Once again we’re fully immersed in cold & flu season – and it’s no joke this year. I’m revamping this post from last year – to include a few more strategies to not only crawl back from the depths of the despair that is the flu (should you find yourself there) but also on how to buff up that immune system to hopefully avoid illness altogether!
As previously stated, the flu is terrorizing the nation, it’s no different here in North Texas. As of today, the flu has claimed more than 2100 lives so far this season – and it’s only January folks! With that being said – this is super serious. No more games, no more excuses .. let’s get real about protecting ourselves, shall we?
How do I know I have the flu ?
Okay so feeling crummy doesn’t always equal the flu – even though it may feel like it. The full blown real deal influenza feels like walking death to be quite blunt. Joint pain, body aches, extreme fatigue, nausea/vomiting, fever, chills, headache, – the full gamut. If left untreated the flu can develop into pneumonia or even be accompanied by bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchioles).
Okay so – what do I do when I’m feeling like poo?
Wash, wash, wash those hands and put on a mask. It’s not a bad idea to keep a box at home. Whether you’re the sick one or you’re going out in public – a face mask will help filter those invisible germy critters floating towards your airways. If you’re the sick one, do us all a solid and put on a dang mask. Don’t spread your germs.
Once you’re properly garbed, head to your doctor’s office. Maybe they have designated sick hours for urgent visits or maybe you’ll need to find an urgent care center. DO NOT and I repeat do not go to the ER unless you’re experiencing an ACTUAL emergency. The doctor’s office/urgent care will swab your nose and throat to check for the flu and likely for strep. Blood work isn’t always necessary unless you’re looking pretty sickly. An IV for some basic hydration may be in order if you’ve been super yacky and can’t hold down any fluids. Depending on if you’re flu positive and how long you’ve had your symptoms, you may or may not receive Tamiflu (also pending any allergies). Tamiflu is an anti-viral that targets viruses (duh) – not any bacterial infections that might accompany the flu. If given, it will lessen (but not cure) the symptoms of the flu and shorten the recovery time.
So .. why can’t I go to the ER?
Guys – as a former ER nurse there is nothing worse than seeing patients who don’t belong there. Will they turn you away? No, that’s illegal. Will they roll their eyes at you when they’re behind closed doors – quite possibly. The ER is for emergencies people (plus you’ll get a huge, unnecessary bill)!
- Emergencies mean:
- loss of limbs, profuse blood loss, horrific traumas,
- loss of consciousness, heart attacks/strokes/cardiovascular conundrums,
- mental health emergencies and suicidal ideation,
- broken bones, sudden pain/redness/warmth/swelling in a limb
- trouble breathing
- severe allergic reactions (not minor rashes or hives)
- poison ingestion and/or smoke
- moderate to severe burns
- always always always call 911 if you’re unsure what to do!
- It does NOT include colds, sniffles, sneezes, man-colds, ear aches, etc. That is what a primary care doctor or urgent care center is for. If you don’t have an established primary care provider – I highly encourage you to find one. They’ll get to know you and how to treat YOU. That’s what they were CREATED for. Do not, and again I repeat, DO NOT clog up the already massively packed ER waiting room and infect everyone there in the process. Again – the best part about having a primary care provider is that they know you, your history, and when you probably are and aren’t ill (they may even call in something for you without you needing to go to their office).
Okay so, you’re down for the count. How do you survive?
If any of you follow me on Instagram or watch my instastories, you know I am hopelessly in love with food delivery services like Favor. Since I’m alone a lot of the time, they are totally my saving grace when I’m feeling puny and completely helpless. The last time I got the flu, I sent them to CVS and ordered a humidifier, a new thermometer, cough drops, ginger ale, and other essentials. I wrapped myself in a mountain of cozy blankets, put the Apple TV on for endless romantic movies, and grabbed my old baggie sweat pants. I also was put on massive amounts of steroids (because along with the flu I had RSV AND bronchitis), which I’m blaming the (twice) delivery of cupcakes on (steroids TOTALLY make you snacky!) and my favorite snack is by far anything sweet and scrumptious. Steroids also put your hormones on a fun little roller coaster straight to crazy town, but we’ll leave that part out.
But my top 10 best advice for getting over flu’s/coughs/crud is as follows:
1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Typically when you’re down for the count your body is pretty dehydrated, mostly due to a fever and/or accompanied sweating. Staying hydrated not only benefits every body system, it helps detoxify your body from all the bad juju hanging out in there (and help get all the goopy snot out). I like to drink warm water with lemon (really because it tastes a lot better) but the lemon is a natural detoxifying cleanse for your body. I also drink coconut water (which is massively hydrating) and loaded with potassium (but watch the sugar). If you’re sick to your stomach in any way, shape, or form, you’re losing electrolytes rather quickly, including potassium. Low potassium levels are dangerous for your heart and overall livelihood so replete asap! You can also blend gatorade with water, or pedialyte + water to regain electrolytes and dilute some of the sugar. Hot tea (lemon zinger, chamomile, lavender) with a hint of honey also does wonders. Starbucks also has a drink called the Medicine Ball – gosh it feels AMAZING on the throat!
2) Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken & Dumpling Soup: I completely believe this deliciousness gives you all the feels to get better. This recipe is super easy to make, and feels like an instant hug. I use a rotisserie chicken to eliminate half of the work. (For non-chicken fingers, I wear gloves!)
3) Rest: Your body is trying to heal and is viciously attacking the virus currently wreaking havoc on your immune system and therefore needs all the rest it can get. For the fellow girl geeks out there, I am known to turn on a) lord of the rings b) star wars/star trek c) harry potter d) the hobbit and cuddle up in my blankets for a nap with all my doggies. Rest and feel zero shame about it, you need every ounce of it.
4) Vitamin C: I typically invest in Emergen-C every year to help give me an added immune boost when I’m feeling icky. You can also invest in visiting a med spa for Vitamin B 12 shots, but many people are quite afraid of needles. So for a needle-less/poke free option, load up on your vitamin C and/or elderberry. Recently I discovered a new brand, Oxylent, that delivers all the same benefits as Emergen-C but without all the sugar! It comes in multiple flavors and is pretty tasty!
5) Flu Shots: guys.. yes, there are a lot of opinions floating around out there about the flu shot. NO it’s not a live virus (except for the nasal mist) and therefore cannot give you the flu. Typically the symptoms you feel are your immune system reacting to the vaccine – which is what you WANT to happen. It is COMPLETELY normal. YES your body can have a reaction to the vaccination, it is a foreign particle after all. Now, the nasal mist IS a live virus and has the potential to give you a mild form of the virus. There are several versions of the shot, typically tri-valent is available which means it covers three of the most predominant strains of the virus from the previous flu season. Sometimes you can luck out and find places that offer quadrivalent, which is what I always request as it offers the best coverage possible. The flu shot year by year varies (mutating viruses) but remember what I said about it lessening the effects if you do catch the virus?
But I got the shot, and I still got the freaking flu .. wtf man?
Hey guess what – YES you can still get the flu even when you get the shot. Remember when I just said it covers only 3-4 strains? There are a BAZILLION strains of the virus, because viruses are capable of mutating (they’re really good at it). BUT I will say with no pause, having the shot will make it much less miserable than not having it at all. AND guys.. I have seen people die horrific deaths from the flu. Not just the old, but the young as well. The virus went straight for their heart and ultimately killed them. People that were completely healthy until they got the flu! Young mothers, teenagers, the elderly, you name it. It’s something I never wish on anyone or their family, especially when it’s entirely preventable. Now remember, I come from the world of healthcare and whole-heartedly believe in preventive medicine and all the perks entailed. There are people who feel differently when it comes to vaccines, we are all entitled to our opinions, but mine will never change. And if you even try to go down the whole “vaccines lead to autism” path, I will consider you a complete idiot.
6) Pampering: I don’t know about you but pampering (when I’m feeling a little better) helps me feel like a new person. I like to get a mani/pedi and sometimes a massage or a facial. The massage also helps loosen all the toxins in your body and flush out with proper hydration. The mani/pedi makes me feel like more of a person with their act together and less like Slimer from Ghostbusters. Here in Dallas, I LOVE the Cherry app (they come directly to you!). Have you heard of them?
7) Online Shopping: I’d be lying if I didn’t say I pull out my laptop and peruse my favorite online stores. It sounds extremely silly, but it excites me to have some cute new outfits on the way by the time I’m feeling like myself again. OR I find things to put in my wish list and buy them when they go on sale! Plus it just helps pass the time. Not wanting to fall into temptation? Open up a new book! My kindle and I are inseparable! Here are my reads from this past year!
8) Kombucha: Did you guys know antibiotics can wipe out the “good” bacteria that lives in your gut? Yes, you have good and bad bacteria that live in harmony in your body. When one of them gets out of whack, bad things happen. Be proactive, especially if you’re put on antibiotics for some bacterial illness, and protect your gut with probiotics. I recently got into Health Ade Kombucha, a fermented tea packed with probiotics and other body feel goods. Love their pink lady apple flavor! Whether kombucha is your thing or you prefer Kefir (tastes like yogurt) or maybe Good Belly (yummy juice!) – probiotics are always a good idea. Happy gut- happy life yall. Also- try gargling apple cider vinegar! It’s one of those “home remedies” you hear about but man, when I start feeling off i.e. scratchy throat, I gargle a good amount of this stuff and it eats away bacteria like I devour chocolate cake! Num num num!
9) Exercise: You know all those things you hear about endorphins? They really do a body good and are a natural immune booster! Although I complain and groan when it comes to actually making myself get up and go – I’m always filled with such a sense of accomplishment when I leave. Whether I’m off to lift weights or go to a PureBarre class – the endorphin high is the best. Plus I feel less guilty about enjoying anything I want to eat (aka a whole pint of halo top).
10) Epsom Salt Baths: These baths have been my go-to ever since my teenage years, hurting from all day ballet rehearsals. Hot baths actually burn calories (hell yes!) while the epsom salt works its magic to ease sore muscles and discomfort, soothe headaches, and detoxify your system. Add a little bit of lavender and you’re on your way to steamy bliss.
I hope this helps alleviate your ailments if you happen to be sick or helps you avoid the plague altogether!
What are your sick day routines? I’d love to hear them!