No one wants to get sick. You’re stuck in bed and you can’t do much. You want to get back to work as soon as possible. How do you make yourself heal faster?
The last time I got the flu, I learned a few lessons on how to recover faster and better. Although there are no hard scientific data for some of these tips, we just have to rely on common-sense and see what works for us. The advices I’ve listed here mostly apply to a bout of fever but it can be useful for other sickness, too.
1. See or call your doctor. First, we need to give you the best medical care. Doctors have to get the correct diagnosis first before they can prescribe a cure. If it’s the seasonal flu, you need to stay in bed for a day or two.
2. Take your medicines. Once your doctor prescribes you a medicine, you should take it religiously. When you get ill, it’s really a battle between the good guys and the bad guys. You are the good guy. The bad guy is the virus or bacteria. We need to take our medicines and stack the odds in our favor.
3. Don’t let the fever go high. Hence, take paracetamol 250 mg or 500 mg tablet every 4 hours. There’s some controversy here. Some experts say that fever is beneficial because it can kill the bacteria. But if your fever is more than 39 degrees centigrade, this can lead to confusion and maybe even convulsions. My common-sense advice is to religiously take your paracetamol and keep the fever below 38 degrees centrigrade most of the time. High fever feels awful and you don’t know what added harm it will do to your body.
4. Take antibiotics if needed. If it’s a bacterial infection, say pneumonia or tonsillitis, ordinary medicines can’t cure you. You need your antibiotics to destroy the bacteria. Take your antibiotics at the right dosage and the prescribed length of time.
5. Rest, rest and rest. Complete rest is the best way to replenish your energy. On some days, you may need to just eat, lie down and sleep. Go with the ebb and flow of energy. Rest if you feel weak. Do light chores if you feel strong. And sleep as long as you like.
6. Eat more food than usual. Again, there is an old saying that you should starve a fever. I don’t think this is correct. Common-sense dictates that you need energy to help the body fight the enemy. And where will you get energy other than the food you eat. Hence, try to munch every now and then even if you can’t taste or enjoy your food. Just eat a little throughout the day. Eat even if you feel nauseated, try to keep your food down. I usually lose 2 pounds when I get sick, so I try to indulge in more food and sweets during this time.
7. Take yogurt every day especially if you are taking antibiotics. Yogurt has the beneficial bacteria, called lactobacilli, which helps replenish the good bacteria removed by the antibiotics. A study by Dr. Georges Halpern at the University of California School of Medicine shows that yogurt increases the body’s gamma interferon, a substance that fights infection.
8. Drink lots of water or vitamin C-rich juices like orange, pineapple and lemon juice. Drinking 8 to 12 glasses of fluids a day can help decrease the fever, keep you hydrated and loosen sticky phlegm. Usually, water and food tastes funny when we have a fever. Drinking light juices may be more acceptable to you.
9. Take chicken soup. Studies have shown that chicken soup can help cure a bout of flu. According to a study by Dr. Stephen Rennard at the University of Nebraska, chicken soup contains the amino acid called cysteine, which can reduce colds and phlegm by decreasing the inflammatory response of the body. In order to maximize the benefit of chicken soup, add carrots, ginger, garlic, onion, sweet potato and black pepper to your broth.
10. Keep your environment cool and comfortable. The ideal room temperature is between 24 to 25 degrees centigrade. Resist the urge to cover yourself with thick blankets as this will only worsen your fever.
11. Listen to relaxing music. In music therapy, the sound of classical music or instrumental music can have a healing effect on you.
12. Take a warm bath if you feel strong. However, if you have a high fever, I believe it is better not to take a bath. Just clean yourself with a wet towel and soap. There’s no strict prohibition but taking a bath can be tiring and can cause an abrupt temperature change in your body.
13. Have a positive attitude. Image your body’s cell fighting the infection. In the same way, clear your mind on work and family issues. You need all your strength to fight off this disease.
14. Pray that you will get well soon and without any complications. And make sure you are fully recovered before going back to work.
Recovering from an illness can take time, but if you stay positive, you will heal faster. Remember, doing all of these tips will increase your chances of getting well sooner.