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Chapter 4 – Frequently Asked Questions
Chances are high you still have some questions about your health and immune system. We will do our best to cover each of these in this section. If you still have questions that remain a puzzle, be sure to contact your healthcare provider so he or she can help you overcome whatever illness you struggle with.
This list contains some of the more commonly asked questions about immunity, sleep, stress and well-being.
Q. Can I exercise while sick?
A. Most people can engage in light exercise if they have a minor cold or feel only slightly ill. Be sure, however, if you do this to exercise very minimally. That means you can do with a walk around the park. You don’t want to overdo it because this can cause you to feel sicker. You can sometimes help your body recover faster if you get a little exercise with a cold. If you are really sick however, and have a temperature above 99 degrees, you should call your doctor before trying to exercise. He or she will probably recommend you first rest and then try to exercise once you start feeling better.
Q. I have a compromised immune system. What can I do to stay healthy?
A. Many people suffer from compromised immune systems. Often the culprit is an autoimmune disease. This is a class of diseases where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue instead of disease. This naturally causes fatigue. Certain medicines used to treat autoimmune disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may contribute to your susceptibility to illness. The best steps you can take are washing your hands frequently, encouraging others to do the same, using or carrying around a small bottle of sanitizer for your hands, and getting plenty of sleep so you can fight an infection if you happen to develop one.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, your doctor or rheumatologist may recommend you participate in continuous physical therapy which often can help your body recover and resist chronic illness. Be sure you cover your nose and mouth if needed when traveling to areas with large crowds or pollution. Having an autoimmune disorder is much like having an immature immune system (like a child has) or an immune system that is tired and overworked (as is sometimes the case with elderly patients).
Don’t give up however. You can fight disease and feel better with time and good hygiene!
Q. There are so many different recommendations for taking vitamin C. Some say you should take up to 4 grams each day. Won’t this make you sick?
A. Unfortunately there is much in the way of conflicting advice when it comes to caring for your body. The same is true of taking vitamin C. There are healthcare providers that swear you can take high doses of vitamin C to cure just about anything, from cold sores to cancer. Others suggest only a modest intake of vitamin C is worthwhile to the body.
Who do you listen to? You should always head the advice of your primary healthcare provider, someone you should trust, and your body. If you are taking too much vitamin C there is a good chance you will develop diarrhea. Your body usually takes as much vitamin C as it needs and expels the rest. Most people get plenty of vitamin C by eating fresh fruits and drinking fortified orange juice. When in doubt, less is probably best. Remember every body is different, so your body may react to vitamin C much quicker or slower than another person’s body. Make sure you take time out to listen to your body.
Q. Is Echinacea really helpful for boosting immunity? I heard it is just a waste of time and money.
A. Great question! The use of Echinacea is quite controversial. There are many people that swear by its healing powers. There are studies that show it may help shorten the duration of a cold or other virus. As with any study however, there are an equal number that suggest Echinacea is no more beneficial than a placebo. This is likely because different people respond differently to any medication. Ask your doctor if you can try it. You usually need to take it at the first hint of a cold. It does not help to take it daily, because it loses its effectiveness after using it continuously for more than a month or so. Keep this in mind.
Q. Can I continue taking my supplements while ill?
A. If your doctor prescribes medication for you regularly, or while you are ill, you may need to stop your supplements until you finish your course of therapy. While there are many herbs that safely combine with prescription and over-the-counter medications, many do not. Ask a trained herbalist or medical doctor to help you decide whether it is safe to take the medications you normally take with the supplements or herbs you have. Remember, herbs are medicines too; they are just natural medicines, the type that come from the ground. They should be treated with the same care as you would any prescription medicine. If you notice any side effects from an herb or supplement you take, be sure you report these to your doctor immediately; you may have to switch medications or stop taking a supplement.