Cold and flu survival guide

It’s that time of year, mamas. The time when we head to the chemist and hand over all of our money...

It’s that time of year, mamas. The time when we head to the chemist and hand over all of our money.

Anyone with kids in daycare or at school knows that it’s only a matter of time before someone in the house gets the sniffles.

And then it begins.

The season of misery when you're sick but you don't have time to recover because you're obliged to look after a bunch of other sick people.

So rather than waiting idly by while the germs gather their weapons, here’s a quick guide to some of the things you can do to prepare for cold and 'flu season, according to Steve the Pharmacist at Camden South Pharmacy.

Before everyone gets sick

Armaforce: Highly recommended to boost your immune system. The magic ingredients are andrographis, olive leaf and echinacea. This is the only natural remedy that Steve wholeheartedly recommends. Not suitable for children under 12.

Hand washing: Enforce it. As an aside, Steve says to avoid using antibacterial gel. Why? Because it kills good bacteria, as well as the bad stuff. The way Steve describes is that it's like a Kikuyu lawn (with Kikuyu representing colonising good bacteria). It's hard for weeds to get a foothold when the Kikuyu is healthy and abundant - it's too dense to get through. Antibacterial gels kill all bacteria, including the good stuff, making way for nasty stuff to get in.

Vaporisers: They keep your airways moist which helps mucus flow effectively, clearing away any invading bacteria.

Probiotics: The ones from in the fridge. They have them for kids now. Strong gut flora = strong immunity.

Cut the crap: Avoid eating too much sugar or greasy food, and minimise alcohol, coffee and soft drink consumption. What is good for your gut is good for your immune system.

Once everyone gets sick

Lemon, honey, ginger and apple cider vinegar: Boil it up, add it to hot water and glug it with abandon.

Garlic and chilli: Add them to everything. And hey, you probably can’t taste anything so go nuts.

Supplies of tissues: The ones with aloe vera.

Supplies of chicken stock: To make soup.

Panadol: Liquid for the kids and tablets for adults. One thing to note is that Ibuprofen should be avoided as it can make your cough worse.

Cough medicine for adults and children: To slow down the coughing.

Cold and flu meds: The good ones from the behind the counter (but be aware some people react to the pseudoephedrine in them so also grab some regular cold and 'flu tabs like Dimetapp, just in case). Obviously not suitable for kids.

Nasal sprays with steroids: The ones with steroids work better.

Frozen soups and stews: For when you’re too tired and sick to cook.

Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil: To do steam inhalations with.

Chapstick: For your ‘I can only breathe through my mouth’ lips.

Should you get antibiotics?

When I was researching this topic, I found a Harvard Medical Journal article where a young mum with a sinus infection presented with green pus coming out of her tear duct.

Ladies, do not leave it that long.

This is the criteria for antibiotics:

- You have been sick for 7 - 10 days and you’re not seeing any signs of improvement

- You started getting better but then you suddenly got worse again (this is called ‘double-worsening’)

- You have a secondary infection such as a sinus infection

Fun fact

The reason you need to finish the whole course of antibiotics is so they kill off that strain of bacteria in your body. If you don’t complete the course and some bacteria remain, those clever little gremlins hang around and figure out how to become antibiotic resistant (after all, they are the ‘fittest’ in terms of survival).

If you infect someone with this new antibiotic resistant bacteria, they can’t be treated with the antibiotics that cured you. This is why the medical profession consistently freaks out about people not finishing their antibiotics - because it’s a major public health risk.

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