The Flu Season
Winter is the usual flu season and many people catch this virus, therefore, it is really important to know the symptoms so you can treat them on time.
When you get the flu, the only true cure at the time being is to rest more, and whatever you do, there is no food or drink that will simply swipe off your symptoms easily.
When this happens, make sure you are well hydrated and you eat more nutrient-rich foods, which can help not to feel any worse than you already do.
When you have a flu, you may not feel like eating much since you’re under the weather, still, there are foods and beverages you can consume and boost your immune system during that period.
Before we continue with the best food options on how to beat the flu and pass safely through the flu season, you should know the basic symptoms of flu, since it is possible you may have a cold instead.
Cold Vs Flu – What’s the difference
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses.
These two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, and sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference between them based on the symptoms alone.
In general, the flu is much worse than the common cold, and the symptoms are more intense than cold has.
Colds are usually milder than the flu.
People with colds most often have a runny/or stuffy nose, and generally, this do not result in having serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.
Flu on the other hand, may cause serious health complications.
Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The most common flu symptoms can include:
- aching body
- a sudden fever and a temperature over 38 C
- tiredness and exhaustion
- dry and chesty cough
- severely sore throat
- headache when coughing
- difficulty sleeping (because of a runny nose)
- loss of appetite
Flu Symptoms In Children
Children are not immune from getting flu in the current flu season. The flu virus also causes the above mentioned symptoms in children, and your child may also have other symptoms that require medical attention.
These can include:
- not drinking enough fluids
- crying with no tears
- not waking up or interacting
- being unable to eat
- having fever with a rash
- having difficulty urinating
Oftentimes, it can be difficult to know the difference between the flu and a cold in children.
With both conditions (cold and flu), your child can develop a cough, sore throat and body aches, but these symptoms can be more severe with the flu.
If your child doesn’t have a fever, it may be a clear indication it has a cold instead.
In case you’re concerned about the symptoms your child has developed, you should definitely call your family pediatrician.
How To Treat Flu
If you wonder how to get rid of the flu fast and by yourself – you can:
- rest more and sleep
- keep warm
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat bodily aches and pains
- drink plenty of water or tea to avoid dehydration
Just remember – these are the basics.
How To Avoid Getting Flu
Flu is very contagious and infectious and it can easily spread to other people. If you want to know when is flu contagious – know that you’re more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu you should:
- wash your hands more often with warm water and soap
- use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
Good hands hygiene above all.
The Emergency Symptoms
As flu is a progressive illness, it means symptoms may get worse before they get better.
Not everyone responds the same to a flu virus. Your overall health and good immune system can determine the severity of the symptoms and how fast you will heal.
The flu virus can be mild or severe, however, in case you develop following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:
- breathing difficulties
- chest pain
- bluish skin and lips
- severe dehydration
- dizziness and confusion
- recurring fever
- worsening cough
Recovery Period From Flu
If you weren’t fortunate enough in the flu season, and you got the virus, allow yourself a reasonable recovery period.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you don’t go back to work (or school) until you’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without any medication included.
Even if you don’t have any fever signs, you should still consider staying at home until all other symptoms improve.
It’s safe to return to work or school when you can get back to normal activity without getting tired.
The recovery rate varies, and even if you feel better, you might experience a lingering dull cough, as well as fatigue for a few weeks more.
It is recommended always to see a doctor if the flu comes back, or gets worse after an initial recovery.
Recommended Foods To Eat When You Have A Flu
Here’s what is recommended to consume if you want to fight the flu season or the virus itself successfully.
Staying hydrated is the most important thing when you have the flu, especially if you have a fever and constant sweating episodes.
Sometimes, due to heavy sweating caused by a fever, drinking water isn’t sufficient enough.
You should additionally consume electrolyte-rich sports drinks or coconut water, so you can restore lost fluids and replenish sodium and potassium.
In case you have no desire for fluids or you have low appetite levels, you can try flavored beverages rather than plain water, as it might encourage you to drink more.
Nutritionists often advise against sugary sports drinks for people who aren’t spending a lot of energy while working out, but in this case, if you can’t eat solid foods, this may be the easiest way to get much-needed calories.
Another way to stay hydrated is to drink hot tea.
If you have taken paracetamol to lower your body temperature, drinking hot tea will cause heavy sweating, making your temperature to drop for a few points.
In this case – sweating is very good.
As the flu may cause upper respiratory problems, drinking warm or hot tea can help open lung airway paths and you can breathe more easily.
3.The All Mighty – Chicken Soup
Chicken soup has the best reputation to handle both cold and flu.
The salty broth can help hydrate and replace lost sodium (while you were sweating), and the vegetables will provide all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
The chicken itself provides protein, which is important for healing and getting your strength back when you’ve been sick for a while.
If you can eat it hot (but not to get burned), it will loosen up the mucus and clear nasal passages.
4.Plant Based Proteins
Chicken isn’t the only protein option.
When you’re sick, you can get protein from variety of protein drinks, or you can have them from plant based protein foods.
You can always have a great stew made from beans and peas, which is not only healthy and delicious, but warming, hydrating, and good choice in getting back you appetite on a track.
5.Fruits And Veggies
If you stock up on fruits and vegetables – it doesn’t mean you’ll get better sooner, but do know that antioxidants will have a big role in keeping your immune system boosted.
Choose produce with bold colors like bell peppers, oranges and berries.
6.Orange Juice And Vitamin C
When you have a flu, or you want to trick the flu season – you can always choose to drink your antioxidants.
Orange juice is a good source of vitamin C, which some studies suggest may help lessen the duration period of colds and flu, but taking it too much – might actually make you feel worse.
Because your body can absorb all the vitamin C at once, and it will cause gastrointestinal issues.
To avoid having large glasses of orange juice daily, simply mix 4 ounces (100 gr) of juice with 15 – 20 ounces (400-570 gr)of water to dilute the drink.
You’ll still be hydrated well and get 100% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C, without overloading on sugar and calories.
7.Foods With Zinc Presence
Another nutrient you need to take while you’re sick is – zinc.
Studies show that this mineral helps fight infection by regulating the immune system and taking zinc supplements may reduce duration of the common cold.
You can find it in a beef, which is also rich in protein and vitamin B, helping you recover faster and fully from the flu.
Do you know that 3 ounces (85 gr) of beef contains around 7 mg of zinc, which is about half of the recommended daily value for adults ? (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Other good resource of zinc are oysters and shrimp, although shellfish may not be as appetizing when you’re sick.
When you have a flu, you should aim for foods that can boost your energy levels, and B vitamins which play a big part as well.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in eggs, meat, shellfish and dairy, but if you’re vegetarian, or you just don’t feel like eating these, you can also get it from fortified grains, like many breads and breakfast cereals.
As the flu season is not over yet, it is always better to boost your immune system prior entering this general sickness phase, and easily get through.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get through the flu season with much ease, and by following doctor’s recommendations.
And if you do get a flu, make sure you have read all above and choose what works best for you while recovering.
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