It’s that time of the year in North Carolina where the weather doesn’t understand what it’s doing and everyone’s sick (including myself). You either feel like dying when you go outside from both extremities of the thermometer, or you’re dying on the inside. Because the surrounding area has already gotten hit with the flu virus (Ashe County Schools shutting down to be cleaned), and several students at UNC Charlotte are also having flu-like symptoms, here are some tips and tricks to help you maneuver your way through the 2019 flu season.
- CLEAN. Obviously stated, it’s crucial to set aside a little bit of time to remove dust, grime and any bacteria from the most-inhabited areas of your life. You may not be reacting to the air around you now, but when you’re coughing up a lung three days later, your body will be more susceptible to other bacteria or viruses. Clorox wipes and Lysol spray are your two best friends for this task. Also think of things that you use all of the time unconsciously: wash your bed sheets, wipe doorknobs and light switches, even sweep up dust and dirt to help your body in the long run.
- Over-the-counter medicines. If you don’t have the time or money to go to the doctor (which should be the first thing you should consider when you start noticing symptoms) head to your nearest Walmart, Target, CVS or Walgreens to pick up something that might help you relieve symptoms. The symptoms that I had/still have were sinus pressure, sore throat and a cough. Some of the things that helped me out were Vicks Sinex (sinus nasal spray that burns like crazy but opened up my head), Cepacol cough drops (these come in a small box and have an active numbing ingredient that makes your mouth and throat numb), and a humidifier with a few essential oil drops (I have both peppermint and eucalyptus oils; great for stuffed-up noses). Since I was able to go to the doctor, I was already given Tamiflu and was worried about mixing it with Dayquil.
- Rest and relaxation. This by far helped me the most with my recovery. I took off from my work and internship for a two day period and just about slept the whole time. Then I gave my body the chance to recover. I also took scalding hot showers and let the steam form so that I could breathe in essential oils and Vicks. I also have some medicine to help me sleep. Even adding a sleep aid to the flu routine will help your body sleep deeper and longer.
- Foods to eat/avoid. When I have a severe cough, I typically steer clear of dairy products because they can make your cough worse (not everyone would agree, but it’s all things I’ve learned about my body over the past few years which might be helpful to others). If you are having stomach pains along with your flu, stay away from spicy food that might upset it. Try to eat broth-based soups like the standard chicken noodle, minestrone and even ramen. Teas help temporarily sooth the throat, and honey (a natural antibacterial) by the spoonfuls work wonders. Plain foods like toast, buttered noodles and mashed potatoes all help get and keep food in your stomach. Also drink LOTS OF WATER.
- Read your body. The best way to understand how to help your body is to know your body. What symptoms do you have? Have you drank water? What is your body telling you it needs? Do you have the materials you need to help your body? If you don’t know what your body is going through, you can’t treat it, and this could possibly lead to a more severe virus like pneumonia.
This flu season is really hitting Charlotte so be prepared before you end up in bed for a full week and catch something more intense than the flu. Instead, catch some zzz’s, some healthy fruits and vegetables, and these hands (that you need to wash so you don’t spread diseases).