What is the first thing you do when you get a cold or flu? Most people’s first instinct is to open their medicine cabinet and take an antipyretic such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Did you ever notice that the more medicine that you take, the longer it takes for the immune system to fight off a virus? In this week’s blog we are going discuss what the immune system is, explain the goal of drugs during a viral episode, and analyze what can be done better to fight off a virus.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and molecules that work together to defend the body against harmful invaders such as pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Its primary function is to recognize and eliminate these foreign entities while distinguishing them from the body’s own cells and tissues. A properly functioning immune system is crucial for maintaining overall health and preventing infections, such as the flu.
The immune system is so complex that it would take several blogs to explain everything. In this blog, we are going to focus on the immune system from a chiropractic perspective. We will be focusing on the common cold or flu. Chiropractors can treat a large variety of conditions, but we also realize that some conditions such as severe infections are beyond our scope of practice and patients need to seek medical attention.
What is the Purpose of Taking Medications?
When drugs are consumed, the goal is for the medicine to restore the body. When a drug is ingested, it travels through the bloodstream and is broken down and metabolized in the liver so the medicine can be dispersed to the affected regions. Over time, with several doses, the medicine starts to take effect, and the patient should see positive improvement.
Is There Something Better Than Taking Medicine?
In many circumstances, such as a severe infection or fatal disease, taking medicine is necessary; however, is taking medicine for a cold or flu the best option for relief? When a patient is sick, the body goes into defense mode using blood proteins called antibodies. Antibodies work to destroy disease-causing organisms and block them from infecting human cells. When antibodies finish the job, the body builds an immunity to that virus, meaning, you can never get that strain again. Now, why is it that when we build immunity to a virus that we still get colds and the flu? There are millions of viral flu strains that inflict have the same symptoms, so when you get sick, it’s not the exact virus you previously had.
As much as we all hate getting sick, antibodies do a great job fighting viruses and building immunity. Taking medicine delays this entire process from happening. The average adult will take two tablets of an antipyretic every 4 to 6 hours for at least the first 24 hours. One adult tablet typically ranges from 325mg-500mg.
The most common symptom of the common cold or flu is a mild to moderate fever. An antipyretic’s main goal is reducing a fever. All freeze the immune system, which temporarily will reduce the fever. Once the medicine has worn off, the immune system resumes, and the fever will likely return. So, the medicine prolongs the virus and patients are sick longer than anticipated. A fever is a normal response when sick and it’s best to let the body run its course.
What can be done better to fight off a cold or virus? There are a few simple home remedies that will get patients better faster than taking medicine. Two of the most important steps to take when you’re sick are to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water. Overworking the body is a common reason why the immune system becomes suppressed. It’s the body’s way of saying you have done too much, and now it’s time to rest. When we get sick, toxins and viral components are being excreted through sweat, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, urine, and fecal matter. These toxins cause the body to become dehydrated and must be replenished by drinking plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water allows the body to be flushed out and cleanse the body of viruses.
Another great solution is taking supplements of Vitamin C, D, and zinc. Supplements are not drugs, but rather a natural remedy. Vitamins C and D are found in foods such as citric foods, peppers, dark green vegetables, fish, eggs, and milk. Zinc is the best mineral for the immune system, and its best source of food is oysters. Oysters are an acquired taste and not many people like to eat them leisurely let alone when they are sick. A common symptom of a cold or virus is loss of appetite. That is why taking supplements is a good source to use when you’re sick.
There are other home remedies that people have successfully used since the beginning of mankind. The options are endless, but one proven theory that we want to discuss Is chiropractic care.
Think about it for a second. How does the immune system work? It functions because the nervous system controls it. What happens when nerve interference is present? The body begins to malfunction in the region of interference leading to an impaired immune system. Studies show that getting regularly adjusted while sick restores the immune system quicker and more efficient than someone who took medicine.
Is the power of spinal manipulation alone enough to restore the immune system quickly and efficiently? No. Still include the home remedies that we previously discussed for optimal effects. Next time you get sick, give our recommendations a try and see if you benefitted more from taking a natural approach over a medical approach.
For more information or questions about the immune system, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC