- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Fight the Flu Naturally
Flu season has arrived. It seems like everywhere you go, someone is coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose. You tell yourself its allergies?
Then one morning, you wake up coughing and sneezing. Your muscles ache and your head is spinning.
You may have the flu…
What's the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?
Or could you just have a cold?
Though the symptoms are similar, a cold and the flu are caused by two different viruses. The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by the rhinovirus. Like the flu, which is caused by various influenza viruses, symptoms may include cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, chills, aches, and fatigue.
Flu symptoms tend to be intense and in severe cases can result in pneumonia and hospitalization.
The flu is transmitted through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. You can also become infected if you touch a contaminated object. The flu is contagious before symptoms appear and can continue to be spread for up to a week.
Flu Shots: A Good Idea?
To prevent the flu, a vaccination is often suggested. The CDC recommends everyone over six months should be vaccinated. But as a health care provider, I must disagree.
Let me clarify that I am not against vaccinations. I have been vaccinated against hepatitis B and my daughter receives most of the recommended immunizations. I would rather take the risks associated with a vaccine than her getting measles.
But not so much for the flu.
Flu vaccines do not prevent against all strand of the virus. And there are many different strands circulating each season. Influenza A, B, and C are broken up into various subgroups and to prevent against all of these strands would be difficult. Only a few strands of the virus are selected for immunization. Even if you receive a flu shot, you have a good chance of catching a strand that you were not vaccinated against. This is one reason why even after receiving the flu shot, people still get sick.
And don’t forget that viruses mutate. Even if you receive the right vaccination for the strand that you were exposed to, the virus may have been altered by the time it gets into your body and you still get sick.
For many people the side effects of the flu shot produce the exact same symptoms as the virus itself. This happens because strains of the inactivated virus are injected into your body. Though the symptoms may not be as severe, they can still make you sick.
Some people may feel it is necessary to receive a flu shot. The flu shot can be a good way to prevent any serious conditions, such as pneumonia from occurring. For high-risk populations such as people with weakened immune systems and chronic lung diseases, a flu shot may be the best option. To find out more, ask your health care provider for information regarding what’s best for you.
Basic Recommendations for Preventing the Flu
Here are some basic recommendations to use whether or not you get the vaccine.
Wash your hands. Please. We are not children and it is just plain disgusting when people do not wash their hands. Hands should be washed after using the bathroom, before meals and really any other time they need to be cleaned. It’s not a bad idea to wash your hands after entering your house because you were probably handling car keys, money, gas pumps… Many objects carry germs.
For those who do not know how to perform this procedure, work up a good lather with soap and sing “Happy Birthday” two times. Alcohol can also be used for disinfection.
Cover your mouth if you have to cough or sneeze. Kids in preschool are taught to cough into their elbows. If you do cough into your hands, please wash them.
Try not to touch your mouth or eyes if you are at risk of coming into contact with the flu.
Get plenty of rest so you can stay strong.
Exercise! This will help to boost your energy and immune system. If you do come down with the flu, make sure you rest for a few days.
Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Basic nutrition can help to prevent and treat the flu. Eating a wholesome diet will provide your body with the nourishment it requires to fight the flu and enhance recovery.
Hydration is essential. You may want to drink even more than the usual six to eight ounces of water. Drinking plenty of water will help to keep your electrolytes balanced and help flush the virus from your body. To help give your body an extra cleanse, try adding some fresh-squeezed lemon.
Food may have to be consumed to tolerance, but it is important to keep up your strength. Eating broth is a good way to receive essential nutrients. Try to add some vegetables, beans, or chicken if tolerable. Barley and rice are also good additions. If you must get canned broths, try to use those low in sodium, sugar, and preservatives.
If you can tolerate them, try to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. To improve digestion, cook or steam your vegetables slightly. Because garlic and onions boost immunity and combat bacteria and viruses, add them to your diet.
Certain foods, such as dairy, should be avoided. Milk products create phlegm and can make symptoms worse. They produce excessive mucous and slow digestion. If you are worried about calcium and vitamin D, drink almond, rice, or even soy milk.
Avoid sugar. Bacteria feed off of sugar and though the flu is caused by a virus, a weakened immune system can give bacteria the opportunity to thrive.
Acupuncture is a safe and natural method of preventing and treating the flu. Your body will be more resistant to fighting infections and better able to eliminate any pathogens that are making you sick. If you do contract the flu, you may feel a little worse after your first treatment, but if you receive your follow-up visit in close proximity, you should feel much improvement.t
If you have the flu, you may be more sensitive to needles and their insertion. Your treatment should not use too many needles, and your acupuncturist may use needles which are a little finer than usual.
Ask your acupuncturist about moxabustion and cupping. Moxabustion involves burning the herb mugwart over your body like incense. Moxa will nourish your body and its warmth provides relief over aching muscles. If you do have the flu, smokeless moxa may be preferable.
Cupping is a procedure involving the use of suction cups, either glass or plastic. The suction helps to draw the pathogens out of the body and increases circulation.
Chiropractic care is another way to fight the flu. It stimulates the nervous system, which increases circulation, boosts immunity, and improves health. Osseous adjustments can also help to break up mucous and relieve sore muscles. Your chiropractor may also provide a hot pack or light muscle work.
Don’t forget, your chiropractor is an educated physician and they do possess extensive knowledge on your anatomy and physiology. They simply rely on more natural methods as opposed to drugs to get you feeling better.
In order to fight the flu this season, you do not need to rely on excessive medications. There are so many natural ways to prevent and treat it. Talk with your health care provider about finding the one that’s right for you.
Heating pads can help to soothe sore muscles. Just don't use heat longer than 10 minutes at a time.
This provides moist heat as opposed to dry heat. Ask your health care provider which is more appropriate for you.