Maybe it was the change in the weather, or that guy’s hand you didn’t want to shake, the recirculated airplane air or that someone just coughed in your face. Either way you got sick. You are now one if not all these characters from Snow White - Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy... and Cough-y and Fever-y. Your first instinct may be to grab the Anti-tussive to get rid of the cough, anti-histamine to reduce the mucus and antipyretic to get rid of the fever. There is, of course, one problem with this: you are now fighting your body from making you healthy rather than fighting the bug that’s invaded your body.
Humans have been fighting invading bugs ever since the beginning. Your body is trying to fight whatever bug you have managed to acquire, and it does it by creating inflammation, causing you to sneeze the bugs out, blow the mucus from your nose or raise the temperature in your body to burn up the bug.
Mucus surrounds the bug and attempts to render it ineffective. It also holds the bug until the body can send some immune soldiers to kill it. Then, the body ramps up mucus production and snot starts flowing. You end up blowing and sneezing everything out of your body, including the bugs. A fever is a wonderful tool the body uses to make bacteria and other bugs very uncomfortable. These bugs thrive at human body temperature. When your body raises the thermostat, it knows that most bugs can’t survive at these higher temperatures.
“Many parents have a misconception that fevers are a bad thing and a sign that there is some serious underlying illness. This simply is not true,” according to AskDr.Sears.com. “Low-grade fevers are helpful in fighting off infection. You should only treat a fever when it is making your child miserable. Treat your child, not the fever.”
When should you take your child to the doctor? According to Dr. Sears:
- Children seven weeks and younger should go to the doctor right away if they have a fever of 101 or more
- Children who are lethargic, irritable and have a temperature of 104
- If you have a gut feeling that your child is seriously ill
So, now you’re sick and you reluctantly decide to take my advice. Besides nothing, what else should you do?
- To eat or not to eat. Listen to your body on this one. Generally, it is better to eat less and drink more. Whiskey? No, but warm liquids such as teas and soup stocks are wonderful. Alcohol and sugary drinks will lower immunity and extend the sniffles. Listen to your body, and, if you are hungry, by all means eat. If not, relax and stay hydrated.
- Stay warm: Even if you‘re feeling feverish, you don’t want to strip down and run around in the cold. Again, they body has a temperature it wants to be at so stay warm, the quicker and easier your body gets to the desired temperature, the better. That means the body can focus less on raising your body temperature and more time on killing the bad guys. If you sweat, put on dry clothes. A wet washcloth on the forehead can be very comforting which is fine, but keep the rest of the body covered up and dry. Wait for the fever to break and the healing to begin.
- Sleep. For many, getting a cold is the body’s way of saying, “Take a break!”. If you are on the go, working out, going to work, your body has no choice but to focus on the demands you are placing on your body and less on healing. It’s better for everyone that you don’t bring your bug-filled snot to the office and pass it around like a secret Santa. Take a day or two off, try to pair it with a weekend and allow the body time to do what it does best.
- Stay out of the pharmacy. Don’t fight your body. Get out of the way and allow your body to do what it does best - heal.
- Finally, don’t get sick. Eat healthy proteins, healthy fruits and veggies and limited grains especially processed grains, sleep eight hours, drink six-10 glasses of water per day, have a minimum of one bowel movement per day, employ stress reduction techniques (yoga, exercise, meditation) and invest in healthy, productive relationships. Sounds too easy but there is great research for all of these.
Also, here’s an excellent Naturopathic Tea recipe for what ails you:
- Chop 4-8 cloves of garlic and place it in a large tea cup.
- Boil clean water and pour it into the tea cup and allow it to steep for 20 minutes.
- Add freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice from 1-2 lemons or limes.
- Add organic honey to taste, not too much though.
- Drink tea slowly while resting. Repeat if necessary.
- If you are feeling brave, eat the garlic at the end.
(This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.)