When the seasons change, there are certain things you can anticipate. As summer fades, we get leaves transforming into dazzling shades of bright color. We get colder weather and pumpkin spice flavored everything. We also get flu season, the time of year where people either get flu vaccinations sooner, flu medication later, or both, if the vaccine isn’t so great.
But there are more options available to you for fighting the flu beyond getting your yearly flu vaccination. Yesterday, we offered a few suggestions for ways to avoid getting sick, and what to do if you end up with the flu. Today, we’ll share a few more tips to help you get healthy after you’ve gotten the flu.
- As Americans, we have some pretty unhealthy habits. Arguably the worst is that we don’t get enough rest. It’s considered a badge of honor to keep working when sick, but the truth is, it’s a stupid move. When you’re sick, getting lots of rest gives your immune system the energy it needs to fight a virus. By drinking lots of fluids, your body is able to produce mucus and prevent you from becoming dehydrated. Along with that, over the counter or prescribed medications take the edge off of fever, coughing, and other symptoms.
- According to extensive research performed by the CDC, people afflicted with the flu or a cold are usually contagious for 24 hours prior to developing symptoms, then 5-6 days after getting sick. Remember that the flu’s incubation period is approximately 1 week, and some people catch the flu or a cold but never show any symptoms.
- If you’re going to take over the counter medications, be careful of what you take. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient found in many pain relievers such as Tylenol. If you take too much, you can cause serious damage to your liver, so be sure to limit consumption to 4 grams, or 4,000 mg, in a 24 hour period. Also, don’t double up doses or take multiple cold medicines.
- Single ingredient medicines that treat specific symptoms can frequently be safer, so be sure to take the right meds at the right time. For example, antihistamines are designed to depress the nervous system and relieve sneezing and a runny nose caused by allergic reactions. They will make you sleepy, which is why you should take them before bed instead of before work.
- Many of us think that a cold or the flu will linger for a couple of days, then clear up. But the fact is, symptoms like a cough or persistent fatigue commonly hang around for a couple of weeks. A good rule of thumb is that if your condition hasn’t cleared up within 3 weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Finally, there’s good news and bad news about the flu and colds. The good news is, after your body successfully repels a virus, it naturally develops an immunity. The bad news is, the immunity is only effective for that particular strain, and there are over 200 viruses that cause the flu and colds, with more mutated versions popping up. Until medical science develops a surefire cure, you’re wise to get your yearly vaccination, and stay in good health in order to continually have a strong immune system.