Marching toward basketball mayhem, I was not thinking about five fundamentals for fighting influenza! That changed quickly after my middle-of-the-night major coughing episode. Influenza was a very rude intruder into my life! Yes, the influenza vaccine doesn’t always prevent the flu! My March Madness brackets would have to wait!
As a RA (rheumatoid arthritis) patient, my immediate thought was to minimize this assault on my body. With a compromised immune system, someone with RA has special considerations to take into account, which I did. I didn’t want an arthritic flare brought on by the viral infection. To keep it simple, I employed five fundamentals for fighting the influenza bug.
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection involving the nose, throat and lungs. It is thought to be spread by droplets in the air after coughing or sneezing or by touching a surface the droplets land on followed by contact with a mucous membrane, such as nose, mouth or eye. From exposure to having symptoms usually take one to four days. A person is unfortunately infectious about a day before symptoms appear and for up to about 7 days after becoming ill. Being contagious before symptoms appear adds to the infectious nature of the influenza bug as one could be spreading the infection before they know they have the infection! I was instructed I would no longer be contagious 24 hours after my temperature returned to normal. I like to play it safe, so I wore a mask for a few extra days if I went out in public. I figured it protected other people from my infection and it protected me from other potential infections.
The Five Fundamentals For Fighting inFLUenza
Fundamental One: Rest, Rest and More Rest!
This will not be difficult to do as you won’t feel up to doing much for several days. I would get up from resting every few hours just to move my body around so my joints wouldn’t get stiff. This also helps prevent blood clots. The first three days were definitely the worst. I coughed so hard my chest hurt, my head hurt and I was miserably congested.
Fundamental Two: Stay Hydrated!
When I got up every few hours to move around, I seized the opportunity to drink as much water as I could. I lost my appetite, so I purposed to eat as nutrient dense foods as possible such as bananas, oranges, chicken noodle soup, beef vegetable soup, oatmeal and peanut butter toast, knowing you don’t feel up to cooking! I also drank hot tea and fruit juices. Traditionally, I lose my appetite when I get a cold, then regain it when I feel better, so the loss of appetite didn’t concern me.
Fundamental Three: Antiviral medication!
As a RA patient on a biologic, my immune system is compromised, so my doctor ordered generic Tamiflu twice daily for 5 days. The Tamiflu is thought to lessen the severity of the infection and perhaps shortens the course. It was worth it for me to take for those reasons. The Tamiflu requires a prescription and is available generically.
Fundamental Four: Stop the Spread of Germs!
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose with a tissue, then discard the tissue! Avoid contact with others as much as possible!
Fundamental Five: Wash Your Hands Often!
Washing your hands for 20 seconds is suggested. My motto was, you can’t wash your hand too often! An alcohol based hand sanitizer is an option to use.
I began to feel better after about five days. My doctor and I decided I’d hold my biologic for a week to allow my immune system some recovery time, but that is an individual decision each person needs to make with their own health care provider.
I was so thankful the influenza did not cause my joints to flare. Using these five fundamentals allowed me to rest, stay hydrated, take an antiviral medication, stop spreading the germs and hand washing frequently aiding my recovery. I wanted to do everything I could to help my body heal.
Now that I’m feeling better I can concentrate on my brackets and some good basketball! Enjoy a little March Madness everyone! Health and Happiness to you! XOXO Cathy