How to survive the flu when you have an autoimmune disease.

by Brittany on February 4, 2013

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The flu is not fun..for ANYONE autoimmune or not. But when you do have an autoimmune disease your immune system may deal with fighting off  a bacterial or viral infection different than the average joe.

Please keep in mind that we are all different and the ways our bodies react will vary from person to person. 

Like nearly everyone else that I know, I got a lovely bout of the flu this past month. When all the sudden my Hashimotos disease came out of remission and all my old symptoms that I thought were a thing of the past came raging could say I had a bit of a meltdown.  I never got the full on flu symptoms- I didn’t get feverish and my nose did not turn into a faucet. Instead I got faint flu symptoms + a really really bad Hashimoto flare up.

I take my health very seriously, and have learned to read my body like a book. Each time I get a negative symptom I can usually trace is back to the cause- be it a stressful day, a meal I ate etc. When out of nowhere this flare up came at me,  I panicked. What was wrong with me? Did I need to get my thyroid levels checked? Had I developed a new health issue? That feeling of not understanding why you are sick can be debilitating. It has a way of quickly taking over my every thought.

I spoke to several doctors and each one confirmed that when you are autoimmune the flu very well may result in a flare up. That is just how our bodies often deal with infection. Our poor confused immune systems feel the need to attack us rather than just the virus. Which can also result in a prolonged period to overcome the virus.

Whatever your bodies weakness, it may default to those symptoms if you catch the flu. In my case since I have hypothyroidism/hashimotos disease my body defaulted to adrenal fatigue/ metabolic syndrome/ a worsening of my candida infection.

So- the question is how do we cope if this happens?

Answer: Reduce as much inflammation as possible to decrease the pain. The following things are extremely effective in helping me do so:

  • Fish oil : will quickly quench a nasty case of inflammation.  I take a few capsules each time I feel an attack coming on.
  • Make sure your vitamin D levels are perfect- when they get low you will become proned to an increase in inflammation.
  • Green Juice: When I’m at my sickest I drink up to 8 cups in one day. A lot..I know. But it really helps. Cucumbers especially quench inflammation. The juice will also help to detox you- which is super important. When autoimmune our bodies tend to freak out if there is a build up of too many toxins. The green juice helps to flush them out.
  • Take your vitamins! Your body needs every big of support it can get.
  • Take extra probiotics! This will help to prevent sinus infections.
  • Decrease sugar & carb intake- this helps to keep my blood sugar issues at bay.
  • If like me you are proned to blood sugar issues eat small meals every 2-3 hours. When your blood sugar starts swinging you will end up with an autoimmune attack. Keep your levels balanced as much as possible.
  • Slow down and rest! Just do it- your body is begging you to do so!
  • If you are battling sinus or cold symptoms avoid dairy, sugar and soy. These three foods support mucus formation.
  • Eat tons of onions and turmeric.  I sometimes cook them together and eat them straight- together they act as a inflammation fighting team.
  • Take Tylenol- but not in excess. I reserve it for the times when I feel crummy but need to be out in public and don’t want to feel like total crap around other people.
  • Take Colloidal Silver. Colloidal will support your immune system as well as help to battle off bacteria and fungal infections.
  • Eat and drink ginger to reduce inflammation. I like to boil it with some lemon juice, water and stevia to make a delicious comforting drink.
  • Follow a gluten free diet. You hopefully are already doing this as gluten can negatively affect pretty much any autoimmune disease. Make sure to also avoid any other problem food that you are sensitive to or allergic to.
  • Acupuncture is worth trying if you have never had it done before.  It can make a world of a difference in balancing out adrenals and blood sugar. Look for a community acupuncture center in your area- they typically only cost between $15-$35 per visit.

Remember, that once the flu passes so should the flare up!

Be good to yourselves, and know that what you are going through is normal.



Ps. You may also find these additional posts helpful

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine February 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Hope you are feeling better. When I get sick, I say I am sick plus. The hardest part, and probably most important, is slowing down and healing.


Brittany February 5, 2013 at 2:28 am

Thanks Katharine! I’m actually over the flu- took me about 2 solid weeks to kick it. Glad to have moved past it!


monika February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

i have graves’ disease (hyperthyroid) and i’m trying to avoid any medications (i just dont like ‘em) so when i’m sick, i do a lot of green smoothies and fruit smoothies. lots of rest as well. and lots of teas like green tea and camomile. anything to help the body fight and not stress it more.

the lemon & ginger warm “tea” is amazing! it tastes delicious and is very comforting.

if i have to, i take some nyquil so i can sleep. other than that, its a Tylenol and only if i’m really suffering.

thanks for the other ideas :)


amy February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Hi Brittany!
Glad to hear you are over the flu! I wish peaceful healing thoughts to all who are battling it now. I had it back in January & it took me down for 2 weeks as well. I have fibromyalgia/asthma/arthritis. I have been following a gluten free diet for 3 months now (and AM DOING MUCH BETTER). Your website has been an inspiration to me. I still drink your green juice every day, even now that I battled my candida overgrowth issues. During the flu I drank lots of your green juice & ginger root tea — it really helped! I think your flu coping advice above is spot on! Keep up the great work! ~Peace, Amy


Courtney S February 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

id really like to make this juice, but dont have a juicer….would it work with a regular blender, that i could then strain?
i am dying from this flu, and cannot eat anything or drink anything other then ginger ale….how do you suggest getting in the fluids or foods when you cant stomach them?


Elizabeth Good February 5, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I really had no idea that AI symptoms could flare up during a bout of flu. That is VERY helpful and informative!
Great suggestions.


Brittany February 5, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Wild huh? Anytime there’s any infection or virus in your body it can set off any AI disease!


Victoria February 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

Hey Brittany,
I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before but I don’t remember. Do you take thyroid medication to manage your levels or have you done it all through food? I have hoshimoto’s, too and have been told I will need to take the meds for life.


Brittany February 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I take armour thyroid! Like you I will probably be on meds for life!


Laurel February 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I had Hashimoto’s, but no longer have any hypo symptoms. I don’t know how it happened exactly, but my thyroid started working again, after about 3 years of hypo. My eyebrows have come back and I’ve got energy, lost weight without trying, etc. I did take Armour for a little while but soon developed hyper symptoms which are horrible! I do still have a goiter that isn’t going away that I can tell. Oh well. I resisted the doctors who wanted to cut it out of me.

We do follow a Weston A. Price type of diet so maybe that had something to do with the healing, but we are not strict about it. Mostly lots of raw milk, raw butter, homemade yogurt, kombucha, grass-fed beef, we have our own chickens for eggs, we eat calves liver, lots of bone broth, and cod liver oil. Just basically try to avoid fake processed foods and stick mostly to what is nutrient-dense.

I got my brother to convert to a WAPF diet and he stopped having his constant colds and infections and he is so happy about this! He used to really suffer year-round with various ailments.

Hope this helps some,


Sarah February 6, 2013 at 6:21 am

thanks for the great info. I haven’t had the flue or even a cold since becoming Type 1. I’m printing off all these ideas. Some will work and some are just too high in carbs for what I can handle. I’ll have to look into green juices, this is a new one for me. Live and learn. So glad your my teacher.
Stay well


Marty February 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

Geesh, acupuncture costs $140/visit here! Insurance pays for it, up to 20 visits per year. Though deductible time of year, gets out off for a while. Swear by it!


Jamie February 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Thank you so much for this information! I was hyperthyroid (Grave’s disease) and then a year ago had to have surgery to remove my thyroid completely due to possible cancer, so now I”m hypothyroid. I had NO idea this could happen during flu/infection etc. but it completely explains how horrible I felt and why it took SO long to recover from this nasty flu! I’ve also gotten more sinus infections and when I do get sick ~ I seem to get “sicker” than ever before! Now I know ways to help that. Thank you so much for sharing!!


Tami Vigil February 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Thank you for this. I have been getting very discouraged. I thought I had my health problems manageable then I got so sick around Christmas & New Years. And still trying to get back to manage level. After reading this I went back upped my treatments.


Riki H September 10, 2013 at 11:32 am

OMG! Thank you for your story!!! I am amazed and inspired! I am still on my journey but can’t wait to get to the end and feel somewhat human. Thanks again.


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