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INFLUENZA PREVENTION

Todd A. Hoover, MD, DHt Like many people, you may be confused by all of the recommendations for how to prevent the flu. Let’s take a look at the symptoms, people who are at highest risk, and some proven strategies to prevent you from getting sick. Seasonal Influenza, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. The main time period for the flu in the U.S. is from October through March. Each year the types of flu viruses present in the U.S. change. Even though you may build resistance as a result of catching the flu one year, a different virus may be the major cause of the disease in the following year. As the virus changes each year, the symptoms may change but generally include:  Fever, with or without chills  Tired feeling  Muscle or joint aches  Headache  Cough  Runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea may also occur The severity of the disease changes with the type of virus each year. The most severe influenza seasons have been given historical names including Spanish flu of 1914, Asian flu of 1957, and Hong Kong flu of 1968. Most healthy adults will recover within 3-4 days from a typical flu. But those with prior health problems are at risk for more severe illness. Those at highest risk for complications with the flu include:  Children younger than 5 years of age  Pregnant women  Adults over 65 years of age  People with: o Asthma or other chronic lung problems o Immune system problems or Cancer o Blood disorders like sickle cell anemia o Chronic Kidney Disease Prevent Transmission of the Flu Good personal hygiene is very important to reduce your risk of infection. Make sure to wash your hands frequently. Avoid close contact with others who are sick. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. And avoid coming to work when you are ill or have a fever. Raise your Fitness and Resistance Fit people are less likely to catch the flu.

Keep your level of fitness high during flu season by: 1. Get proper amounts of rest (enough to feel recharged in the morning). 2. Exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes 3x per week) . 3. Eat nutritious food. 4. Drink plenty of fluids. 5. Keep Stress in check. 6. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Some alternative medicine therapies have also shown some benefit in prevention of colds and flu. Consider adding these tested products: 1. Drink Green Tea1 2. Take probiotics or eat yogurt daily2,3 3. Take Echinacea if you are exposed to the flu4 4. Zinc lozenges if you are exposed to the flu5 5. Take Garlic in supplement or raw form6 What about Vaccination? Currently the Centers for Disease Control, Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians recommend yearly influenza vaccination for:  All people over 6 months of age  People with high risk for complications should have highest priority You should not receive a vaccination if you have a history of egg allergy, reaction to previous influenza vaccine, history of Guillain Barre syndrome after a vaccination, or current illness with a fever. Some physicians have questioned the value of vaccination for influenza because the virus changes so rapidly. But statistics show that over the past 50 years, deaths from influenza and pneumonia have decreased by about 70%. Many researchers believe this is directly related to vaccination programs.7 Taking these few steps should help keep you healthy and productive through the flu season! But if you do develop cold and flu symptoms, get information on Natural Support for Cold and Flu here.

REFERENCES
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Song JM, Lee KH, Seong BL. Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus. Antiviral Res. 2005 Nov;68(2):66-74.

Vouloumanou EK, et al. Probiotics for the prevention of respiratory tract infections: A systematic review. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 2009;34:197.e1.
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Meydani SN, Ha WK. Immunologic effects of yogurt. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000 Apr;71(4):861-72.
Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, et al. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2007;7:473–480.
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Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011. Josling P. Preventing the Common Cold With a Garlic Supplement: A Double-Blind, PlaceboControlled Survey. Advances In Natural Therapy. Jul/Aug 2001. 18(4) 189-93. 7 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. 2011. Table 24:137.