During flu season, I usually feel a hint of sickness that quickly subsides while others develop the full-blown flu. I can only remember really having the flu once before. Never a fan of fads, getting the flu along with celebrities such as Sanjay Gupta, Marilyn Manson and Anderson Cooper was a double whammy.
Despite the usual hygiene precautions, this illness seemed inevitable. Coughing is usually a strong indication of a contagious illness, but it is actually a regular part of my sister’s respiratory treatments. After she spent a few days coughing into an oscillating fan that blew towards me, she found out she had the flu. I declared her patient zero, but the truth is many people are walking around coughing and sneezing making it difficult to avoid their germs.
According to the CDC, the flu virus can be contagious one day before symptoms begin and up to seven days after that. Unhealthy people and children can shed the virus for a longer period of time. A recent article on WebMD indicates that H1N1 (swine flu) can spread up to ten days after the symptoms begin.
We hear the same basic tips every flu season — rest and drink plenty of fluids, but there is a little more to it. Here are my recovery tips for surviving the flu.
Rest as much as possible, but be careful not to stay in one position too long. Otherwise, congestion can settle in or you may develop achy, stiff muscles. Use pillows or a recliner to rest in an upright position.
Change your sheets or at least your pillowcase while you are recovering.
Unless you want to spend your days counting the lines on the ceiling, gather DVDs, magazines or books to stay busy.
Keep the remote control and telephone handy so you do not have to move too much, but be sure to clean them with disinfectant or an alcohol wipe.
If you do not like the taste of those sweetened electrolyte-rich drinks, try broth. Sip it slowly to make sure you can stomach it.
Even if you do not feel like eating, try sipping warm broth. Breathing in the steam will help relieve dry nasal passages and congestion. The warm drinks can also help soothe a dry, itchy throat caused by coughing.
The light flavor of frozen fruit juice, popsicles or plain ice chips can be very soothing as well.
Keep a beverage nearby so you can sip it throughout the day. Be sure not to use the same glass too long.
Getting the flu does not mean you are immune to a second round. The virus can change and overpower your immune system. Take it easy for a few weeks after you recover. Get plenty of rest, stick to a healthy diet and do not overexert yourself
Key Facts About Seasonal Influenza (Flu), CDC.gov
Swine Flu: How Long Are You Infectious?, WebMD.com