Does The Flu Affect Your Memory? Here’s Why You’re Not Remembering Things As Quickly When You’re Sick
We spend most of the year slamming vitamin C for the sole purpose of a strong first defense against, dare I say it, flu season. Enduring a bout of the viral infection comes along with a slew of fairly unpleasant side effects. You might recall not being able to hold anything down and sweating to the point where you're laying in a pond of perspiration (and, it's important to note that you should consult a doctor if you feel short of breath or have a fever of above 103 degrees). But the flu can affect you in more ways just the physical — your memory, too, can be affected by the flu. When struck with any illness, you're obviously in a daze, but there is some research to suggest that your illness could impact your ability to recall information, too.
Whenever I am bedridden courtesy of the pesky flu season, I can't really think about anything other than my current state and when the next bottle of Gatorade will arrive at my bedside. It's hard to even remember if there was ever a time in which I was healthy. Instagram posts are my only reminder that I had once enjoyed food and soaked in the sunlight. To avoid such a sick state, we wash our hands frequently, consume our liquids diligently, and take our multi-vitamins routinely. But alas, one touch of a wrong doorknob can lead down a rabbit hole of the flu.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention marks the official peak season of the flu runs from November through March. An activity map tracks the most recent flu activity across the United States. And, guys? As of Jan. 13, it's widespread. Every state has reported cases of the flu. The viral infection is common, this isn't something to tempt. Keep washing those hands. If you're over 6 months (I assume that you are) you can take it in another line of defense against the illness.
If you can focus while you're sick, challenge yourself to a few rounds of sudoku and exercise that brain. It looks like getting caught with the flu might impact your memory. But it doesn't seem like there are any dangerous lasting affects.
A study reported by the American Psychological Association conducted research on over 100 participants. Cognitive tests were completed when healthy and then when dealing with a cold. The results? Researchers found that, "the participants with colds reported less alertness, more negative moods and sluggish thinking. A second round of tests showed they also had slower reaction times and were slower at learning new information and completing tasks involving verbal reasoning and semantic processing." If you're sick, you're probably not going to be up to learning anything new.
Another study reported by Shape.com concluded that when participants were told to repeat skills they were taught while ill, their performance "suffered when it came to repeating tasks they’d learned while ill." I might not be a doctor, but a word to the wise? If you're feeling sick and those aches are creeping in and sweat is starting to accumulate even though it's 30 degrees outside, give your body a rest. You're not going to be learning anything new anyways.
Cover your mouth and wash your hands like you've never washed your hands before. We're in the middle of prime flu season so it's important to remember to take your vitamins. Otherwise, you might end up sick in bed scrolling through Instagram reminding yourself what it was like to once live a healthy, vivacious, luscious life. If you do end up sick, don't worry. All those things will come back to you. And you'll be healthy again to make a few more lasting memories.