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During the flu season you have to be on the defense

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It’s that time again. When everyone around seems to be getting sick. Which means that it is flu season. Which can be a good thing because you can choose to take up habits during the flu season that can benefit you for the rest of the year. Such as washing your hands regularly or abstinence from smoking. Below are some simple tips or suggestions that I have found helpful.

I believe that it is important to recognize, difference between the common cold and the flu. For example the type of viruses that get you sick are different for the flu versus the common cold. The flu is caused by either Influenza A or B,  in comparison to the common cold which can be caused by over 200 different varieties of the rhinovirus. They also differ in the symptoms, the WebMD website, found here does a good job of going more into detail. Nonetheless, the symptoms can be be found below.

Common Cold:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Children can get a fever
  • Lasts about one week

Flu:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever in children and adults
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • How long symptoms lasts vary

It is also important to add that people who have cold like symptoms that do not go away within a week,  should check with their doctor to see if the have an allergy or sinusitis. On that note I would like to make it clear that I am not a registered physician or nurse and that the information given here should be used under your own judgment.

Before we get into what you can do as a preventative measure and or if  you do get sick. I would like to point out a couple of bad habits that should not be done while one is sick:

  • You should not smoke, if you are a smoker.
  • You should not exercise, this is because exercise puts stress(usually a good thing) on the body and your body needs all the energy it can get when you are sick.
  • You should not consume a lot of alcohol(if any at all).
  • According to certified nutritional consultant, Phyllis Balch, (2012), “do not give aspirin to a child who shows symptoms of a viral  infection.” This because giving aspirin can result in the child developing Reye’s syndrome, which could be serious.
  • Phyllis Balch, (2012), also recommends not to take antibiotics since they are useless against viruses. This is because antibiotics fight bacteria and not viruses. So be careful if you doctor prescribes antibiotics.

With that said, I would like to focus on what one can do if they get the common cold or the flu.  These habits and remedies are ones that focus on the bodies own ability to fight the virus in the body. So they can be used while you are sick as well as prevent you from getting sick.

One of the most important things that you can do is wash your hands regularly and try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. This does not mean using hand sanitizers, which is becoming very common. There is controversy around the use of hand sanitizers, for various reasons, such as how it can lead to skin problems,  Lisa A. Garner, MD, stated:

“Everyone’s afraid of germs, but our skin can’t tolerate [hand sanitizer] as much as some people are using it,”

What Dr. Garner is saying is that the over use of hand sanitizers is causing an increase in skin problems. Dr. garner is a dermatologist(doctor who specializes in skin and its diseases), who has seen a rapid increase in skin problems due to use of hand sanitizers among other things. The complete article can be found here.

This is not to say that you should not use hand sanitizers when convenient or appropriate. I believe that hand sanitizers do have a place in our lives. For example in the work place, if you are someone who works in a hospital, school, or any job that requires you to use tools that other people use, then hand sanitizers come in handy. This is because you can wipe down the equipment, table, whatever it may be with the hand sanitizer. I would also recommend carrying a small bottle of lotion in your bag or purse.

Now to the good stuff! We cannot talk about natural remedies without talking about teas. Teas are very beneficial in reducing the length of a cold or preventing you from getting the flu.  Phyllis Balch (2012), states,” that drinking 2-5 cups of green tea a day during the flu season can prevent you from getting the flu.” I personally recommend two things, the first: get your hands on white tea, if you can find it. This is because it has more antioxidants then green tea. The second: no disrespect to Dr. Balch but drink as much tea as you can (2-5 cups? you can do better). Another important tea to drink is enchinacea(highly recommended). To increase the effects of the teas, I would recommend adding cayenne pepper to the tea, as well as slices of fresh ginger(powder if it is all that you have), as well as boiling the water with lemon peels in the water(my Aunt’s recommendation). Regarding the Green and white tea, it is important to buy Fairtrade tea, and anything you can for that matter. You can purchase Fairtrade tea in you local organic store or online here and here.

One remedy that I highly recommend is the consumption of raw garlic cloves. This is one that some people shy from because of the stigma around the way garlic can make you smell, but in comparison to the health benefits I believe it is worth it. Dr Andrew Weil, (2005), recommends to finely chop the garlic cloves and eat them raw. This is because when they are cooked the beneficial qualities of the garlic are reduced. Garlic has very strong anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties. One thing that has to be said, is if you do decide to consume garlic in the raw or cooked form, I recommend that you let the garlic sit for at least fifteen minutes, before eating or cooking it. This is has to do with what happens to the garlic when it is exposed to the air. If you want more information on this click here.

For relief from congestion, allergic symptoms, and the cold,  it might be beneficial to use a neti pot. A neti pot is a device that allows you to rinse your nasal passage ways with luke warm water and a non-iodized salt. You can purchase a neti pot or make one yourself. I have provided links to two videos on Youtube here and here(make sure the water is not hot!!! When you use it).

I hope that you find this information useful. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns, and or ideas.

Peace.

References:

Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing. 2nd ed. revised. Stacy Bell. New York. Avery. 2012. print.

Kam Katherine. “Surprising Household Irritants.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC, 13 Sept. 2011.

Weil, Andrew. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimal Health. 1995. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.print.

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