Before you call me Dr. Killjoy for talking about the flu when it’s technically still summer, please hear me out. Instead of ignoring the flu until the winter months when someone we know gets sick, we can start taking steps now to enhance the body’s immune function and help us fight off the flu.
But first, how well do you understand influenza, more commonly known as the flu? Did you know…
(Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Yes, the flu can really knock us for a loop. The flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus, with symptoms that typically include headaches, chills, dry cough, body aches, fever, stuffy nose, sore throat and extreme exhaustion.
If the flu infects you, you’ll usually feel symptoms for one to four days. However, you can spread the flu to others before your symptoms start and for three or four days after your symptoms appear. Make sure you get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and talk to your doctor about taking over the counter medication. Just make sure you don’t give aspirin to children or adolescents, and antibiotics won’t work on a virus, so don’t bother.
How can we reduce our chances of getting the flu?
Consider a vaccination. Getting a flu vaccination is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your doctor. Each year, scientists develop new flu vaccines based on the strains of flu viruses that are in circulation at the time. Sometimes a new strain may appear after the vaccine has been made and distributed to healthcare providers and clinics. Because there are hundreds of flu strains, it’s important to understand that a vaccination doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu.
Also, viruses for producing the vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, so a vaccine may contain egg protein that can cause an allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to eggs or have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine, consult with your doctor before getting vaccinated.
Stay clean. Coughing and sneezing spread viruses at 100 miles per hour. You can catch the flu by simply touching a phone, doorknob or countertop that’s contaminated. Wash your hands frequently, try to avoid crowded work environments, and make sure the air in your home and workplace is being properly circulated.
Take the right supplements. Supplements recommended for fighting the flu include vitamin C, vitamin A plus beta-carotene, zinc gluconate lozenges, garlic capsules, vitamin B complex in a multivitamin complex, protein in the form of free-form amino acids, and Immucore by Metagenics, a mushroom herbal supplement. Capsules are usually more effective than solids. Make sure you check with your doctor for proper dosage.
Reduce sugar intake. Most people aren’t aware that sugar suppresses the immune system and lowers resistance. In addition to being the leading cause of obesity and other chronic health issues, sugar hampers your ability to fight off flu infections.
Make smart health decisions. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, avoiding stressful situations, moderate exercise, daily hygiene and a positive mental attitude all contribute to your general good health.
Yes, the flu is coming, and taking back our health as it relates to the flu is about more than getting a shot. Our daily activities and nutritional habits play a much greater role in our immune defenses and overall well-being. This is the year of the family, so let’s make sure we’re doing everything we can to avoid and fight off the flu, and enjoy as many sick-free days as possible each and every year.
What steps are you taking to avoid the flu?
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.