Here in the Portland area, I’ve already encountered a few different cold strains this year.  I have yet to see any cases of the flu, but it’s only a matter of time.  While I love seeing patients, sometimes staying home and resting is your best strategy with the simple forms of these illnesses.  Below you will find a few tips on how to care for yourself should illness strike your house.

What to take in:

  1. Elderberry syrupYou can read all about elderberries and their anti-viral properties here.  Taking 1 Tbsp (1 Tsp for children) of elderberry syrup daily to ward off colds and flu.  If you do fall ill, increase your dose from once daily to 3-4 times daily.
  2. FluidsOne of the worst parts of having a cold or flu is not being able to breath due to thick sticky mucus.  The very best way to thin this and keep it flowing out is to drink copious amounts of fluid.

What to do:

  1. Warming socksThis is an old naturopathic remedy that not only works to modulate the immune system, it also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system.  All you need is access to cold water, a pair of cotton socks, and a pair of wool socks.  Make sure your feet are warm first and that you have plenty of blankets on your bed.  I and everyone in my house knows the surprising effects of warming socks on cold and flu symptoms.
  2. Rest – You could hop yourself up on cold and flu medicine and caffeine and power through, but this will likely accomplish two things getting everyone around you sick and extending the length of your illness.  The more you rest at the first sign of illness the quicker you will recover.

What to avoid:

  1. SugarAs nice as a bowl of ice cream or jello may sound – just say no.  Sugar can thicken mucus, feed whatever infection has taken you over, and create inflammation that will amplify your symptoms.
  2. Any known food allergiesAt this point, you are adding insult to injury.  Sticking to easy to digest foods like chicken or vegetable soup or even fasting for 24 hours is much more helpful for decreasing the duration of your illness.

If you have a simple case of the sniffles, these measures will provide your body all the support it needs to recover. 

If you are experiencing pain, breathing difficulties, high fevers, intense headaches, or other worrying symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your doctor sooner rather than later to be checked for a more complicated or dangerous illness and to receive extra support.  Some strains of cold and flu are more aggressive and some can set you up for a secondary bacterial infection such as an ear infection, strep throat, or pneumonia.  We want to catch these early so they are easier to treat. 

If you have a chronic illness, or are experiencing an illness that acts unlike any other you have previously experienced, this is also a time to seek out medical care.