Kicking colds – What you can do to prevent colds and flus
By Dr Monique Hallee BScHK.
The kids are back to school, the weather is cooler, Halloween candy is readily available, and another busy fall means more stress than may be good for us – all of it contributing to a slightly weaker immune system. Even the healthiest of us will get sick from time to time and that is normal. We need to get sick just to keep our immune system working. The trick is to be able to quickly recover from a little cold or flu without having it run us down for weeks. If you have trouble kicking colds or cannot afford to let the flu get the best of you, here is a guide for how to improve your health.
First, let’s discuss some ideas for the average person who is starting to feel under the weather. The best time to beat an illness is always at the beginning. If you feel a tingle in your throat or are just achy with a mild fever or chills, take action before it progresses. That would be the time to start loading up on certain vitamins like C, A and D. If you have the opportunity to go to bed early or take a nap, do it. Also the old recommendation of getting lots of fluids isn’t a bad one. A hot bath or some mild exercise, like a walk around the block can also be helpful to bring on a bit of a fever if your body hasn’t naturally started to sweat yet on its own. Nourish yourself with good foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, dark leafy green vegetables, kiwi and berries, which are high in vitamins A and C. If you are sick with a lot of mucus in your sinuses or running from your nose, be sure to avoid mucus-producing foods like sugar, orange juice, dairy, alternative “milks” like soy milk, bananas, alcohol and wheat, to name a few.
If you are searching your local health food store for ideas, don’t be afraid to ask for help by a trained professional before spending a lot of money on things you don’t need. There are a number of Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments that are quite effective, just be careful that they are not full of sugar. Herbs, in general, are easy to find in most pharmacies and grocery stores. Usually you will find teas that are marketed as immune boosting or sore throat healers. Keep in mind that, if you are buying tea bags, there is likely not a lot of useful medicine in one bag, so you may need to use more than one for a brew. Be sure to steep teas for 15-20 minutes in boiling water and cover with a lid while steeping to prevent the loss of medicinal compounds.
Now let’s consider those who get sick all of the time or have difficulty recovering once ill. For this it is important to ask why you might be more ill than others. With enough investigation and professional help, the cause of a weakened immune system can be found. Treatment then varies on a person-to-person basis. Sometimes there are other situations that make life difficult, like improving from an upper respiratory tract infection if you have an existing condition, like asthma. In those cases, specific protocols must be followed for the individual.
If you don’t have a known condition, ask yourself: Does this pattern seem to be seasonal? Is it related to stressful events, even if the stress is good? Are there any external factors that should probably change in my life (diet, mold in the house, toxins in the work place etc)? Seeking help in those areas may significantly improve your immune system. And, as with any medical treatment, natural or otherwise, ask a profession if it is right for you. In some cases, the simple things that you can easily buy might actually make you worse. For example, if you suffer from hayfever, you need to seek help before trying certain herbal remedies.
If you have questions about your own health that you would like answered contact Dr Hallee. If your question is a good article topic, it could be featured in a column!
For further information, see a health care provider for more tips on how to keep you and your family healthy or, if you have a specific question, use the comments box below or email Today Media to have it answered.