It was said that our body answer to infection is best at corporal temperature around 38 c / 100.5 F but now…
During exercise, the body also releases stress hormones, including cortisol, which can negatively affect the function of the white blood cells that help with immunity, he says. And that’s why going to work is a bad idea. “People who are under a tremendous amount of stress can’t attack the disease as well.
Dr. Neides doesn’t suggest patients with a bad cold or flu lie prone all day. Rather, he wants them to be as still as possible in a comfortable position. “One of the many reasons we recommend ‘bed rest’ is because when you’re lying down, the blood flow doesn’t have to work against gravity,” he adds. “But any position where you are calm and inactive is fine.”
That could mean reclining in an overstuffed chair, and not necessarily the actual bed, he adds. Sitting upright, though, can make dehydrated flu-sufferers dizzy or lightheaded, and can result in nausea, feeling worse or even falling over.
“If you have a fever, you are perspiring and giving off energy. That makes it easier to get dehydrated,” he says.
Doctors typically recommend flu patients on bed rest increase activity from nothing to some as the body tolerates it, says Dr. Neides. Once a fever has subsided and a person doesn’t feel lightheaded or dizzy when standing, a little activity can be added gradually.
“One thing I tell patients is, for every one day you’re down with an infection, it takes three days to recover,” Dr. Neides adds. “So if you’re out of commission for two weeks, it will take six weeks to truly get back to your baseline level of energy.”
Ways to get back to health include minimizing exposure, staying nutritionally well-balanced and hydrated, and not exacerbating the illness by attempting to maintain normal activity. All that leads back to staying home and doing very little.
“Whatever the organism is—bacterial, viral—it does demand energy from your body,” says Dr. Neides. “Bed rest can mean a range of things, but what we really want is for you to rest and to stay away from other people. It’s a public health issue. When I tell you ‘no exposure,’ I mean it.”
There are rare instances when a bed-rest recommendation means actually staying in bed all day. “If a doctor is concerned about preterm labor, bed rest means you cannot stand up more than several minutes every hour because the risk of inducing contractions would increase,” says the family medicine practitioner.
“Another example of prone bed rest would be after retinal-detachment surgery, when a gas bubble is injected into the back of the eye, like a pressure bandage. You have to be face down for about three weeks and you can stand maybe five minutes every two to three hours.”