Precisely what is the dreaded "Flu"?
It's an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses A or B. While most people who get the flu recover in a week or two, others can develop severe and potentially life-threatening complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, those most threatened are children under five and adults older than 65, nursing home and long-term care residents, pregnant women up to two weeks postpartum, and others with weakened immune systems. So too are people with chronic illnesses or who are extremely obese.
If the flu strikes, stay home. You're sick and highly contagious. Embrace your downtime and heal your body with it. Curl up on the couch, read, watch TV, and nod off to sleep anytime. Get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night--your body is fighting a virus.
Drink plenty of fluids for both the flu or a cold. Fluids hydrate your respiratory system and convert thick mucus into a liquid you can spit out. An expectorant will thin the mucus, too. For congestion, the Mayo Clinic recommends over-the-counter decongestant tablets like Sudafed and nasal sprays. Studies suggest they narrow blood vessels in the lining of the nose and help reduce swelling.
Remember that protein is essential to maintaining body strength. Among your best sources for it are lean meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
For your cold, recent studies suggest that chicken soup may indeed degrade its symptoms. Nobody really knows why, but the evidence implies this time-honored remedy helps subdue inflammation. According to the American College of Chest Physicians, chicken soup appears to slow the movement of neutrophils, the white blood cells that harbor acute infection. Tests indicate the vegetables and chicken pieces combine to produce "inhibitory activity."
If you try zinc for a cold, be sure to follow dosage instructions carefully: Harvard Medical School recommends 15-25 mg per day.
As always, consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any health issues or symptoms.
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