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by Jukka Valkonen, RN, PHN, and World Class Athlete
We're well into flu season and it's no joke this year. Last month, the CDC issued a high alert for a particular variant of H1N1 that packs a powerful respiratory punch. Children and adults had been hospitalized and deaths had been reported. While the CDC states that this year's flu shot is a 60% match to the strains going around, not everyone gets the vaccine. This article won't get into that controversial topic. Instead, we'll learn about ways to manage your health once you have the flu, and how to get yourself back to your usual life once the flu has run its course.
First, let's consider the affects the flu has on your body:
Because we feel so bad when we have the flu, many seek medical attention, either at the medical office, clinic, or emergency room. As a nurse who has worked in the ED, trauma, critical care and office settings, I've seen and treated many flu patients. So what did I and the physician do? Not much. With severe cases, IV fluids may be necessary. Antibiotics aren't effective. However, as a 30 year multi-sport veteran, I apply those experiences to how I manage my health when I get the flu. Here's what I do:
I've also used a SleepTracker watch for many years. The most accurate device uses a sensor that picks up fine tremor of the long tendon in the wrist when you're having an almost awake moment. When you're sick, your sleep cycles are totally messed up including having very short durations in deep, restorative sleep. As you begin to feel better, your sleep cycles will also begin to balance. Having a device like this allows you to anticipate when you may be ready for some light activity like a short walk. I believe walking is the best form of activity for recovery. It doesn't kick in your stress response, thus no cortisol release. It moves the body, gets the cardio-respiratory system engaged, and gives you an indicator whether you're ready for other activity like biking, jogging, and even swimming. For those of us who train for and compete in events greater than an hour, walking an hour without feeling fatigued is a great test to see if we are ready to resume training.
Having the flu isn't fun but it's part of life. By learning how to manage your health while you are sick will teach you things you can do to manage your health during extended training and racing. This confidence will help you get past those dark moments during training or racing where you think you may want to quit. Just like the doctor's office, quitting is an option, but all it gets you is a pat on the back with "you'll feel better."
Physicians over thousands of years have observed a link between a patient’s mental state and how swiftly they recover. It is a long-standing axiom that people who are determined to get better and maintain a healthy frame of mind recover more quickly, with better results.
But what if we told you that it’s a two-way street? That specific health conditions can cause conditions like depression and anxiety?
In 1931, decades before the first antidepressant and antianxiety medications had been developed, a physician named Yaskin discovered that clinical depression is the earliest manifestation of pancreatic cancer. Further research demonstrated that patients who suffered from gastrointestinal malignancies carried the greatest risk of suicide – which was one of the first science-based flags indicating that the digestive system can have an impact on mental health.
The simplest way to reduce toxins in your body is to avoid them. Despite today’s crazy world that has toxins everywhere, there are steps you can take that will reduce your toxin intake. This gives your body a chance to get rid of the “backlog” and catch up.
Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, has been used for centuries as a natural herbal remedy for those who fall ill.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, referred to elderberry as “nature’s medicine chest,” and it has been noted as early as the 5th century BC as a medicinal tonic – forever cementing it as a staple in human nutrition.
But, it wasn’t until recently that we understood WHY it is so helpful to the body. And with this understanding came advanced methods of harnessing the incredible power of this medicinal plant.