The Flu - Diet and Exercise
Diet And Exercise With Influenza
Since flu commonly takes away the appetite, most patients won’t be hungry. Eating is not as important as drinking fluids because the patient will be breaking down muscle and fat for energy. The clear liquid diet is best for patients sick with flu who are not particularly hungry, but it is mandatory for patients with diarrhea due to influenza. If a flu patient wants to eat, feed them as long as they don’t have diarrhea. In most cases, patients with diarrhea can tolerate a clear liquid diet without making matters worse. The small intestine can absorb water, minerals, and sugars well even when infected. If the patient has not been sick long or had a mild non-diarrhea presentation of the flu, you can start with step 2 of the clear liquid diet and quickly move up the steps as tolerated by the patient. At any time during re-feeding, should the patient suffer abdominal problems, especially pain or diarrhea, drop back a step or two on the clear liquid diet. Rest in that step for a while before trying the next step again. This strategy will work well for almost every patient.
The Clear Liquid Diet
Step 1: Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), water, fruit juice, Jell-O, Gatorade®, Popsicles, PowerAde®, ginger ale, cola, tea, and bouillon.
Step 2: To step 1 add white toast (no butter or oils), white rice, cream of wheat, soda crackers, and potatoes without the skin.
Step 3: To Step 2 add canned fruit and chicken noodle soup.
Step 4: To Step 3 add a source of protein like canned meat, fish or egg.
Step 5: To Step 4 add milk and other dairy products, vegetable oils, butter, raw fruits and vegetables and high-fiber whole grain products.
Once the patient is eating a normal diet without any stomach problems, it is important to increase the intake of high quality protein, especially eggs, meat, fish, or poultry. This nutrition is needed to rebuild the muscle and organ tissue, which were broken down for energy during the illness.
Carbohydrates and fats are also important as an energy source for the recovering body and to help replace lost fat stores broken down for energy during the infection. Even moderate influenza causes a breakdown of muscle tissue and physical weakness. If a patient was critically ill with the flu, even more muscle, organ tissue, and fat was broken down by the body for support.
Exercise After Influenza Acute influenza symptoms can be expected to last at least five days but usually seven to 10 days. A return to limited normal activities is usually possible at this time, but full recovery will not be complete for a month, or even two, after the infection. Of course, no exercise of any type is possible or desirable during the acute phase of the illness. During the recovery period, passive stretching and massage helps a weakened patient recover. These activities help bring the dormant joints, tendons, and muscles back to life and work out the soreness that builds up in these tissues. Gentle passive range of motion (ROM) exercise is accomplished by slowly and repeatedly moving all the joints of the limbs, including fingers and toes, through their entire normal range of movement. Each finger and toe, ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and the neck should be bent, rotated, and extended slowly and repeatedly.
Gentle massage is also comforting to the patient’s sore muscles and helps in their recovery. Patients who have been at bed rest for a long time will have trouble with balance and weakness. If they have not been eating, they will not have enough energy to resume normal activity.
A prerequisite for getting up is to get the patient past step 3 of the clear liquid diet before even trying to encourage the patient to walk again When the time comes to help a patient return to normal, take it easy. Try sitting the patient upright in bed first. If this goes well, the patient can next try sitting on the side of the bed with his feet on the floor. Dizziness and weakness are the two problems that most people have trouble overcoming.
Take it slowly. Dizziness usually goes away after a while in the new position, so be patient. The next step is to get the patient up and sitting in a chair. Standing with limited assisted walking comes next. At first, have the patient walk with assistance around the home.