How to Prevent the Dreaded Flu
In my last article, I touched on some of the research to show that the flu shot may not provide the prevention that we would hope. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent the flu and the secondary infections that come along with it. If you feel that getting the flu shot is not right for you, you can try these other methods of prevention, which will likely not only prevent the flu, but other illnesses as well. In fact, they will improve your overall health and immunity.
Keep Your Flu to Yourself
Air droplets – through sneezing, coughing, and touching the hands of a person who has touched their infected eyes, nose, or mouth, spread the flu virus from person to person. The flu virus can also be passed from person to person through fomites, or objects contaminated with a flu virus, which can survive on surfaces for 8-48 hours.
To prevent the spread of the virus, wash your hands and face often with plain soap and water. Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and especially wash your hands after touching your face. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Remember that surfaces, and people, could be contaminated without you knowing it. To be safe, keep your hands away from your face.
If you do get sick, you should stay at home and away from your family members. Quarantine is the most important and effective method of preventing the spread of the flu. If you are sick, stay at home! While work and school are difficult to miss, you save a lot of people a lot of misery by keeping your flu to yourself. No matter how good you think you are at keeping your germs to yourself, you are spreading them into the air and onto surfaces, and putting others at high risk for catching the flu. And trust me, no one wants to be around you when you are sick, no matter how important your jobs and errands and events might seem.
Vitamin D is Key
The flu virus is a seasonal virus, infecting most people soon after the winter solstice. The incidence of the flu is significantly lower in the summer, but it is not because the virus goes away at that time of year. Research shows that it is actually due to a decrease in the antimicrobial peptide (AMP) system, that is crucial to the functioning of the immune system.
The impairment of AMP may be due to the seasonal fluctuations in vitamin D levels. The importance of the role of vitamin D in innate immunity is more evident than ever.
A recent study showed that taking vitamin D at a small dose greatly lessened the incidence of both cold and flu. At a higher dose, vitamin D eradicated all reports of colds and flu. ‘Tis the season for some extra vitamin D!
Herbs Can Prevent the Flu Too
Echinacea purpurea is traditionally used to prevent and treat infections of the upper respiratory tract. This herb has the same mechanism of action as Tamiflu, without the drug resistance. Echinacea stops the flu virus from entering the cells and prevents the infection from moving from cell to cell in the body.
Sambuccus nigra is another herb used for viral infection. Sambuccus prevents the flu virus from binding to the cells and also plays a role in improving immune function. Research has shown that taking Sambuccus decreases the severity of flu symptoms and shortens the duration of illness.
There Is A Lot You Can Do
Choosing to avoid the flu shot does not make you a moving target for getting the flu. You can be proactive and take steps to improve your immune status and your overall health. You can decrease your chances of getting any cold or upper respiratory infection, not just the flu, by following the above guidelines.