It’s that time of year again. A hefty number of patients I see at the clinic are now coming in with runny noses and hacking coughs, followed by a trail of Kleenex.
Here are 8 tips you should know now that cold and flu season has arrived.
- Never stop a cough when you’re hacking up colors of the rainbow.
If it’s green or yellow, and you have a fever, you have a problem and probably need antibiotics. Only use a cough suppressant if you have a dry, hacking cough. If it’s a wet cough, that stuff needs to come up so it doesn’t turn into a bacterial infection, so don’t suppress it unless it’s keeping you up all night long.
- Flu shots can give you the flu.
Although not common, some people experience a mild flu after receiving a flu shot. This is not to say that you shouldn’t get one. And although last year’s flu shot was only 19% effective, this changes every year, as scientists try to predict which flu strains will be the most common and target the next vaccines against them. The flu vaccine topic is as controversial as the 2016 presidential election, so the decision is ultimately up to you, however.
- Don’t try to cool your body when you have a fever.
By taking a cool bath or wiping yourself down with rubbing alcohol, your body will cool temporarily and then react by spiking your temperature dangerously high. Think of it this way: your body naturally fights infection by raising the temperature. If you cool yourself down, your body will try even harder to raise the temperature again and it will also take longer to fight the infection. However, if your temperature is climbing high and you are very uncomfortable, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. Don’t be a martyr.
- Chicken soup really can help cure a cold.
The warm liquids rehydrate you faster. The vegetables’ anti-inflammatory properties help symptoms. You also need more protein when you’re sick to help repair damaged cells, and that’s where the chicken comes in. Momma was right.
- Don’t cover your mouth with your hands when you cough.
Instead, cough into your elbows. Coughing onto your hands will just spread the contamination. Do everyone a favor and try to keep it to yourself.
- Get some sun.
Natural light boosts the immune system. How? When you are out in the sun, your body uses it to produce Vitamin D, which plays a bug part in your immune system’s function. Although you may not want to leave the couch when ill, making an effort to go outside for 15 minutes can do wonders for you.
- Antibiotics will not help a virus.
Stop asking for them when you have a cold! Antibiotics are for bacterial infections only. Doctors are overprescribing antibiotics because patients pressure them and annoy them, which creates antibiotic resistance, meaning they won’t work as well in the future when you really need them.
- Finish your meds.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them for however many days they’re prescribed. DON’T stop them just because you are feeling better. This also leads to antibiotic resistance. The little buggers that are still alive can multiply and pass on little survival cheat sheets to their friends.
Please note that this medical advice can’t replace the care of your doctor or health practitioner. If you’re not feeling well, my dearest sympathies to you. Go get yourself checked out.