Most discussions about the cold or flu involve prevention – healthy habits, things to do, certain situations to avoid and other preventative measures. But what about those crucial post-flu (or post-cold) days? With all the focus on the “before,” how does the “after” impact your well-being?
This blog post will look at 8 specific things to do after the cold or flu. How you recover from a cold or flu isn’t set in stone, and there isn’t a “flu recovery tips” user’s manual that works for everybody. Age, personal fitness level, susceptibility to getting the flu or cold and other factors ultimately determine how successful you’ll be when recovering from a cold.
Recent studies have shed some much-needed light on the subject. As we’ll see in a bit, how to recover from a cold properly might just depend, in some part, on your diet. Getting rid of infected body fluids (mainly mucus) in a timely manner can help anyone recovering from the flu. Researchers, scientists and doctors are discovering a host of issues that can help or hinder cold and flu recovery, with everything from personal hygiene to proper rest to strategic bouts of exercise.
But first, let’s look at the distinct differences between the cold and flu.
Cold and Flu – Onset and Avoidance
Before discussing the best ways to recover from a cold or flu, you have to know what exactly ails you. And the difference between the two is sometimes tissue-thin. Cold vs. flu symptoms sometimes seem to run together, partially because they impact the immune system in a similar manner, and also because there are rare instances where you can actually have a cold and flu at the same time!
As far as smart recovery options, it doesn’t matter what illness you’re trying to overcome. But it helps to know how the cold and flu differ. To recap:
The common cold, in the simplest terms, is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract (a fancy term for nose and throat). It’s hard to immediately cure, because well over a hundred viruses can cause a cold.
The flu, unlike the cold, is caused by a specific virus – the influenza virus. The flu is much more serious than the cold; millions of people catch the flu every season, resulting in thousands of deaths.
After the Illness: Optimize Recovery and Stay Healthy
Once you’ve recovered from the cold or flu, do the following handful of healthy activities for the best possible recovery. Plus, this plan of action will keep the cold or flu from returning quickly. Remember: Recovering from the flu isn’t an exact science; everyone bounces back differently. Try some or all of these things to see what works for you!
Wash your hands often. If you weren’t in the habit already, post-flu and post-cold recovery is the perfect time to start washing your hands – after meals, before handling food, whenever it makes sense. This will help eliminate bacteria and germs that can restart everything all over again.
Humidify the air. Whether you use a standard humidifier or a bowl of water near a radiator, the warm and moist air will help prevent follow-up infections like sinusitis.
Go with garlic. It’s not for everybody, but this glorious, pungent bulb is worth your consideration. Garlic’s natural antiviral and antibacterial attributes make it one of the best post-flu and post-cold foods, bar none. Even for those who aren’t keen on the sharp, sometimes overpowering taste of garlic, it’s worth a shot. Sprinkle some extra crushed garlic on your pizza, or go with some fresh-pressed garlic on some bruschetta. For faster recovery from the flu or cold, the quality of garlic seems to matter; studies show that fresh garlic is more effective than processed garlic.
Get active again, but don’t overdo it. Regular physical activity helps get the body back in gear, literally and figuratively. Avoid super-strenuous exercising immediately after the flu or cold; work your way back to your old routine in a week or two.
Avoid stress. Too much stress can wreak havoc on the immune system, which defends against the influenza and common cold viruses. So skip the 60-hour work weeks (or even call in sick if necessary), at least for a while. Keep stress low, and your chances of becoming ill again will also stay low.
Blow your nose in the shower. Seriously. When you’re in the shower, the heat and steam naturally relaxes and loosens nasal passages, making this the perfect time to gently blow your nose. If you prefer a lukewarm shower, try inching up the temperature a few degrees to generate the necessary heat. According to Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, this is an effective method and “will help you clear things out.”
Sleep more. It really isn’t that difficult when recovering from the flu, so this might be the easiest way to bounce back quickly. To some degree, the human body’s ability to fight the flu and cold has to do with the amount of antibodies present in our immune system. Researchers have concluded that people who sleep less have fewer antibodies, which makes it harder to fend off diseases. On the other side of the coin, recovery from the flu or a cold can be quickened with increased sleep. Get enough sleep, and you’re better prepared to both prevent and recover more quickly from the cold or flu. So shut the blinds, put on your PJs and turn off the lights – it’s one of the best things you can do during post-flu and post-cold recovery periods.
Do some spring cleaning. Germs and bacteria despise clean freaks. You don’t have to be obsessive about cleanliness when recovering from the cold or flu, but it definitely helps to sanitize your surroundings. Disinfect your bathroom and kitchen, but don’t forget about those pesky “points of contact” (door knobs, light switches, etc.) and your laundry. This goes along with washing your hands often (see above), where the same principle applies: if keeping yourself clean helps during flu and cold recovery, then it makes sense that a clean house or apartment will also help!
Before and after the cold or flu, the Banner Urgent Care network of clinics and medical facilities can help you remain as healthy as possible. Remember, we offer seasonal flu shots at each of our walk-in clinics and office locations – just stop in; no appointments necessary. For flexible and affordable healthcare throughout Arizona, Banner Urgent Care is the only immediate care center you need.
Thanks for checking out the Banner Urgent Care blog – make sure you stop back for other ways to stay off the sick list all year round. If you’d like to speak with one of our customer service representatives, please call us at (480) 988-9108. We look forward to serving you today!