It’s that time of year when temperatures drop and runny noses become the norm. It seems that no matter how many times we wash our hands or try to avoid our sick co-workers, we still end up with a cold or the flu.
Aside from having to miss a few days of work, however, getting sick is not necessarily a bad thing.
It’s commonly believed that getting sick is a sign of weakness and ill health, but actually, the opposite is true.
I believe that individuals who get sick once or twice a year actually have healthier immune systems than individuals who go for long periods of time without getting sick. You see, your immune system is naturally designed to surveil and look for bacteria, viruses, and toxins – anything that enters your body and shouldn’t be there.
The immune system’s response to these toxins is actually how we end up with symptoms of illness, so when exposed to a virus we may experience fever, body aches, or chills. This is a sign that the body is in defense mode, working to get rid of the virus – your immune system activates the lymphatic system which sends out mast cells, these are like little pac men that go out and eat up the virus or bacteria. As a result, we secrete immune cells that increase our body temperature and create inflammation in the body – an environment that keeps bacteria, viruses, and other toxins from thriving.
The rise in body temperature, more commonly known as a fever, is something we’re often encouraged to control or suppress, and while we do want to monitor our temperature when we’re sick, a fever of up to 102 degrees in a healthy adult is not a cause for concern. It is a natural immune system response and a sign of healthy immune cells.
If the fever lasts for more than a few days or rises higher than 103 degrees, reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss next steps. Otherwise, avoid fever-reducing medications or painkillers. These types of medications inhibit the body’s natural ability to properly break down toxins so they don’t damage our DNA and cause chronic illness, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders in the future.
Having a cold or the flu may not feel good, but it is good for you.
As we are exposed to viruses and bacteria during the winter months, getting sick actually trains the body to know what to do, now and in the future. Instead, of trying to rush the process along with over the counter medications, take the time to honor your body – nourish it, instead of fighting it.
Look at your immune system as a beautifully designed mechanism that knows what to do when illness arises, and look at the symptoms as a sign that it’s time to give your body a little more care and attention – nourish yourself, rest, hydrate, slow down, and allow your body the time it needs to reset and heal.