What to do about the flu.

What should I do?

First of all, turn off your TV and your radio and stop reading the paper! Of course, being informed is important but there is such a thing as being overinformed. The 24-hour news networks have lots of time to fill and inducing panic keeps their viewing figures up. Stress can reduce your immune function and predispose you to getting sick! It doesn’t help to be told that your kids absolutely must be vaccinated and that there’s also a shortage of the vaccine!

Next, protect yourself and your family using the simple approaches mentioned in this article (see below about hand washing and vitamin D). Then, if you think you or your kids may have the flu, stay home from work or keep them home from school and give us a call. If we think you need to be seen, we’ll happily fit you in – that day, if necessary. Resting your body helps keep your immune system strong to fight the infection and keeping away from others will reduce the spread of the disease.

How can I tell if it’s the flu?

Flus will come on suddenly and will generally have most of the following characterisitics – high fever, extreme fatigue and achiness, severe cough and headache. Runny noses and sore throats are unlikely to be the flu. You should be concerned about any of the following: trouble breathing, repeated vomiting, bluish color to the skin, if symptoms get better but then fever returns with worse cough or if a child is so upset they don’t want to be held or can’t seem to interact with you.

What about the vaccines?

Of course, the choice to vaccinate yourself or your child is a personal decision and people will choose either way for a variety of reasons. It is unlikely that either the flu or the vaccine will seriously hurt you. However, there are legitimate concerns on either side. There is little to no evidence for the efficacy of flu vaccines in protecting pregnant women or the elderly, two of the groups targeted earliest for immunization. There are also cautions against their use in children, especially those under 2 years old because there is almost no safety data on infants. A recent study at the Mayo clinic found that children who received flu vaccines were much more likely to be hospitalized, especially if they had asthma.

How can I treat the Flu?

There are a number of different treatments that the doctors may use if you come down with the flu, depending on your age and symptoms. A number of vitamins and herbs can be effective against the flu. Sometimes, adults feel so sick that we recommend IV Vitamin C, which we have found to be very effective in shortening the length of any acute illness.

Washing Your Hands of the Flu

There’s one thing that basically everyone agrees on about the flu – wash your hands frequently. What could be simpler? You’ll be surprised.

Avoid antibacterial soap

Almost all liquid soaps and many bars advertise themselves as antibacterial. What does that mean? Do they prevent the spread of infection more than regular soap? Well, first of all, influenza is caused by a virus, not bacteria, so the additive would be ineffective anyway. Also, most antibacterial soaps contain the toxic pesticide triclosan that may cause developmental problems and cancer (based on studies done by Colgate, who put it in their toothpaste). Everyone from the FDA to the AMA advises AGAINST their use! For more, see ewg.org.

Avoid hand sanitizers

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers like Purell can inactivate some viruses but they don’t clean the dirt that provides home for germs. They are LESS effective than simple soap and water. Also, thay can also easily cause poisoning in children because of their high alcohol content. Just licking Purell off their hands has sent some young kids to the ER. They are also flammable and, while accidents are rare, flames and hand sanitizer do not mix.

Fight the Flu with Vitamin D

New research suggests that having low levels of vitamin D increases your chances of getting the flu. In fact, the Canadian government is funding a large study to determine the benefits of vitamin D for the treatment and prevention of seasonal flu.

Surprisingly, vitamin D levels are often low, even in people who spend time out in the sun. For adults, it’s easy – come in and get tested. If you are breastfeeding an infant, you should also get tested because, if you are deficient, your child may be too. Vitamin D is available in kid-friendly drops. Ask your doctor whether vitamin D is necessary for you or your child. This could be the most effective way to prevent flu for your family.

If you or your family get sick or are worried about getting sick with the flu this season, please call us at 626 794 4668 and we will help keep you well or get you better.