In Canada, flu season usually runs from November to April and an estimated 10-25% of Canadians may get the flu each year. When most people think of flu symptoms, they think of body aches, fatigue, and maybe a cough. However, influenza, or the flu, actually begins as a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus from breathing in droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. Touching a contaminated surface and transferring the virus to your own eyes, nose or mouth will also land you with a case of the flu.
A strong immune system is one of your best lines of defence against this annual scourge. An invading virus is no match for a battle-ready immune system. And did you know you can eat your way back to good health? By eating the right foods when you’re sick, you fuel and support your immune system, giving it its best chance to beat the virus. Maintaining a sanitizing routine is another advisable line of defence; your hands, the surfaces in your home, the interior of your car, and so on.
For the flu, your physician may suggest pharmaceutical supportive therapies such as acetaminophen but there is also a host of non-pharmaceutical supportive therapies in your home that you can take advantage of right away.
The Definition of Influenza
Human influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Strains circulate every year, making people sick. Influenza typically starts with a headache, chills and cough, followed rapidly by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will recover from influenza within a week or ten days…some – including those over 65, and adults and children with chronic conditions such as diabetes and cancer, are at greater risk of more severe complications, such as pneumonia. 1
The Latest Arrival: H1N1, Explained
Swine influenza, or H1N1 flu virus, is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by the influenza A virus. Swine influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. From time to time, human infections do occur, resulting in the H1N1 flu virus. H1N1 flu virus is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal influenza. It is believed that [H1N1] is spread the same way as regular seasonal influenza…from person to person when germs enter the nose and/or throat. 2
What are the Signs and Symptoms of H1N1 in People?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus in people include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. 3
As you can see, the symptoms for seasonal influenza and the H1N1 version are essentially the same. If your symptoms become severe, or if you have serious underlying medical conditions, check with your medical professional sooner rather than later for his/her professional opinion. On a brighter note, a large proportion of individuals who contract the H1N1 strain of the virus recover without even knowing that they were affected by H1N1 and not simply the annual strain of the virus.
Why Do I Get A Fever?
Your body’s reaction to infection is to fight it off and sometimes the result can be a fever. It is fairly safe to assume that the presence of a fever means your body is, indeed, fighting an infection. The body’s defense mechanisms seem to work more efficiently at a higher temperature and viruses and bacteria cannot live at higher temperatures.
Because your body temperature can fluctuate by a degree either way throughout the day, you’re not considered, medically, to have a fever until your body temperature is above 38C or 100.4F.
Fever can last up to 3 to 4 days. A fever is considered dangerous when it reaches 104F or 40C, particularly in children. You should consider consulting your medicalprofessional before your fever reaches this level or if itlasts more than 4 days.
Stop Being Sick and Tired – A Short Lesson on Your Immune System
Our immune system is not an organ-based system like our respiratory system is. Rather, our immune system is a functional system, part of which consists of millions and millions of immune cells found in lymphatic tissues and circulating throughout the body. These cells, the most important two being macrophages and lymphocytes, will directly attack the offending substance. These little killers are so effective that, after an organ transplant, an immune-suppressing drug is given that inhibits their effectiveness so the transplant can take hold. To read the full article on your immune system, CLICK HERE.
Eat Your Way Back To Health
Sometimes your appetite is the first thing you lose when you get sick. But you must remember, to give your body it’s best fighting chance, try to eat specific foods while you’re unwell. This means drinking fruit juices, which are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Maintaining an electrolyte balance in your body is essential to the normal functioning of our cells and our organs and by eating clear soups, like chicken soup, you will replace lost electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. Teas also contain antioxidants. Drinking tea will help hydrate your body and keep you warm. If you can stomach solid foods, stick with fruits and yogurt. Yogurts that contain active bacterial cultures (the good ones!) help ensure proper digestion of the nutrients your body needs to fight off the flu.
Quick and Easy Steps Your Whole Family Can Take – Clean Up Your Act
Viruses can live for days on the surface of toys, coffee makers, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and other hard surfaces. To reduce the spread of influenza viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. Use hand sanitizers whenever possible between washings.
- Use your own cutlery and coffee mug at work and wash them thoroughly every day.
- Use a baby wipe to clean surfaces before you put your food on them and to wipe off computer keyboards before using them.
- Use tissues and hankies to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- A bright smile and a pleasant greeting will get you through flu season without having to shake hands.
- Be aware of surfaces in your home, in your car, on a shopping cart handle, etc. Open doors with a hankie or paper towel when leaving a public restroom and eat off the tray when eating in fast food establishments.
- Change your bedding often and air your blankets outside if you can. A quick tumble dry in a hot dryer can have the same effect.
You don’t have to be fanatical about cleanliness but it does pay off to be vigilant during the height of flu season.
If You Do Get Sick, Time Is Your Best Friend
Do yourself and your colleagues a favor and stay home if you’re sick. Avoiding close contact with others prevents the spread of the flu. And, when you actually take the time to rest and recover, your recovery period could end up be a lot shorter.
Once you’re home recovering, surround yourself with these supportive, non-pharmaceutical therapies:
- hot water bottles
- a heating pad
- “magic” bags (heated or cold)
- flannel pajamas
- warm duvets and flannel sheets
- really warm showers
- tea (and sympathy)
- plenty of liquids
- quiet music, or if you prefer, no music
- your favorite DVD’s
- a dark room with an open window for fresh air(just make sure you’re not in a draft from the window)
- boxes of tissues
- saline nasal spray and/or a neti pot
Nutter’s Can Suggest…
The Echinamide Anti-Viral formula harnesses the power of nature to help you fight viruses. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties to contribute to improved overall health and function. Echinamide is a super-extracted Echinacea purpurea liquid that guarantees the high levels of alkylamides, polysaccharides and cichoric acid, the three key actives responsible for echinacea’s effectiveness in clinical studies. Echinamide contains these actives in a base of the whole herb Echinacea purpurea.
Emergen-C® is the fast, fun way to boost your health and energy. 1,000 mg of Vitamin C to boost immunity and is loaded with 32 mineral complexes as well as; B Vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants and bioflavonoids.
CoQ10 is required by every cell in our body and is the key to chemical reactions that produce cellular energy. Just as an automobile engine with poor spark plugs chokes, sputters and dies, without enough CoQ10 (our cellular spark plug) our health can break down, resulting in all kinds of degenerative diseases. Studies show that CoQ10 may be effective for congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, and gum disease.
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.
Further Reading and Resources:
1. The Canadian Lung Association – H1N1 Information
2. National Health Service – U.K.
3. FluWatch – Public Health Agency of Canada
4. Getting Ready For Flu Season
Public Health Agency of Canada
1. Public Health Agency of Canada
2. Public Health Agency of Canada
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)