We get it. You’re busy. You know where the computer passwords are, where the tennis racket is and the whereabouts of the super big plastic storage bags that your daughter needs for gym class. You know where you hid the Cool Ranch Doritos, perfect for a binging evening of Walking Dead, and you know exactly what time to leave for carpool. It’s tough to take a minute for yourself to use the bathroom, much less take a day or two of rest. But we’re here to tell you, as lovingly as we possibly can, “Stop.”
We’ve read a lot about respecting our bodies lately. While most of that is aimed at those infringing on our space, we really need to take to heart self-respect of our bodies. For the most part, we’ve embraced exercise and eating healthy. But part of “being healthy” is knowing when to be sick.
Think of it as your body’s way of declaring a “snow day;” heed the warning because your body needs to take care of some stuff.
In response to viral and bacterial infections – the evil twins that cause most colds and flus — your immune system springs into action. It sends an increased flow of blood to an army of antibodies and white blood cells to rid your body of the foreign invaders. Indeed, many of the symptoms that make a person suffer during an infection — fever, malaise, headache, rash — result from the activities of the immune system trying to eliminate the infection from the body.
And here’s an important fact: Don’t fight the fever. A fever is the immune system’s way to wage war on the twins. Likewise, the muscle aches with fever happen when chemicals released to fight viral and bacterial infections cause inflammation in muscles and joints. However, popping fever reducers at the first sign of a fever – like ibuprofen and aspirin – can hinder the natural process of healing. For most adults (NOT CHILDREN, heed your pediatrician’s advice), a fever of 102 and below for a couple of days means your immune system is doing its job. This is when you need to take to the bed or the couch and rest. Drink lots of fluids. Sleep. Eat light foods easy to digest. Wash your hands. Rinse and repeat. If you’re totally miserable, even resting, do take the fever reducer. But – here’s the key – you should not be taking it just to “tough it out.” It will only prolong your illness, and you may end up sicker with a weaker immune system.
While a fever higher than 104 OR a fever accompanied by other more severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, confusion, seizure or stiff neck requires immediate attention from a medical professional, catching the random illness is really a chance to let your body shine and show off its awesome immune system. And it’s a good chance to catch a Netflix binge day. Seriously. Respect yourself. Take a sick day!