As many of us know, November through March is the time where we see the common cold, the flu, strep, and all other sicknesses come about. This year, typically in the mid west, we are seeing that this winter is notorious for illnesses. As the author of these blogs, I can say that I have been sick more times this winter than ever before. So I want to give everyone out there a little guidance on how to listen to your body when you’re sick… and how to care for it as well.
First and foremost, learn to listen to your symptoms. Most common colds, fevers, and flu’s start out with body aches, fatigue, and/or some sort of headache or neck ache. Whenever you see these symptoms coming about try to nip it in the bud by taking lots of vitamin C, drinking green tea/lemon tea, resting, hydrating, and taking it easy at the gym. YES! I said it… Take it easy at the gym when you feel these symptoms coming on. One rest day will not cause a huge set back, and will actually prevent you from getting any sicker and having to take even more rest days while you’re sick. You may just be helping yourself out in the long run. I am speaking from experience, because I did not rest when I felt my symptoms coming about and now I am stuck on my couch, not having worked out for an entire week. But a sick body needs rest!!
Secondly, determine if you truly need to see a doctor, or if you can just self medicate. Typically going to the doctor includes a co-pay, waiting room, etc. Unless you need a note from the doctor for school/work, try to see what you can do about the illness first. Taken from WebMD.com, here is a simple and perfect description of when they recommend to see a doctor.. (source)
You have trouble breathing or chest pain.
Aside from a stuffy nose and some general muscle aches, a cold or the flu shouldn’t make you short of breath or cause pain in your chest. These could be signs of a more serious problem such as heart disease, asthma, or pneumonia. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
Your fever doesn’t get better.
A fever that won’t go away can be a sign of another infection in your body that needs treatment. Generally, a fever for an adult means a temperature greater than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can’t keep anything down.
Your body needs fluids to work properly. If you can’t drink anything without vomiting, you may need to go to your doctor’s office or the hospital to get fluids through a vein (IV).
It hurts to swallow.
This is not normal. Although a sore throat can make it a little painful to swallow, severe pain can be a sign of an infection or injury that needs to be treated by a doctor.
You can’t get rid of your cough.
A cough that won’t go away is likely postnasal drip that can be treated with antihistamines. But it could also be related to asthma or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Your doctor can tell you about treatments that can help.
A lasting, severe cough is also the main symptom of whooping cough, which has become more common in many parts of the U.S. So, if you have an unexplained cough for more than 2-3 weeks, your doctor may test you for this type of infection.
Your congestion and headache won’t go away.
Colds and allergies that block the nasal passages can lead to a sinus infection. If your cold medicine doesn’t work, see your doctor for more treatment.
Next, keep on a healthy eating path. It can be hard when you are sick to simply lounge on the couch eating coup, crackers, and ice cream all day. Especially when you cannot taste anything from having sever congestion, it can make it hard to even want to eat at all. Stick to healthy and fresh foods to fuel your body. You will get better a lot quicker with eating fresh and health meals vs. if you stick with fast food and processed foods.
Lastly, this is completly optional, but along with medication (such as a fever reducer, cold and flu medicine, etc.) try to take these three things:
1.) Pro-biotic. Pro-biotic’s are crucial to your diet if you are taking an type of antibiotic for an illness. The antibiotic kills ALL bacteria in you body.. the good ones and the bad ones. The pro-biotic will put the good bacteria back into your digestive tract to keep things running smoothly. Even if you are not on an antibiotic, I suggest to everyone to take a pro-biotic for good digestive health.
2.) Multivitamin. A multivitamin is helpful to keep good nutrients in your system especially while you are sick. These can be found at almost any convenient drug store. Talk to a pharmacist or your doctor to see what is best for you.
3.) Fish oil. This will help you add the essential fatty acids and Omega-3’s into your body. Fish oil also helps with hydrating your body, which is crucial while you’re sick. The rule of thumb on fish oil is: 1- put it in the freezer over night, if it comes out cloudy then it is a bad type of fish oil. It if comes out clear, then you got the right type of fish oil pills and they will work with your body. The second rule of thumb is that you should have NO fishy aftertaste with fish oil pills. If you do, take them back to where you bought them and by a different brand.