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What To Do If You Get the Flu - The First 48 Hours

Flu can be serious. It should always be treated aggressively to avoid the risk of developing pneumonia. If you think you have the flu, don’t wait to see how bad it will get. Start treating it aggressively from the beginning. Follow the instructions below. Use 2 or 3 of the immune boosters listed under “note 4”. Don’t take anything that will suppress your fever. Stay home, get lots of sleep and rest, eat lightly, have lots of fluids.

Gargle with salt water, and do a neti pot or sinus rinse twice/day ( see note 1 below for more information)

Rejoice if you have a fever; and if you don’t, heat yourself up with a hot bath, sauna, hot tea or spicy food – NEVER suppress a fever during a cold or flu (see note 2 below for more information)

Keep yourself warm, particularly your neck and chest

Change your clothes immediately if you have been sweating to avoid getting a chill

Take time off work, rest and get some extra sleep. You need a break, and it prevents you from spreading your germs. A few days off now prevents 10 days off later. (see note 3 below for more information)

Take something to stimulate immune function (see note 4 below for more information)

Eat only easy to digest, healthy food such as soups, stews, stir fries and other cooked, warm foods. Avoid all known food sensitivities and all types of sugar, sweets and dairy products until you are better.

Let your nose run, and don’t suppress a cough unless it is preventing you from sleeping – cough and runny nose are your body’s way of trying to flush the virus out

Do warming socks every night at bedtime until you are feeling better. Warming socks will help drain some of the congestion from your head, help you sleep better, and gently stimulate your immune system. Instructions are on our “Resources” page.

Note 1 - After you have been exposed to the viruses that can cause colds or flu, they will try to move into your body and set up camp. Then, they will begin to multiply until there are enough of them to start causing symptoms. During this setting up and multiplying time, if you can flush them out you may be able to prevent yourself from getting sick. So, the first thing to do, as soon as you think you may have been exposed, is to gargle with salt water, and, use a neti pot or sinus rinse once or twice/day. You may also choose to just do this every day if you feel you are frequently exposed to people who are sick. You can also gargle with HEMPB formula to really kill off those germs.

Note 2 - Eventually, there will be enough viruses living in your body to trigger symptoms. The first symptom should be a rise in your body temperature. Children do this really well, but most adults don’t. This rising temperature is your body’s way of making you an uncomfortable place for that virus to be. Most viruses thrive in a normal body temperature. If you are an adult, and you are starting to get symptoms with chills, or you don’t have a fever, do what you can to get your body temperature up as quickly as you can. A hot bath, a sauna or even a cup of hot tea or soup will help. Many people find some spicy food is helpful for this (as long as it doesn’t upset your stomach).

If you are an adult who is fortunate enough to get a fever, whatever you do, don’t take anything that will suppress the fever. The fever is critical to you getting through this quickly. Keep an eye on the fever, by checking it 3-4 times per day. If your fever goes higher than 104F (40C), you have something other than a cold or flu and you should seek help. Drink lots of water, herbal teas, broths and soups to stay well hydrated.

Any child with a fever should be monitored frequently. Check a child’s fever more often as it gets higher, but, don’t necessarily bring it down unless it starts to approach 104F (40C). Use cool cloths to the neck and face and a tepid bath to keep your child comfortable. Be very careful to keep your child well hydrated. Homeopathic belladonna is generally all that is needed to quickly and safely reduce a child’s fever. If this is unavailable, or if you prefer, Tylenol can be used.

Note 3 - Most of the time we get sick when we are run down, over tired or stressed. Getting sick is one way your body tells you to slow down and take a day off. So, slow down and take a day off. Often, a day off at the beginning will allow you to heal within a few days. Pushing through, going to work (and spreading your germs around) not only makes you sicker, but also exposes others to your virus.

Note 4 - It is important that everyone have something immune stimulating at home that they can take at the first sign of a cold or flu. Choose at least one of the following, keep it on hand, and take it at the first sign of illness.

Lots of fresh, raw or lightly cooked garlic (at least 3 cloves) – mix with olive oil or butter to help it go down

Hot ginger tea or hot chicken soup with lots of onions and a little cayenne – both should increase your temperature and induce sweating – very beneficial if you are chilled

Immune stimulating herbs or herbal combinations. The most effective general options are:

  • HEMPB or Immune Formula – an old naturopathic formulation – is ideal when there is lots of discharge and an inflamed throat

  • Elderberry (often mixed with echinacea – great for kids)

  • Mint/yarrow/elder combination taken in hot water is very effective and tasty especially in the first and last stages of a cold or flu

  • Oil of oregano

Vitamin C – up to bowel tolerance

A gentle laxative such as prunes or hemp hearts if you are constipated – constipation is a common occurrence right before a cold or flu sets in

Homeopathic occillicinum – this seems to work really well for some people and not at all for others. If you respond well to homeopathy, it may be worth trying.

If you are coughing, or you feel your lungs are involved, you will need a custom made formula. Please make an appointment for a quick lung exam and then the appropriate herbal formula can be made for you.


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