Hello everybody. I received multiple requests to review how to stay well during the winter. This is a great topic and very timely. There are a couple of things you can do to stay healthy during cold and flu season.
First of all get your flu shot! I hear a lot of people tell me “I got the flu shot once and I got sick anyway so it’s not worth it.” If you had ever had a true case of influenza you wouldn’t say that. The flu shot will not protect you against “stomach flu,” food poisoning or the common cold, and not ALL strains of influenza are covered. However the flu shot is good protection against the included strains and is very safe. You should not get the flu shot if you’re allergic to it (duh) or if you’re allergic to eggs. The most common side effect is local arm soreness. There is a VERY serious and rare complication of ALL vaccinations called Guillain-Barre syndrome but in twelve years I’ve only seen it once. Flu is most dangerous for the very young and the very old, as well as for those who don’t have healthy immune systems. Babies under 6 months can’t get the flu shot so everyone in the house should be vaccinated to protect the baby (especially schoolage siblings). Pregnant women should be vaccinated once they’re out of the first trimester.
Other things you can do to keep from getting sick this winter are fairly commonsense. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your elbow. Use antiseptic cleansers on telephones and doorknobs (use cleansers that don’t make fumes, click HERE to see which one I use). Eat healthy, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, take a high-quality multivitamin, control your stress and try not to worry about or focus on getting sick (I’m a big believer in a positive attitude).
So in spite of all the above measures you’ve caught a bug anyway. How do you know what it is and what to do about it? Most of us know what a cold feels like. It starts with the tickle or scratchy feeling in the back of the throat and progresses over a day or two to a runny nose, sore throat, body aches, headache and cough. The mucus is thin and clear at first and may evolve to yellow or green mucus especially first thing in the morning. My general recommendation is to ride it out, drink extra fluids, get extra sleep, and eat chicken soup (there is some evidence that it thins the mucus and helps it drain more easily). Using a nasal saline spray or wash seems to help too, but use distilled water instead of tap water to make the saline solution. Antibiotics DON’T help a cold and can cause diarrhea or a rash or yeast infection. Expect symptoms to peak on the third or fourth day and gradually get better, feeling fully well again after 10-14 days. If symptoms are still not getting better after a week or they get better then worsen again, you probably should see the doctor.
Influenza is a common and potentially life-threatening viral illness that’s spread by airborne transmission (you can get it by breathing the same air as someone who has influenza) and by touch. It has a very sudden onset, causes a high fever and severe headache and body aches, dry cough, occasionally vomiting (especially in children) and lasts 7-10 days. If you think you have the flu STAY HOME!! Do not go to work or send your sick child to school. Most healthy people can ride it out without specific treatment other than rest and fluids and over-the-counter cold and flu medicine. If you develop shortness of breath or chest pain you should see the doctor though, sometimes flu patients get pneumonia.
Can supplements help prevent and treat colds and flu? If you’d like to try supplements to boost your immune system, first of all be careful what you buy. Please read THIS before choosing a supplement. There are a number of supplements I CAN recommend. Everyone should take a high-quality multivitamin (read THIS to see why). Check the Shaklee Family tab above for specific age-and-gender recommendations. If you’d like to read about the only supplement developed by a Nobel prize winning researcher to naturally increase the body’s production of interferon and strengthen the immune system, click HERE. I also have a great supplement I use when I’m starting with a cold, usually knocks it right out. Click HERE for more info.