Ah, fall – the falling leaves, the crisp air, the nasty cold and flu bugs lurking around every corner. Okay, that might be dramatic, but it is true that flu season goes hand in hand with the weather turning, and it’s the worst part about the cold months.
It’s time to ramp up your vitamin and greens supplement intake. As of August 22, 2020, Canada has already seen 42,541 confirmed influenza cases, and if you’re one of those unlucky people, you might be wondering what the flu is and how you can best treat it.
What is the Flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory infection caused by a family of Orthomyxoviridae viruses. Viruses are microscopic parasites, even smaller than bacteria. They are little bugs that teeter on the line of living and non-living.
Viruses have key elements that indicate life: nucleic acids and DNA or RNA. However, viruses cannot reproduce without a host (that’s you). A virus hijacks the host’s cell machinery and causes its reproduction until it is ready to infect. Once complete and ready for infection, a virus is known as a virion. Symptoms generally begin to emerge two to four days after exposure to influenza.
There are three types of influenza viruses:
- Influenza A
- Influenza B
- Influenza C
Influenza A and B are the seasonal, highly contagious bugs responsible for the flu that hit your work or home. Influenza C is relatively rare and doesn’t typically cause outbreaks.
Common Misconceptions About the Flu
Influenza has been around for an exceptionally long time, and in that time, plenty of myths surrounding the virus have arisen. To best avoid the flu and fight it once you’ve got it, you need to have the facts.
- You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu shot is an inactive virus that cannot transmit infection. If you get sick following the flu shot, you were likely already infected, or infected in the two-week period it takes for the flu shot to protect you fully.
- You should get a flu vaccine, even if you’re healthy. It’s true that it’s essential for at-risk people (young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals) to be vaccinated. However, even generally healthy people should vaccinate against the flu. Flu vaccinations can lessen the severity of symptoms if you do contract the bug.
- Once you’re vaccinated, you still must be careful to avoid contagions. It is still possible to contract the flu after vaccination as the vaccines are not, unfortunately, 100% effective.
- The flu is more severe than a cold. Though the symptoms are similar, influenza can lead to hospitalization or even death, especially in at-risk groups such as young children and the elderly.
- You can spread the flu, even if you feel okay. Somewhere between 20 and 30% of people carrying the influenza virus do not exhibit symptoms.
- You need a flu shot every year. The influenza viruses mutate or change every year, which is why it’s essential to get a flu shot every year.
- You can’t catch the flu (or a cold) from the cold weather. Standing in the rain or going without a coat won’t lead to flu symptoms. Only exposure to the influenza virus will cause the flu.
- There is no such thing as a “stomach flu.” The term “flu” comes from the word influenza. None of the influenza viruses cause the gastrointestinal symptoms that many people refer to as the “stomach flu.”
Nine Tips to Fight the Flu Once You’ve Got It
Sometimes your flu shot and all the greens supplements and vitamins in the world can’t prevent you from coming down with the nasty bug. So, how can you best fight the flu once you’ve got it?
- Stay home! Most importantly, you are very contagious. You must stay home to limit the potential spread of the influenza virus. Not to mention, your body needs plenty of rest to fight and heal from the virus. Call off at your first inkling of illness and don’t return until you’re void of symptoms. It’s best to stay home with your cocktail of over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and greens supplements until you’re feeling better. You are contagious with the flu until your symptoms resolve.
- Rest and sleep. Besides feeling terrible, your body needs extra rest to fight off the flu and heal from symptoms. While sleeping, the brain produces a protein called AcPb, which is associated with faster recovery.
Sleep is essential to healing in other ways, too. Fevers typically rise at night while the body is deep in restorative sleep. Fevers indicate that your body is fighting hard against a bug. So feed your body well with greens supplements, rest, and then rest some more.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking water and other liquids, including juice, sports drinks, broth-based soups, and liquid you mix with your greens supplements, help hydrate your respiratory system and loosen and thin mucus. A build-up of thick mucus within your lungs can lead to dangerous secondary infections, so hydration is critical.
- Take your vitamins. Continue to take your vitamins and greens supplements through your illness if you’re not vomiting. Maintaining proper nutrition with your vitamins and greens supplements will help you feel better faster and avoid that prolonged feeling of fatigue that tends to linger even after your other symptoms have dissipated.
Greens supplements have a variety of vitamins and antioxidants that help your body fight off illness.
Vitamin C is especially helpful after you’ve come down with the flu. Vitamin C does not prevent colds or the flu, but it does reduce the length and severity of symptoms. If you don’t have any on hand, it might be in your best interest to send someone out to pick up some vitamin C and start taking it as soon as possible.
- Treat aches and pains. A tell-tale symptom of influenza is the body aches, pain, and fatigue. Treat the symptoms with your over-the-counter medication of choice, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you don’t typically keep medicines like these in your home, send a loved one to pick it up for your along with your vitamin Ask your doctor which over-the-counter pain reliever is best for you.
- Should you treat a fever? There are two schools of thought for treating a fever – let it ride or suppress it.
Fevers play a role in the body’s immune response to fighting off illness. For healthy adults over the age of 18, you can let a fever ride unless it reaches 38.9 degrees Celsius, at which point you can treat with over the counter medications. If the fever doesn’t respond to medications, is consistently higher than 39.4 degrees Celsius, or does not break after three days, you should call your primary care physician.
It’s worth noting that treating your body’s aches and pains with over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen will also treat the fever.
- Treat your cough. Coughs and congestion can be miserable and prevent you from getting much-needed rest. The build-up of thick mucus can also lead to secondary infections. You can treat your cough and the sore throat that results with over-the-counter expectorants (always be aware of combining medications and ask a doctor or pharmacists for help) and throat lozenges. Many throat lozenges include zinc and vitamin C to ease symptoms.
- Make your own steam room. Steam is another way to combat the thick mucus and respiratory unease that accompanies the flu. Turn your bathroom into your very own steam room by turning on the shower with the door closed and the fan off. Allow the room to fill with steam and breathe in the warm vapors for some temporary relief.
- Use a humidifier. Humidifiers can give you the same benefit that your own steam room can, and they can work through the night to give you the best chance at a good night’s rest.
To sum up, you need a few things to get through the flu: vitamins, greens supplements, over-the-counter pain relievers and expectorants, throat lozenges, plenty of liquids, a humidifier, and plenty of rest.
When You Need to Call the Doctor
Even though you will feel awful with the contraction of the flu, you most likely can ride out symptoms in the comfort of your home. However, if you experience any of the following, your greens supplements aren’t enough, and you should call your doctor.
- Drainage from your ears or an earache
- Pain in your forehead or face with thick mucus for more than a week
- A temperature higher than 39.4 degrees Celsius
- A persistent cough or hoarseness that doesn’t improve after a week
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Excessive vomiting
- Symptoms that get worse or don’t go away
- Stiff neck or other unusual symptoms
If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, it is a medical emergency, and you should call 9-1-1.
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Trouble waking
How to Avoid the Flu
With any luck, and taking proper precautions with your greens supplements and more, you can avoid contracting the virus altogether. Follow these tips for your best chance at avoiding the flu this season.
- Get a flu shot. You should get the flu shot every year. Vaccination is your best line of defense against the flu. If you are unlucky enough to still come down with the flu, your symptoms might be significantly less severe if you get your flu shot.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds several times though out the day. It is especially important to wash your hands after using the restroom, after blowing your nose, before eating, and upon returning home. The more frequently you wash your hands, the less likely you are to introduce the virus to your system, even if you do come in contact with it.
- Get adequate rest. Along with proper nutrition from your diet and the addition of greens supplements, a proper sleep schedule ensures your immune system stays in tip-top shape. Don’t underestimate the power of sound, consistent sleep!
- Eat your greens (supplements). Giving your body the nutrition it needs is another excellent way to ensure that your immune system stays in proper working order. Everyone knows that a big part of a balanced diet is fruits and vegetables, but we still struggle to eat the recommended five to seven servings per day. Enter greens supplements.
Greens supplements are a quick, convenient way to give your body vitamin and mineral micronutrients equal to that of up to seven servings of fruits and veggies in one supplement. Try North Coast Naturals Daily Greens supplement. This quality greens supplement includes nutrition equal to seven servings of fruits and vegetables in one serving. Simply mix a serving with water, and you’ve got a nutritional cocktail and excellent hydration in one greens supplement.
- Take your vitamins. Vitamins are another excellent way to ensure you’re filling any nutritional gaps that you fall short on through your diet alone. Pay attention to these particular vitamins and minerals when considering your immune system through cold and flu season, as they play critical roles in immune function within the body:
Through vaccination, good hygiene, ample rest, vitamins, and greens supplements, you can give your body it’s best chance to avoid catching the flu. If you fall ill with influenza, treat your body right by staying home, resting, treating symptoms, hydrating, and maintaining your nutrition through vitamins and greens supplements. You should be feeling better before too long. Don’t forget to call the doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or worsen. If caught early enough, your doctor might even recommend an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu, so don’t be a hero and avoid your primary care physician if you need her.