Escaping the flu, how to achieve this? Escaping the flu, how to achieve this?

Good hydration and adequate nutrition are key for curing the symptoms.

Advisors Julián Hurtado – MD, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Óscar Barón – Pediatrician Pulmonologist

Along the most strenuous peaks of climate in winter and due to the strong changes in temperature a greater number of consultations arise referring to the common flu prone to complications if not treated on time.

According to Medical Doctor Julián Hurtado, “The secret for preventing the common flu from having greater consequences is having good defenses. This is done by taking abundant amounts of water – between 10 to 12 glasses a day – exercising to activate your circulation, a diet rich in dried fruit such as nuts, hazelnuts and almonds, as well as good sleep hygiene, intake of iron found in red meats, seafood, blood sausage and green vegetables.”

Recent numbers from the Ministry of Health of Colombia, confirm that, between April and May 2019, about 250,000 cases of respiratory problems presented associated to fever, nasal congestion, irritation in the nose, ear ache and throat ache, especially in patients between 0 and 7 years of age.

Other indicators show that only one of each ten flus present complications and require emergency treatment; from these only 3 to 4 % required hospitalization due to infections such as pneumonia, severe respiratory difficulty requiring oxygen due to low saturation. “Among the factors most associated with this pathology are environmental contamination, smoke from any source such as cigarettes, exposure to dust and the cold.  In fact, children suffering from respiratory allergies (asthma or rhinitis), with a low nutritional state, absence of vaccine against influenza or who are attending school and sharing their space with other minors, are the most likely to worsen their condition to the point of requiring medical intervention of greater impact,” Pediatrician Pulmonologist from the Pulmonology Foundation of Colombia Oscar Baron warns us.

Preventing is better than curing

A balanced diet is the secret to escaping the flu. Recommended for children is adequate nutrition rich in zinc and vitamin C, through intake of fruit such as oranges, kiwi, lemon and tangerine as well as vegetable juice, chicken broth, garlic and maintaining good hydration. He advises adults to take foods rich in Vitamins A and B such as milk, cheese, carrots, spinach, fish, chicken, turkey, egg yolk and salmon. Protein is also essential. “Eating and hydrating well will always be a guarantee that serves in helping to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of the flu, and even reduce the time it lasts or preventing it from becoming a permanent discomfort,” Hurtado added.

In case symptoms associated to this illness present, such as fever over 38 degrees, shivers, general discomfort, dry coughing, throat ache, congested or blocked nose and fatigue among others, it is important to keep children hydrated and covered as well as cleaning their nose with physiological serum at least twice a day and not exposing them to dust or smoke filled spaces.

In relation to adults, it is important to avoid exposure to strong wind currents, sudden changes in temperature, cold beverages and smoking, among others.

If you suffer from heart disease, vaccines to avoid influenza may reduce the risk of complications related to the flu, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Beware self-medication

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90 % of colds are of viral and not bacterial origin, that is to say that they must not be treated with antibiotics, even less if they have not be prescribed.

 Resistance to this type of a medicine, such as azithromycin and amoxicillin, used in an irresponsible way for cases of the flu, very rapidly generate resistance. “When a patient really needs an antibiotic, in case of an infection, it will not generate any effect and you will have to administer other more stronger ones that will present with more discomforting symptoms such as abdominal pain associated to gastritis, diarrheas, damage to the liver and kidneys,” explains Dr. Hurtado.

Not recommendable either is administration of decongesting medicines, artificial nasal drops, using inhalers or application of ointments.

Aavoid free intake of antibiotics

Currently in Colombia more people die from inadequate use of antibiotics, mortality rate increasing from this fact in over 30% meaning there are 13% more infections caused by resistant bacteria. Such indicators are disclosed in a report by the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OCED) confirming that resistance to antibiotics could cause 2,4 million deaths in member countries of the OCED up to 2050, Colombia included.

Signal for alert

  •  Flus should not last over a week.
  • Noises in the chest such as whistling, sinking of the ribs, accelerated breathing or arrhythmia, purple color lips, dilated nostrils due to effort, fever of over 38 degrees and lack of appetite for more than 72 hours.
  • These symptoms improve but later return with fever and more intense coughing.


Related: Tips for preventing respiratory infections