By Dr. Eleonora Naydis
Flu is taking full advantage of its season: it has been officially upgraded to an epidemic level. How much should you worry? Most people, while feeling quite sick for a short while, get over the flu just fine.
Let’s talk about prevention and treatment, preceded by a little disclaimer that this is not a substitute for a medical advice. This is the information that I give to my patients, but also based on the condition of their health, I may ask them to call me in 3 days if their symptoms are very severe and/or they are not improving or are getting worse. If you are pregnant or nursing, taking any prescription medication or other supplements, have any serious allergies, do not self-medicate, please, check in with your doctor.
- Wash your hands, wash your hands, and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your face. My son brought a new rule from school today. (“Every time we touch our faces, we need to go and wash our hands.”) Love their teacher. Thank you, Tara!
- Build yourself a good foundation: this should be your lifestyle!
- Exercise and enjoy your exercise so that you stick to it.
- Healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and whole grains and lean sources of protein. Great immune builders: miso soup with shitake mushrooms, garlic, onions, thyme, ginger spices
- Decrease your sugar intake. Sugar decreases the ability of the white blood cells to fight infection.
- Drink plenty of water
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep suppresses your immune system.
- Manage your stress: while we cannot sometimes change the stress around us, we can change our attitude around it. Take a break when you feel you need it. Your projects will not go anywhere if you take a little time for yourselves.
- Get regular physicals and blood work. Some deficiencies affect your immune system, e.g. iron-deficiency anemia.
- If you are immune-compromised (e.g. during chemotherapy, radiation, or just on immune-suppressive therapy for any reason), avoid over-crowded places for a little while, until the flu season settles down a bit.
- Vaccinations: Can you get sick this year after you had a flu vaccine? Flu vaccines are about 50-70% effective, and the preliminary study from CDC released today shows that this year’s flu vaccine is 62% effective.[i] Some immune-compromised people or people with chronic conditions that put them more at risk for complications may still want to vaccinate. There are other viruses that can make you sick, so don’t just rely on the vaccine to stay healthy this season.
- Hydrotherapy. Consider taking contrast showers: 3 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold, repeat 3 times, finish on cold. You may feel more energy afterwards.
- Supplements: consider immune modulating mushrooms, such as Coriolus, Reishi, Maitake. Fungi Perfecti and Mushroom Science put out good quality supplements.
What if you are sick?
- Stay home and rest. Do not run around. Most of the things CAN wait.
- Depending on your health and symptoms, you may want to call your doctor.
- Fevers are not your enemy; they are actually good for you and increase your immune system ability to fight of infections[ii] Manage your fever, stay hydrated and drink electrolytes.
- Get plenty of sleep and take all the necessary steps so that you can.
- You may want to run a humidifier with few drops of eucalyptus and thyme essential oil in it for anti-microbial effects and to ease breathing.
- Supplements to consider:
- Yin Qiao is a Chinese herbal remedy for wind heat (sore throat, heat)
- Elderberry extract (Sambucol) – actually showed to shorten the duration of the flu.
- Oscillococcinum – great and safe over-the-counter homeopathic remedy.
Stay healthy this season!