This week temperatures in the valley dropped – big time. Whenever the temperature falls, we find ourselves outside more and around people more, with that comes exposure to cold and flu viruses.
Dr. McConnell has put together some educational material aimed at helping you prepare for the cold and flu season, including what you can do if you get ill.
Everything below will be added protection for you and your family against these seasonal viruses.
1) What is actually happening in my body when I get the flu?
When you get the flu or a cold, you have actually contracted a virus. When you get a virus, your body needs antiviral meds to help get rid of it. Therefore, it is not useful to have antibiotics on hand as they are used for bacterial infections. For the most part your body will clear the virus in a matter of days to one week.
Occasionally a viral infection, in some, can develop into a bacterial infection because the immune system has been weakened. Viral infections typically produce clear discharge with possible congestion, but nothing yucky or colored. When the flu or cold doesn’t go away, you may have actually beaten the virus, but now you have an infection that requires antibiotics.
2) Should I still get a flu shot?
Flu shots are safe and their effectiveness will vary from year to year. The Center for Disease Control works hard to identify the current flu strain in order to develop an effective vaccine.
We have never had a flu shot that works 100% of the time and we have never had a flu shot that doesn’t work at all. The vaccine does always provide some level of protection.
If you have ever received the flu shot and then said, “I got sick after I had the shot,” it’s possible you may have already had the flu at the time your vaccine was given or your flu-like symptoms were actually the result of the vaccine stimulating your immune system.
For those bypassing the flu shot, seeing a naturopathic physician can help you prepare your body as much as possible to stay healthy without the vaccine protection.
3) Is October too late to try to prevent getting the flu?
It’s never too late! I always say that getting the flu isn’t about the bug, it is about the terrain; make sure you have a healthy terrain. You can sanitize your hands, sneeze into your elbow and do all the normal things to prevent the spread of germs.
The terrain – your body – is what’s important, not the bug. You can be in a room full of 50 people and three of them can have the flu and are contagious. Everyone that comes in contact with those flu carries doesn’t get the flu because some people are practicing preventative health, so they are in a healthier position to fight the attack of cold and flu bugs.
Start working to improve your own health by making sure you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. This is the basics of preventive medicine.
Be sure to get a lot of Vitamin C and zinc while staying away from sugars – primarily processed sugars – as well as carbs (they turn into sugars) as they will weaken your immune system.
If you do start noticing flu-like symptoms you can take Echinacea. This can help multiply white blood cells, which are critical to recovery. If you’re seeing early signs such as headache and nasal drip, start taking it. It’s a great herb, but it is not to be taken all the time, only when you get sick. For kids, elderberry is great, as it tastes good and usually comes in a syrup. Or you can make it into popsicles to help soothe sore throats. Don’t forget to take your probiotics.
I also recommend using a neti pot to rinse your nose. Here in the office, we really like the Nasopure which is similar to the neti pot but actually allows some added force behind your wash that can prevent secondary sinus infections.
4) Are there naturopathic solutions that are effective for the flu?
Yes, there are. Working with a naturopathic physician to establish a nutrition schedule that strengthens your body and immune system is a great way to avoid getting the flu.
A great naturopathic treatment is IV therapy, where we administer vitamins directly into your bloodstream. This is highly effective for absorption and allows you to get exactly what your body needs without added sugar.
Once you believe you’ve contracted the flu, if you’re a relatively healthy person, there is no reason the flu should be with you more than four to five days. If you’re following healthy practices, you shouldn’t be completely debilitated.
5) Once I get the flu, what can I do to get through it?
Here are some of the naturopathic steps you can take to lessen the impact the cold and flu season has on you and your loved ones.
You can increase your Vitamin C dosage to 2,000-3,000 mg a day; any more than that, if taken orally, can result in loose stools. We can also do high doses of Vitamin C, up to 12g, using IV therapy which bypass the GI tract and is really effective at eliminating the flu virus.
Some exciting news is Live Well will soon be able to offer Ozone IV’s which are very effective against viral infections. Though you may have heard a lot of negative things about Ozone regarding our environment, Ozone IV’s are a very safe and effective antiviral treatment.
Questions About Cold and Flu Season or Naturopathic Care?
No matter your level of familiarity with cold and flu season or naturopathic care, it’s normal to have questions. If you would like to set up a consultation with Dr. McConnell, please call our office, (480) 752-7600, so we can get a time scheduled.