"Serve God, love me and mend."
Much Ado about Nothing, Act V, Scene II
Last week I returned on Tuesday from Ireland with many souvenirs, including the flu. AC was slated to leave three days hence, on Friday, to travel for work to Luxembourg, so he did his best to stay away from me (which was helped by the fact he had to take a last minute trip to Houston for a client Thursday morning, not returning until Friday morning), but SC, unfortunately, was not so lucky. It is easy enough to encourage her not to cuddle and kiss, but she was still stuck in the same house, breathing the same air full of my flu germs.
So, on Thursday evening, when she started to cough and run a slight fever, I figured she had picked it up. We started a homeopathic regimen immediately, but around lunchtime Friday, she deteriorated. I called her pediatrician, who sent me to the urgent care clinic, and in the twenty minutes we drove from home to the clinic, her temperature had jumped from a low 99.9º to over 102º. She was diagnosed with the flu, as well as slight bronchitis.
This week, for Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to focus on ten things that helped us kick the flu in just a few days (much less than the average one to two weeks).
1. WARM tea (decaffeinated) with honey and lemon: First of all, those with the flu should be drinking lots of fluids (I am sure this sounds familiar), but tea is much more soothing when sick than plain water. However, if the tea is too hot, the throat of the drinker will only become more irritated, so it needs to be comfortably warm. Honey is a great throat soother, and if local honey is available, it will provide additional protection against allergens that might want to take up roost while the flu virus is there. Lemon is an antiseptic, and will help make the throat an uninhabitable place. Finally, it is important that the tea is naturally decaffeinated, as caffeine will only dehydrate the drinker more. I find a chamomile tea is wonderfully relaxing and takes to the honey and lemon flavors well, and for sinus congestion, a peppermint (herbal) tea is gratifying.
2. echinacea & vitamin C: This is something to start taking if when exposed to another who is sick, or as soon as symptoms personally start. Both of these are immune boosters, and will help a body fight foreign invaders, like the flu. They can be found in tea form, caplets, or even drops to add to orange juice.
3. daily vitamins: Keeping as much of a body's systems going as regularly/normally as possible is important, so unless a doctor specifically says not to take daily vitamins, these should be taken. I know it is hard to remember and keep up with when feeling poorly, but it makes a difference.
4. elderberry: Elderberry is another thing that can be taken as soon as exposure to someone with flu-like symptoms, or even simply added to daily vitamins throughout the flu season. There have been studies done documenting the effect elderberry extract has on the flu, and I think if I had been taking mine throughout the trip (as well as my daily vitamins - AC thought I would get flagged for drug trafficking with a bag of unmarked vitamins, so I didn't take anything with me), I may not have caught it at all. We take elderberry in lozenge form, but it comes in syrup, or you can even make your own.
5. a good cough syrup: Generally, if I am constantly drinking tea, cup after cup, full of honey and lemon, I rarely need to take a cough syrup to mask my cough symptoms. Sometimes, tea just isn't an option (though I have done my best to make it work in as many situations as possible). Every year, at the beginning of the year, no matter what other illnesses I get (or don't get), I always get a cough. AC and I joke that one of the things that attracted him to me was the constant smell of menthol coming from my face for the first three months of our dating relationship. So, I have tried every cough syrup, and most of them don't work past the time it takes for the syrup to slither down your throat. This is true, also, with cough drops/lozenges, and I laugh every time I pop another one in my mouth without making it to the two hour window. I have found, however, a homeopathic cough syrup that not only works a reasonably decent amount of time, but it also seems to nip my cough in a few days instead of a few months. It is called Chestal, and made by Boiron, the makers of many homeopathic remedies, and if you do not have a good cough syrup, I would highly recommend it. As it happens, my current favorite cough drops are Jakeman's Throat & Chest drops, in the honey and lemon flavor, though Ricola Honey Lemon with Echinacea will do in a pinch (and can be found at Target).
6. soup: This goes along with the warm tea suggestion, but most soups are also a bit lighter on a stomach than other meals. Typical sick-person fare is toast/crackers, which we usually don't eat anyhow, much less when our bodies are trying to fight off invaders. I am of the opinion to give those invaders as few supplies as possible, so I would recommend soups that are broth-based, with vegetables, lean meats and no dairy or grains. In fact, the only grain I allowed in any soup we had was wild rice in our chicken and wild rice soup.
7. hot showers/steam: Sitting in a hot shower, breathing in the steam, breaks down the mucus that comes to line the esophagus and lungs when the flu takes over. Loosening this mucus (which can be helped along by tapping on your chest lightly and rhythmically) will allow for it to be coughed up and out of the body, and will ultimately help with breathing. If your shower does not allow for you to sit in it with the water hot enough, you can close yourself into a small bathroom and sit in a chair near the open shower, turning the entire bathroom in to a steam room.
8. acetaminophen/ibuprofen: Fever is one of those things that comes with the flu, and while it is indicative that a body is fighting, too high of a temperature can be disastrous. Therefore, fever should be controlled with either acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or a rotation of both. In our family, ibuprofen works much better, but when SC runs a high fever, we have to alternate both, giving her one every three hours, in order to keep her temperature at a reasonable level. She has had febrile seizures before (and in fact did have one with this illness), and while one every now and then with illness is unexceptional, having them frequently can be detrimental, as well as frightening to watch. Therefore, we try our best to keep her temperature down so that they do not recur.
9. rest/sleep: When a person sleeps, their body does quite a bit of work, and when one is sick, their body can fight the illness without having to expend energy doing anything else. While many of the other suggestions I have made are merely to manage the flu and make one more comfortable, this one will really help your body fight. Get as much rest as possible, and sleep as much as possible. If your child is sick, enforce naptime, and try to keep him/her as sedentary as possible while he/she is awake. If it is you, call in sick to work if you can (and if you cannot, you risk infecting everyone you come in contact with, plus prolonging your illness). This means if your job is a mom/dad, you may need your spouse to call in sick and take care of you (and the kids). I was lucky that AC was already planning on taking the day off after I returned home, as that is when I did most of my healing, allowing me to go back to "work" when he had to leave.
10. Tamiflu: This is the recommended prescription medicine for the flu virus, though it must be started within 48 hours of symptoms. There is quite a bit of hubbub about this medicine as the side effects are not the best, and even if only 1-2% of people get the scary ones, it can happen. I put this on the list because I wanted to point out the time difference between SC and I, because she did take it (at the directive of her pediatrician, whom I trust) and I did not. My symptoms started a week ago Saturday afternoon, and I was unable to get to my physician until Tuesday afternoon, well past the 48 hour symptom start window. Therefore, he did not prescribe me Tamiflu. My symptoms started to clear up on their own (after doing the other steps, most since inception of symptoms) on Thursday evening, and by Friday morning I was feeling much better, making my entire flu experience about six days. SC, on the other hand, had symptoms starting Thursday evening, and was symptom free by Sunday morning after following all the steps, including Tamiflu, making her flu illness two and a half days.
If you or any of your family have the flu, I feel for you! This is the first time I have caught anything other than a quick stomach bug in a very long time and it was miserable. Hopefully the recommendations I have listed above will be helpful if you, too, are fighting the flu this winter.
Do you have any get-better recommendations? Leave a comment, then check out other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:
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**I am not a physician, nor do I intend to represent myself as such. The information presented on this blog constitutes personal "mom" recommendations rather than a professional recommendation, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor is it intended to take the place of a physician's advice. Any use of, or actions taken based upon, any of the information contained on or accessed through this blog is done entirely at your own risk. Readers are urged to seek professional medical assistance if they believe they have any symptoms of the flu, whether or not discussed here, as it is a serious condition that could require professional medical treatment.