Flu Prevention and Overall Immune Boosting

(October 2009)

Once again, it's fall and the school year is already well underway. After our temperate Chicago summer, it's hard to imagine that we now need to prepare to ward off winter colds and flu. This year, in addition to typical seasonal strains of the flu virus, H1N1 Influenza (a.k.a. Swine flu) remains a concern that people should take into consideration. One of the best ways to avoid these illnesses is via immune boosting. Natural medicines provide ample ways to do this, from vitamins, minerals and homeopathics to lifestyle and dietary suggestions.


What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people?
H1N1 Influenza is a strain of flu which originated in swine and is caused by the type A influenza virus. It is spread from person to person in the same way that typical seasonal flu is spread, mainly through the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. A person infected with either strain of virus may be contagious to others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick.

Both strains of influenza, which have many similarities, share symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with H1N1 flu infection in people. Due to the similarities in the transmission of both viruses, standard precautions you would normally take to prevent seasonal flu can also help prevent contracting the H1N1 flu.

Who is at higher risk of complications from the swine flu?
Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Individuals who are already immune compromised (those with chronic diseases), infants, pregnant women, health care workers, and the elderly are considered in the high-risk group. People with chronic disease and children who have neurological issues are at the highest risk for complications from this flu.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
There are many simple actions you can take to prevent getting sick this cold and flu season.

 

  1. Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who have flu symptoms, and try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
  3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (or Listerine-like mouthwash) to prevent proliferation. H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show symptoms. Also clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water with a Neti pot.
  4. Stay well hydrated by drinking ½ your body weight in oz. (i.e. if you weigh 140 drink 70 oz. of water).
  5. Eat healing/immune supportive foods such as: garlic, onions, cooking herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc), ginger, medicinal mushrooms (shiitake and reishi). Consume adequate protein with each meal.
  6. Take immune-boosting supplements like Vitamin D3 (as directed by Dr. Raby), fish oil/omega 3 fatty acids (2000-3000 IU daily), regular probiotics and multivitamins. (all of these supplements are available at the Raby Institute)
  7. Decrease stress levels through daily exercise, intake of B vitamins, and proper sleep. Stretching, walking, swimming, working out at a health club, yoga, etc. will assist in maintaining a healthy body.

If flu symptoms arise:

  1. Eat light meals. Give the body a break from digestion and let it fight the infection. Eat foods that are easy to digest - soups, steamed vegetables, etc.
  2. Do not eat sugar, refined carbohydrates, or dairy until you feel better! These foods will lower your immune system.
  3. Avoid mucus-producing foods: dairy, wheat, citrus
  4. Drink plenty of clear fluids. (water, broths, miso soup and electrolyte beverages such as Emergen-C)
  5. Rest as much as possible
  6. Limit exposure to others and cover coughs and sneezes with a respiratory mask.
  7. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (fever should clear without using fever-reducing medications) and allow your body time to recover.
  8. Consume vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients recommended in this article.


When should I see a provider?
If you are experiencing any of these severe flu symptoms, you should make an appointment with a provider at the Raby Institute.

 

 

  • High fever for several days
  • Dehydration (this will often manifest as dizziness when standing, no urination or lack of tears when crying)
  • Intense vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Purple or blue lips or passing out/seizures


H1N1 vaccine information:
Dr. Raby encourages patients to become well-educated about the pros and cons of any flu vaccine, and make the individual choice that is best for you. Visit the Quick Links section of our newsletter for resources so that you can educate yourself and your family and make the right decision for you based on your personal health history and risk factors.


To schedule an appointment to find out more about immune-boosting and flu prevention, or to get your vitamin D levels tested, call 312-276-1212 or email: appointments@rabyintegrativemedicine.com.

 

"Dr. Raby is bright, intelligent and knows how to communicate with people. She helps you to help yourself. She sees things differently than other physicians, in a way that helps the healing process."
- Raby Institute patient