Making Sense of the Cold and Flu Cycle
It’s good to get sick and challenge our immune systems from time to time.
Unfortunately it sometimes happens that we fall ill during the holidays, keeping us from socializing with family and friends. Here’s a primer on how cold and flu cycles work and how to stay healthy so festive plans don’t fall through!
1. You’re not sick.
Perfect. You feel great…and let’s keep it that way as the weather gets colder and your coworkers around you start sniffling and sneezing.
Stress at work / home / school
• Combat stress response with: ashwagandha, holy basil, Siberian ginseng, linden, rhodiola and licorice root
People around you at work / home / school are sick
• Prevent sickness with: vitamin C, vitamin D, echinacea, astragalus, ashwagandha, American ginseng, holy basil
2. Holding back the flood.
Oh no. Here come the first signs of a sniffle or sore throat that can mark the onset of a cold or flu.
3. The moment you realize you’re sick.
There’s no use in denying it, you feel terrible. Unfortunately it’s time to cancel your holiday party, notify your guests and focus on recovery. Luckily there are ways to shorten the duration of your cold or flu.
Symptoms (these can vary):
• Cold: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fatigue, sore throat
• Flu: fever, chills, headache, body aches, fatigue, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, sore throat
To help you recover from the cold or flu:
• Stay at home – that’s right, no work and no play. Get lots of rest, meaning actual sleep! Drink lots of liquids (preferably water but you can drink some teas in moderation). Avoid sweets and sugary foods to help prevent bacterial growth while your immune system works hard. Continue to take vitamin C and zinc, and thyme and lungwort for coughs. Andrographis for colds and fever, reishi mushroom to stimulate the immune system, holy basil and feverfew for headache relief.
4. What if you’re not getting better?
A cold or flu that drags on is usually because you’re not getting enough rest, or you return to work or celebrate prematurely while your body is still trying to recover. By not resting, you are placing yourself at risk of exposure to secondary infections like sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia while your immune system is busy fighting the original illness.
Symptoms you had earlier may become worse.
• To help recovery: see your doctor or call 911
• To help make a full recovery: take medication as prescribed by your family physician. If you are prescribed antibiotics, consider taking probiotics to help recolonize your gut with the bacterial strains that promote a healthy digestive tract after you’ve completed the course.
Get your rest and drink lots of water!
5. You’re feeling better
Symptoms are starting to fade but beware: nasal congestion and dry coughs can take up to four weeks to fully subside.
Symptoms are starting to go away.
• To help make a full recovery: continue to take zinc and vitamin C. Take it easy by avoiding rigorous activity and exercise. Steer clear of others who are sick . Try goldenseal for sinusitis and fennel for mucous relief.
Go enjoy the holidays!