Colds and flu

Updated 28 September 2017

Flu: let your body fight back

It’s tempting to think that there’s a pill or a potion for everything, but the best defence against a virus like influenza is still a strong immune system; CyberDoc advises on flu.

It’s tempting to think that there’s a pill or a potion for everything, but the best defence against a virus like influenza is still a strong immune system; and giving it time off to fight. CyberDoc advises on flu.

Q:  Flu & exercise

How soon can one exercise after flu? I've only just finished a course of antibiotics and still have blocked sinuses, but otherwise feel ok. I want to get back into my exercise routines as quickly as possible.

Expert:  You can only start exercise after all the flu symptoms have disappeared, especially fever and a fast resting heart rate. If exercise is resumed before all the symptoms are gone, you will run a risk of developing viral myocarditis, which in turn can cause severe heart failure. Rather be patient.

Q:  Flu like symptoms remaining for +7 days

I have had fatigue and light flu-like symptoms for the last 7 days. No improvement, but no worsening of symptoms either. I struggle to wake up in the mornings, my eyes feel puffy and swollen and watery at times. I get a 7-8 hours’ sleep but, on waking, it still feels like I haven’t rested.

I have a sore throat and a stuffy chest, with some phlegm build- up and a scratchy, dry cough; also some muscle fatigue, especially in my lower back.

I’m experiencing slight light-headedness at times, and have lost my appetite to some extent, and even an hour after meals I get the empty-stomach feeling. Heartburn is also more prevalent. Can this be a virus?

Expert: Yes, it most definitely can be due to a viral infection. You should get a lot of bed-rest and drink a lot of fluids. Viral infections can take up to 14 days to clear. For the heartburn, you can take Gaviscon, three times daily before meals. If the heartburn doesn’t subside and worsens, you should consult your doctor for a gastroscopy, as a peptic ulcer can be responsible for the chronic fatigue.

Q: Flu and Sinus and Chest congestion

I need some advice with regards to flu and specifically the sinus and chest congestion brought on by it. Generally I treat the flu before it takes hold, but I caught my most recent bout of flu just too late. That means no sleep, and very difficult breathing till the sinus part is cleared up again.

However, flu is not the problem here: even after the flu has gone that the sinus congestion and heavy chest remain. I don't like consuming meds by the ton, so I would like to know what are my alternatives, where can I get hold of remedies, and some general info with regard to remedies?

It should be noted that I was born with Chronic Asthma. I don’t have to use medication for it anymore long story, but when sinusitis sets in, I still suffer from time to time. I also have a postnasal drip.

Expert: There is no cure for the flu. The only accepted remedy is strict bed-rest, as well as hydration with clear oral fluids. If you have asthma, you are at risk for a lower respiratory tract infection. I therefore, suggest that you consult your doctor for an examination to exclude the development of a secondary bacterial infection of the lower respiratory tract.

If you do suffer from sinusitis, you can ask your doctor for treatment if a secondary bacterial infection has developed. It will be worthwhile to investigate if you are suffering from chronic allergic rhinitis.

More info:

Flu myths and facts


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Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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