“When helping a patient, I focus on her worst symptom first.”
COLLEEN BRADY IS A PHARMACIST AND REGULAR LECTURER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA IN VANCOUVER.
The flu will last about 10 days, no matter what you do, but over-the-counter medications have been proven to help you feel better, says pharmacist Colleen Brady.
For a fever, aside from drinking extra fluids, she recommends acetaminophen, which works directly on the heat-regulating centre of your brain to help relieve aches. Her favourite remedy for a dry cough is a syrup product with dextromethorphan, which suppresses coughing. To treat nausea, start with non-drug measures, such as eating small meals and eating bland foods like toast, rice or crackers. If that doesn’t help, try anti-nausea medications like Gravol.
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If you have severe vomiting or diarrhea, ask your pharmacist for an electrolyte replacement to replenish the minerals that keep you hydrated. To treat more than one symptom, take separate medications that address each symptom individually.
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“The first thing you need to do is drink lots of fluids.”
ROSIE SCHWARTZ IS A REGISTERED DIETITIAN PRACTICING IN TORONTO.
This staves off dehydration, which is a big risk when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, says dietitian Rosie Schwartz. It will also keep your mucous membranes well hydrated, which helps relieve nasal or respiratory symptoms. Try to eat small amounts of food regularly if you don’t have a fever or gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting because an empty stomach can make you nauseous more easily. If you can, have something with a bit of protein, like chicken soup – it will keep your blood sugar levels stable and preserve your muscles.
If you’re throwing up, soup can help prevent an electrolyte imbalance because it contains sodium. You could also try drinking some diluted juice with a bit of salt added. Research has shown that although vitamin C won’t prevent the flu, it can help minimize symptoms. Try a glass of OJ instead of pills — it’s easier on the stomach.
The traditional chinese medicine (tcm) practitioner
“TCM looks beyond your flu symptoms.”
STEPHANIE CURRAN IS A TCM PRACTITIONER AND THE DIRECTOR OF THE ELEMENTS OF HEALTH CENTRE IN VANCOUVER.
It’s searching for what else is happening in your body and immune system that could have caused the illness, says Stephanie Curran, a TCM practitioner. During a session with a patient, she asks a lot of questions before deciding on a treatment, which usually includes a customized blend of powdered herbs that patients can take home and make into a tea.
For the flu, she uses sweat-inducing herbs because they disperse the pathogens that are causing the sickness — in Western terms, these herbs have an anti-viral or anti-bacterial effect. Fresh ginger, grated into tea or soup, can help calm the stomach and intestines. For a cough, put some fresh mint leaves in a bowl of hot water, place a towel over your head and inhale.