Haims: Flu season is here and it’s a bad one
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 No. 1 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.
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 to avoid the flu
- 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.
- 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.
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 on 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 and mental well-being 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 or Dr. Eliza Klearman at Vail Valley Pharmacy in Edwards. I have found them both to be very willing to answer questions.
Seasonal and H1N1 flu
Over 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. Data from clinical trials indicate that these new high-dose vaccines assist in promoting stronger antibody levels.
Complications of the flu in seniors may include:
- 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 of 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 in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. He can be contacted at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or by phone at 970-328-5526.
Thanks to a partnership between The Community Market and Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley, students can now access nutritious food at no cost to them without having to leave campus.