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December 2, 2019

 Influenza season is starting in the United States. "During 2010-2016, the incidence of symptomatic influenza among vaccinated and unvaccinated US residents, including both medically attended and nonattended infections, was approximately 8% and varied from 3% to 11% among seasons." (Tokars et. al. 2018) Last year's flu season was not particularly rough in North Carolina, however, influenza claims 10's of thousands of lives a year in this country, especially among the elderly. According to the CDC there were 143 pediatric deaths last year primarily among young children and children with chronic health conditions of which the majority were not vaccinated. (CDC stats)

Every year, I blog about this virus primarily to keep it fresh on your mind in order to prepare and secondarily because it causes so much morbidity and mortality. There is never a good time to ignore this virus and its potential to cause havoc. Influenza comes back to annoy us every year and it is hard to completely avoid by quarantining yourself.

The flu is different from the common cold in many ways as the flu has:
1) Rapid onset with high spiking fevers
2) Muscle and headaches
3) Little to not sneezing and sore throat
4) Rapid and robust cough onset

Preventing the virus from taking root in your body is the key to avoiding a bad outcome.

Things that I think of as critical to avoiding or preventing this infection:

1) Keeping your vitamin D level greater than 50 ng/ml is an important way to prevent influenza infections. Get tested and supplement accordingly.

2) Get adequate sleep based on your age to keep your immune system in great shape. Sleep Articles Link

3) Take a good quality probiotic daily and eat lots of fiber based foods. Dose based on provider recommendations.

4) Wash your hands throughly for 20 seconds with soap and water multiple times a day. Especially in high risk areas like schools.

5) Eat lots of fresh citrus and colorful yellow, red and orange foods for adequate vitamin C.

6) Maintain adequate zinc levels in your body for a healthy immune system. Zinc is commonly found in beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, seeds, mushrooms, nuts, beans, pork and cocoa.

7) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This helps you avoid viral transmission.

8) Take elderberry syrup as directed if you feel that you have been exposed to the virus.

9) Stay well hydrated and keep your system stout by drinking 1 ounce of water per kilogram of body weight a day.

10) Stay positive mentally and be happy.

Consider getting the flu shot as it can significantly reduce your risk of mortality even if it does not entirely prevent everyone from getting sick.

All high risk groups should definitely get a flu vaccine and avoid the risk. Who is high risk?: pregnant women, children less than 5 years old, people with lung diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, immune defects, heart disease and more.

If you contract the virus, then what should you do???

Medicines that are antiviral for the influenza virus seem to be of limited value in the average healthy adult or child over age 5 years according to the published research. High risk groups can still benefit from these medicines to control a potential bad outcome.

 

Dr. M

Tokars Clinical Infectious Diseases Article