Should you get a flu shot? | VailDaily.com

Should you get a flu shot?

Our weather has been great lately. People are outside cycling, running, playing in the rivers and golfing. Summer is an amazing time to be outside. However, winter is around the corner and with its onset comes flu season, and, of course, your annual flu shot.

But the flu shot is not for everyone. While the flu shot has been proven to help fend off the flu, many people are not sold on its efficacy and safety. For these people, there are options available that can aid in reducing the chances of catching the flu.

First and foremost, the number one thing we can do to protect ourselves from a cold or flu is to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently. Unfortunately, viruses can linger on surfaces for as long as 48 hours. That means when you grabbed a shopping cart at the market, a pen at the bank or place of business to sign your credit card receipt, or got change from a purchase you just bought, a virus could be waiting to infect you. Using a hand sanitizer lotion and being diligent about washing your hands is your first line of defense from lurking viruses and other germs.

Maybe you're not really sick. Maybe you are just feeling a bit "off." Just because you have a stuffy nose and are a bit congested with a small headache does not mean you're "sick." Actually, maybe you just did not sleep well last night and you're a little run down from working so much. Maybe a good cup of hot tea, lemon and honey will fix you all up. Or, maybe, a quick trip to the pharmacy to stock up on vitamins and supplements will whip you back into shape.

Tips

• Don't let yourself get run down and sleep deprived. Research has proven that proper sleep is integral to helping the body's immune system battle all kinds of invading infections.

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• Try using a humidifier. As the weather turns cold and dry, the tiny hairs inside your nose (cilia) become less effective at protecting foreign pathogens from entering your nasal cavities and possibly triggering an illness.

• Don't rely on vitamin C. Yep, you read that right. Experts have found little to no evidence that vitamin C is effective in preventing or treating the common cold and flu.

Supplements help

Over the past few weeks, Kent from Vail Valley Pharmacy and I have been talking about gut health on our radio show, "Preparing to Live Well." While keeping your gut healthy is essential to overall well-being and good digestion, it may also be integral in fending off the flu.

There is quite a bit of evidence suggesting that good bacteria provided in quality probiotics can aid the body's immune function and can have a preventive effect for both the cold and flu viruses. Studies carried out on healthy people found that those who use probiotic supplements and probiotic foods may have fewer colds, flus and winter infections.

Our gut is integral to our overall well-being. Our gut determines more about our health and emotional/mental wellbeing than you'd ever imagine. If the bacteria within your gut is not healthy, you will not be as healthy as you could be and you will leave yourself open to a greater risk of health concerns.

While supplements have the potential to help keep our body and immune system healthy, it is important to make sure you get the right ones to properly help you prevent illness. If you have questions, reach out to Kent at Vail Valley Pharmacy in Edwards or Dr. Eliza Klearman in Eagle. I have found them both to be helpful and very willing to answer questions.

Seasonal and H1N1 flu

Throughout the past few years, seasonal and H1N1 flu viruses have made big headlines. Different strains seem to have become resistant to vaccinations and thus our ability to more thoroughly protect ourselves has become more difficult.

While it is a good idea for everyone to get the flu shot, if you are older than 65 and have a chronic disease, you are more likely to have problems from the flu. Recently, new high-dose vaccinations have come to market that are designed to specifically assist older adults whose immune defenses have become weaker due to health issues. Data from clinical trials indicates that these new high-dose vaccines assist in promoting stronger antibody levels.

Complications of the flu in seniors may include the following:

Pneumonia.

Dehydration.

Worsening of chronic medical conditions, including lung conditions such as asthma and emphysema and heart disease.

In addition to getting the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine it is recommended that you consider the following steps to help protect your health:

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone — unless you need to get medical care.

Keep your home stocked with a supply supplements, alcohol-based hand rubbing solution and tissues.

By practicing good health habits, you can help yourself from getting sick from the flu this winter.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care. His contact information is: http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, or 970-328-5526.