Over the holidays many homes were full of the flu or colds rather than peace and joy. No one wants to be sick over the holidays, but it is a season notorious for passing illness from one family member to the next.
Even though the holidays are over, we likely haven’t even seen the worst of the flu season. That’s why Randy Archibald, PA-C of St. Mark’s Primary Care at West Valley thought it was a good idea to review the basics of taking care of loved ones, or yourself, when the flu or cold bugs bite.
Why do you feel so tired when you are sick? It is because the body’s immune system is using the energy normally used daily activities to fight the infection. Because of this, it’s important to rest as much as possible during the illness to help your body recover. Try to get a couple extra hours of sleep every night and avoid strenuous work or exercise until the illness resolves.
Food and Fluid Intake
In South America they say, “el enfermo que come no muere”… the sick person that eats doesn’t die! With decreased appetite and nausea that often go along with respiratory illnesses it’s important to make a conscious effort to continue eating and increase your fluid intake while you are sick. Eat small amounts of easily-digestible food (breads, soups, pasta) regularly throughout the day and drink water or other healthy liquids as often as possible. This will prevent dehydration and give your body the nutrients it needs to fight the illness.
Fever is one of the symptoms that makes you feel the worst during an illness, so if you can keep the fever down you will have better energy levels, better appetite, and fewer body aches. Unless you have a medical condition that prevents it, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) on a regular schedule while you are sick. A bath or shower is another great way to reduce a fever. The chemical properties of water cause it to take heat away when it evaporates, which brings the body’s temperature down.
As always, if you feel like you have the flu with a sudden onset of fevers, body aches, fatigue, cough, and nausea; go see your medical provider within 48 hours so that influenza medications are effective. It’s also a good idea to see your medical provider if your cold symptoms last more than a week or if symptoms are getting progressively worse.
Randy Archibald is a physician’s assistant at St. Mark’s Primary Care at West Valley in West Valley City, UT. This clinic accepts same day appointments and offers extended evening and weekend hours. For more information, visit their website or call (801) 969-0200.