As most everyone is aware, we are still in the midst of the cold and flu season. According to the CDC, “The geographic spread of influenza in 25 states was reported as widespread; 16 states reported regional influenza activity; the District of Columbia and four states reported local influenza activity, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and four states reported sporadic influenza activity.”
The most effective methods in the prevention of the spread of cold and flu viruses are:
- Frequent washing of hands
- Keeping hands away from face and mouth
- Avoiding exposure to people with a cold or the flu
- Getting plenty of rest
- Staying away from people if you have a cold or flu
The last one is perhaps the most difficult for gym goers to really get their arms around. How many times have you heard somebody say “I’m just going to sweat this cold out at the club”? Guess what, we don’t want you to do that. We don’t want you to share the bug with everyone else!! This generally isn’t the case when an exercise participant goes down with the flu. Let’s face it most of us who have engaged in battle with influenza have been thankful just to be able to remain in bed.
Here are some treatment recommendations for both influenza as well as the common cold:
- If it affects the nose or sinus, just rinsing with saline that gets the mucus and virus out is a first-line defense.
- Water, water, water! Hydration will help shorten the duration of the common cold.
- There are classes of medicines that can help the flu — Tamiflu and Relenza — antivirals that block viruses' ability to reproduce and shorten the length and severity of the illness. But they have to be taken within 48 hours or it’s too late for effectiveness because by then the virus has done the most of its reproduction.
- For a cold or flu, rest and use decongestants and antihistamines, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, chicken soup and fluids.
- Zinc helps the body's natural defenses work to their natural capacity and decrease the severity and length of a cold. Cells need zinc as a catalyst in their protective processes, so if you supply them with zinc, it helps them work more efficiently. You should also withhold iron supplements. Viruses use iron as part of their reproductive cycle, so depriving them of it blocks their dissemination.
Be thoughtful of everyone during this season-take care of yourself and if you want to sweat something out, do it outside where the germs can blow away instead of in a closed in gym where everybody will be exposed.
2/8/2011 at 2:42 PM