The Flu Season – Make Sure You’re Prepared!
We are now full swing into the flu season and as such many people have been getting sick and seeking treatment, both natural and conventional. For the general public, making informed decisions about whether or not to get the flu vaccine and other ways to stay healthy is proving to be challenging and daunting.
To help shed light and eliminate the confusion, here is a summary of the most current and up-to-date information. It is believed that the best prevention is maintaining good health and doing your part to stop the spread of infection. The following information also includes ways to prevent the risk of infection and ways that you can boost your immunity naturally whether you decide to, or not to be vaccinated.
High Risk Populations
- Those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or bronchitis have a 5 times greater risk of contracting the influenza virus and having more severe symptoms.
- Pregnant women in their 3rd trimester.
- Children under 2 years of age. This age group has the highest rate of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission and ventilation rates of all risk groups.
How can you tell if you have the Flu or Just a Regular Cold?
While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel more severely ill for a few days to a few weeks. Refer to the chart below for the differences between cold and flu symptoms.
|Fever is rare with a cold.
Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100 degrees F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.
|A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.
A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).
|Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
|Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.
|Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
|Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.
|Chills are uncommon with a cold.
|60% of people who have the flu experience chills.
|Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
|Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.
|Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
|Sneezing is not common with the flu.
|Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
|The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
|A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.
|A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.
|Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
|Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are fairly uncommon with a cold.
|Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes present in flu.
|Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
|Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.
The progression of cold and flu viruses also differ
- Begins with a sore throat.
- Runny nose and congestion follow.
- Cough by the 4th to 5th day.
- Nasal secretions usually start out as clear and then turn thicker closer to the end of the infection.
- Comes on quickly and is more severe.
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and soreness
- Congestion and cough
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone by health Canada, but the following populations should especially consider getting it
- People under 65 years of age with chronic conditions (such as asthma).
- Children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.
- Healthcare providers as they are in contact with large amounts of people, including those who may not have a strong immune system.
- Pregnant women.
- Note: Infants younger than 6 months of age are too young to get the seasonal flu vaccines.
Ingredients Found in the Flu Vaccination for the General Population
(Derived from: Health Canada)
- Thimerosal (Thimerosal acts as a preservative and is in the amount of 2.5 micrograms organic mercury)
- Egg protein
Note: Pregnant women receive a different form of the vaccine. It does not contain the ingredient, Adjuvant, which is a substance added to some vaccines to stimulate the immune system so that not as much of the actual killed or weakened virus has to be used to achieve the same response. Without Adjuvant, pregnant women receive 2 vaccinations to ensure they are protected against the virus. This in turn results in twice the amount of thimerosal/mercury exposure. Health Canada reports however that this is a safe amount for pregnant women.
Flu Prevention Tips
If you decide against getting the flu vaccine, do not fret because there are many measures you can take to prevent becoming infected with it.
The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. Although it is easy to come into contact with the influenza virus, in order to prevent its progression, some very simple steps can be practiced:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Frequent hand-washing.
- Take the “Hands-off-the-Face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of your face without washing your hands thoroughly first.
- Gargle twice a day with warm salt water.
- Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, or hydrogen peroxide. A Netti-pot or a Sinus rinse is also extremely effective.
- Eat healthy and get your nutrients naturally whenever possible. Foods that are rich in vitamin C and vitamin D are highly desirable for boosting your immunity. Vitamin C rich foods include colourful berries, oranges and peppers. Vitamin D is best obtained from natural sunlight, but once daylight savings rolls around, most people start to get less. For this reason you may wish to inquire about supplements.
- Take Supplements. Check with your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare practitioner on the ways you can boost your immunity with vitamins and herbal extracts. No one person is the same so recommendations and dosages may vary. Like food, vitamin C and vitamin D supplements are widely used for boosting immunity.
- Drink as much warm liquids as you can. Herbal teas such as Echinacea or Astragalus are ideal for helping keep your immunity strong.
- Consider getting an immune booster drinkable ampoule with a trained naturopathic doctor. This is a sterile homeopathic solution that supports the immune system but does not contain any heavy metals or other preservatives.
Whatever your decision about getting the flu vaccine – for yourself or your family – get as much information as possible and make your choice an informed one! Stay healthy and be well!
For more personalized information and tips on how you can boost your immune system, call us at Kleinburg Integrative Health, 905-893-2898 and book your appointment. We are open and have naturopathic doctors available to see you for an appointment every Monday – Saturday.
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