamins but before it gets to the point where you think you need to mask symptoms with heavy-duty medication. It’s been a favorite flu fighter of the French for more than 70 years and now is easily found in the U.S. for my patients. It won’t cause drowsiness and can be used in children as young as 2 years of age.
- Hot chicken soup, as your grandmother knows, can help heal and have a mild anti-inflammatory effect. It has properties that slow the movement of infection-fighting white blood cells, according to research published in the journal Chest, and when white cells move more slowly, they spend more time in the areas of the body that need them most. The steam from the soup also helps open stuffed-up nasal passages, and the salty broth can soothe a sore throat.
Consuming extra fluids such as soap also prevents dehydration caused by fever, loosens mucus, keeps your throat moist, and lessens the chance of you coming down with flu. Warm liquids are preferable. Reach for water with lemon or honey, herbal tea, juice, electrolyte drinks or even 100 percent fruit juice popsicles for kids. Avoid coffee and sodas that contain caffeine, as well as alcohol, all of which can dehydrate.
- Zinc is a mineral essential to the cells of the immune system. It is found in every cell. It’s one reason why garlic, rich in vitamin C and zinc, is thought to enhance immune function for the protection against infection. Following zinc depletion, all kinds of immune system cells show decreased function. Zinc Lozenges should be taken as soon as symptoms set in. A 2013 Cochrane Library analysis of 18 trials found that ingesting daily dose of 75 milligrams within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms reduces the duration of the illness.
Too Far into Symptoms?
If you do come down with a cold or flu, listen to your body and take it easy. Get a full night’s sleep to keep your body’s natural defenses at optimum efficiency. Lack of sleep may profoundly inhibit your immune system. Spending excessive energy steals valuable resources from the immune system. Even attempting to perform normal activities at work or school may be too much. Besides, if you believe you’re coming down with the flu, probably the best thing you can do for friends and family is to not expose them unnecessarily to the virus.
If your symptoms become significantly worse after the first three days of illness, especially if your fever subsides and then returns, be sure to seek medical attention right away. The reason that the flu is considered a potentially dangerous infection is that leaves the body vulnerable to other infections, like pneumonia.
Many patients incorrectly consider flu merely as a severe cold. Despite that many people think they have never had a flu or won’t get a flu, the CDC estimates that 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population on average suffers through symptoms each year and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized.
For more personalized medicine tips go to: www.drredcross.com or follow on Twitter at @DrRedcross
About the Doctor Dr. Ken Redcross, MD, is founder of Redcross Concierge, a personalized medical practice designed to enhance the patient-doctor relationship while providing convenient access to a full spectrum of healthcare services and holistic and wellness counseling.