\ Do’s and Don’ts With the Flu | Columbia University Scientists and Engineers for a Better Society

Do’s and Don’ts With the Flu

Achoo!  All of us know the dreaded signs of coming down with the flu: the chills, the tiredness, the getting-run-over-by-a-steamroller feeling that progresses faster than you can say the word influenza. Not to mention the fever that makes you look and act as if you’ve had too much to drink.  Well, since this flu season has been deemed one of the worst in decades, here are some do’s (and don’ts!) to help alleviate nasty flu symptoms:

 1. DO: Eat Chicken Soup



This well-known comfort food touted by mothers’ of all cultures turns out to actually have illness-fighting powers. (Yes, mom won this round.)

In a study by Mount Sinai researchers and in a report by CHEST, the soup helps the function of cilia (little fiber-y looking things in our nose that helps prevent against infections) as well as increase the movement of mucus.

Furthermore, it’s full of wonderful nutrients, warmth, and yummy goodness.

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/the-science-of-chicken-soup/

 2. DON’T: Use antibiotics

There isn’t much to be said aside from the fact that the flu is NOT, I repeat, NOT a bacterial infection. It is a virus: a non-living, cell-hijacking nincompoop that simply wants to mess with you(r cells). Antibiotics are only useful with living bacteria (hence the bio.)


No, this isn’t candy. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antibiotics.html

3. DO: Keep Hydrated with Hot Fluids and Sleep 

This is quite self-explanatory, keeping hydrated loosens the mucus, helps your body regulate its temperature, and facilitates detoxification—flushing out the little suckers from your body.

Some tips with hydration include drinking lots of herbal tea and not drinking caffeinated beverages (caffeine is a slight diuretic a.k.a. something that makes you pee. A lot.)

Source: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/hydration-why-its-so-important.html

Honey, tea, and some rustic charm. http://www.honeyandjam.com/2009/10/my-autumn-in-pictures.html

If you want to be fancy, add honey. Honey, full of antioxidants and warm stickiness, helps with sore throats and coughs. In fact, in a study pitting honey against dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in cough medicines), honey won!

Lastly, sleep helps your body focus all of its energy in the internal war against the flu virus. And who would give up an opportunity to sleep for 12 hours straight along with some naps on the side?

Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/189917-dextromethorphan-vs-honey-for-coughing/

 4. DO: Gargle/Rinse with saltwater

 Salt and water are your new best friends in your war against flu (and cold) symptoms. It removes flu viruses from your throat and nose and has been proven to reduce infections by up to 40% when used three times a day.

To do so, mix a subjective amount of salt in warm (not hot) water. Then, use a bulb syringe to squirt water into one nostril. The water will come out of the other nostril.

For gargling, dissolve a subjective amount of salt in a cup of water and gargle!

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/gargling-with-salt-water-for-colds/


Here’s an envy-inducing picture of the world’s largest reserve of saltwater – the ocean. http://www.kanery.com/

There are many other suggestions to help alleviate symptoms, such as eating vitamin C and staying warm; however, they do not have solid scientific evidence behind them. These old wives tales neither hurt nor help against the pesky flu virus.

Nonetheless, if they provide a placebo effect, by all means, use it!