Category: Flu

The Stomach Flu Verses the Other Flu

By , June 4, 2020 5:14 am

Do you know the difference between the stomach flu and influenza? Many people use the term interchangeably, but the assumption is not correct and failing to understand the difference between the two can lead to serious health based consequences.

The term “stomach flu” is a popular term used in society. However, the term is incorrect when considered as a medical diagnosis. The two diagnoses could not be more different and the two conditions are caused by two separate irritants. The correct term for what is commonly referred to as the stomach flu is gastroenteritis. When directly translated from the Latin based medical term, ‘Gastro’ = stomach, ‘enter’ = relates to the intestines, ‘itis’ – inflammation.

People who are suffering from the condition gastroenteritis, or the stomach flu, are suffering from inflammation of the intestines and stomach, which is classified as the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenteritis is caused by a number of factors, including a virus, a bacterium, or a parasite. It does not have to be caused by an infection. The triggers for gastroenteritis can include a food allergy, like lactose intolerance or an allergic reaction to specific food types. (1, 2)

On the other hand, the flu is caused by a virus well-known to be influenza. The flu typically mimics symptoms experienced during a respiratory cold, except it begins a lot faster and causes more fatigue, fever, and a deeper level of congestion. People who are suffering from an upper respiratory infection, which is also classified under rhinovirus, or the common cold, may suffer from a low-grade fever. However, people who have the flu generally suffer from a fever that is above 100 degrees F. (3)

There are more than 100 types of viruses that cause the common cold. In contrast, only the influenza viruses types A, B, and C, are capable of causing the flu. While there are only three types of influenza capable of causing the flu, each type is capable of countless genetic mutations, and are able to develop different strains within the type each year. The flu is typically considered a mild virus that is irritating and unpleasant. However, it is capable of leading to more severe, and possibly life-threatening illnesses, like pneumonia in people who have a compromised immune system, or medical condition that impairs their immune system. The flu can easily transition into other conditions in people who are young, over 65, asthmatics, diabetics, people suffering from heart disease, cancer, or AIDS. (3)

Treatment of conditions that develop secondary to the flu depends on the person’s overall health, and the specific conditions they are suffering form. In a normal, healthy male or female, treatment for the flu is typically not necessary. The majority of individuals are able to successfully recover from the illness by increasing their fluid intake, resting, and eating right. People who have underlying medical conditions may require supportive care from a doctor, or a hospital-based program. This allows them easy access to oxygen, IV fluids, and antibiotics should they develop pneumonia.

Gastroenteritis, typically referred to as the stomach flu, may include a headache, inflamed lymph nodes, fever, varying degrees of headache, and other symptoms, depending on the foreign body infecting them. Many individuals experience stomach cramps, stomach pain, varying degrees of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is possible to experience gastroenteritis by developing other conditions, like food poisoning, allergic reactions to food, inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, and viral and bacterial infections.

In severe cases, people suffering from gastroenteritis can cause the loss of large amounts of body fluid. Loss of body fluid can result in dehydration. It does not require the loss of a lot of fluid to cause a situation where immediate treatment by a doctor is needed. Any signs of dehydration should be taken seriously. These symptoms include dry mucus membranes, decreased skin elasticity, decreased urine output, excessive thirst, lightheadedness, and dizziness. (4) People who have gastroenteritis may be unable to keep water down without throwing it back up, or may find they are losing substantial amounts of fluid because of diarrhea.

The majority of people who face gastroenteritis can successfully treat themselves at home, with supportive care. Many cases, such as viral infection or allergic reactions to food, are able to recover completely without medical assistance. Dehydration can be avoided by sipping clear fluids. Once vomiting has stopped for at least four hours, the BRAT diet can be introduced. The BRAT diet stands for bananas, rice apple sauce and toast. Bland foods are easier on the digestive system, and allow an easy way to reintroduce foods back into the diet, even when the stomach is uncertain. While it is not very flavorful, nutrition and calories are important to recovering from being ill, and helps increase energy levels, powering the immune system.

Usage of the Word Flu
When doctors and other medical staff mention the term ‘flu’, they are directly referring to the influenza based respiratory condition. When they refer to the stomach virus, they might refer to it as ‘the stomach flu’ which makes it easier for patients to understand. Responsible medical staff that seeks to educate their patients will refer to it as ‘gastroenteritis’ or ‘stomach virus.’

Differentiating between the two standalone diagnoses should be simple. However, there are some patients who suffer from the influenza virus, and present with vomiting and diarrhea. This makes differentiating between the two a little more difficult. While these symptoms are not common, people with a sensitive stomach can experience them when they are suffering from the respiratory virus.

Now that you know, make sure the next time you tell someone you have the flu, you are specific about the illness you are experiencing.

Resources
(1) Cleveland Clinic: Gastroenteritis
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/gastroenteritis/hic_gastroenteritis.aspx

(2) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Viral Gastroenteritis
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/17/8/11-0824_article

(3) KidsHealth.org: What is the Flu?
http://kidshealth.org/kid/h1n1_center/flu-basics/flu.html

(4) MayoClinic.com: Dehydration
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/ds00561/dsection=symptoms

The Common Cold – What Your Body Goes Through

By , May 30, 2020 4:35 pm

The flu is caused by one of many strains of the influenza virus, the common cold is caused by a completely different virus, the rhinovirus. The symptoms of the common cold include an overall feeling of being unwell, mild headache, congestion, sore throat, coughing and at times, a low-grade fever. The rhinovirus spread thorough the population the same way the flu virus spreads, through infected respiratory secretions being expelled into the air. This means that every time someone who is infected sneezes or coughs into their hand, they can spread the virus to the next person or thing they touch.

When you touch an item that has been infected and then touch your nose, eyes, or mouth, you contract the virus. This can be true if you touch any item that has not been sanitized since it was touched by an infected person. While the virus is typically contracted by touching something that has been infected, it can also be spread by an infected person sneezing into the air.

It becomes easier to catch the cold virus, when their immune system is low. By not taking care of their immune system, you can put yourself at risk for developing a higher viral load before symptoms develop, making you sicker than you normally would have been if your immune system was functioning at maximum capacity. This can be affected by a large number of factors in a person’s life.

Factors That Compromise Immune Health
The primary factor that can affect a person’s immune system, and its ability to fight off the cold virus, is a preexisting medical condition. Conditions that pose the most risk are asthma, diabetes, heart disease, HIV, and AIDS.

A secondary factor is the amount of rest a person gets. If a person does not get enough rest, their body is not able to regenerate itself from the damage caused by the previous day. The immune system becomes depressed, and fighting off illness, viruses, and bacterial infections becomes more difficult. The body is also less capable of filtering out and eliminating environmental toxins and waste.

Consuming sugar can significantly depress the immune system as much as not getting enough nutrients. Consuming simple sugars can decrease the effectiveness of the immune system for up to six hours after consumption has stopped.

By ensuring that proper nutrition is obtained and all vitamins, minerals, and dietary needs have been met. Without meeting the basic criteria of nutrition, the human body sufferers overall poor nutrition.

The Rhinovirus and the Human Body
The University of Calgary scientists in Canada were able to confirm in 2008 that the rhinovirus does not cause symptoms. The symptoms experienced are caused by the body’s response to the virus being present. There are more than 100 strains of the rhinovirus, all of which can cause the common cold. However, the human right of virus is the major cause. Research studies published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine was the first-time scientists collaboratively reviewed genetic changes in the common cold virus.

The rhinovirus is a significant cause of developing the common cold, it is also an important pathogen that causes asthma and COPD. For example, researchers have determined that children who suffer from the rhinovirus, and who suffer from wheezing episodes related to it in early life, are the same children who are most likely to develop asthma at some point in their life.

Symptoms of the Rhinovirus
Symptoms of the rhinovirus appear between one to three days after coming into contact with the virus. The first symptom is typically the feeling of burning in the throat or the nose. Shortly after this symptom appears, sufferers develop runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Initially, the nasal secretions look like sandy water. However, as the virus progresses, sufferers become more sick and the mucus becomes darker. It used to be thought that dark colored mucus, or yellowish mucus meant that a bacterial infection had developed. However, research has proven this is not the case.

Some people with the rhinovirus develop a moderate cough, and patients who have asthma may suddenly find they have less control over their symptoms. The majority of cases do not present with a fever. However, some cases do develop a low-grade fever, usually less than 100 degrees F. The symptoms typically fade away over the first three days, and congestion is typically gone after one week.

During the initial three days of a cold, the affected person is contagious. It is best to avoid going out to prevent spreading the virus to others. There are some cases where a cold progresses into something more, most cases where a cold progresses into more, the result is a sinus infection. Visiting a doctor and having nasal swabs tested can determine exactly what illness you have. Other conditions that may develop out of a common cold include bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia, sinusitis, or worsening asthma symptoms.

In children, colds are typically a precursor to an ear infection. This is because during a cold, fluid drainage can seep behind the eardrum and make it more likely that they could develop a bacterial infection.

In the scope of things, prevention of a cold is a lot easier than suffering through one. You can reduce your risk of developing a cold by avoiding second hand smoke and unnecessary antibiotics. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and get at least eight hours of rest each day. Eating yogurt can also help prevent contracting the rhinovirus. Make sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day to get rid of any unwanted bacteria and viruses that you have come into contact.

Herbal Remedies for the Flu

By , May 26, 2020 3:31 am

Influenza is a virus that has always struck fear in the hearts of people. Between 1918 and 1919, more than 20 million people lost their lives because of the influenza virus, and the serious complications it can cause. The primary cause of these the deaths between 1918 and 1919 were actually caused by the virus weakening the immune system, allowing a secondary infection to creep in.

Even though most people are able to fight off the flu with a properly maintained immune system, lack of publication surrounding boosting the immune system, and the methods in which the virus is transmitted. The lack of knowledge surrounding the virus allowed it to spread quickly without any precautions, which proved to be deadly.

What Is Influenza and Who is At Greater Risk?
Influenza, commonly referred to as the seasonal flu, is a virus spread through secretions originating in the respiratory system. Typically, the virus runs its course and is cleared from the body within one or two weeks. It comes with a variety of unpleasant symptoms, like fever, chills, aches, pains, mild to moderate headache, backaches, and severe fatigue.

People who are at higher risk for developing complications from the flu virus typically have a preexisting medical condition that reduces the effectiveness of their immunes system. Conditions like asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and AIDS are at a much greater risk of developing secondary bacterial conditions related to the virus than the average person between the age of five to 65-years-old.

What to Expect from The Flu?
Most people who contract the flu find it extremely irritating and uncomfortable, but the symptoms typically resolve on their own. The most effective way to treat the flu is through preventative measures, like following universal sanitary precautions. This involves eating right, keep the immune system healthy, regular hand washing, and not touching the eyes, ears, or nose. Good hygiene goes a long way in preventing a person from contracting the flu virus.

Fighting Back Against the Flu Virus
If a person does get the flu, there are many powerful, herbal home remedies capable of decreasing the severity of symptoms, and helping the body fight the condition faster.

Vitamin C
Scientific research has determined that taking a vitamin C supplement, in the form of ascorbic acid is able to boost the immune system, which increases the number of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are the immune cells. They are the cells that combat the viral cells one on one. Therefore, ensuring that your body has the power to create cells to replace the ones that died in battle is extremely important.

Vitamin C supplements can easily be purchased at a local grocery store, health food store, pharmacy, and even at a Family Dollar Store. They come in many forms, such as compressed powder, capsule, chewable, and even a powder that can be mixed into your drink.

Zinc
Adding a Multivitamin that contains zinc can be a great help to the human immune system. If a person does not want to take a multivitamin, or their current multivitamin does not contain an adequate amount of zinc, zinc lozenges can be purchased at many of the same locations vitamin C is found. If zinc lozenges are started when the initial symptoms begin, the severity of symptoms, and the length of suffering from the illness is decreased.

While it is important to be careful, and every person should educate themselves on the symptoms of zinc toxicity, it is possible for zinc lozenges to provide a level of prophylactic barrier during the season where the flu is most common. Since there is a risk of developing zinc toxicity, it is important that individuals only use zinc lozenges if they are exposed to people who may be carrying the influenza virus. (1)

Garlic
Garlic is an herb found in most kitchens around the world. Garlic is considered a miracle herb because it is proven to decrease the presence and growth of viruses that are already inside the human body. It also provides antibacterial properties, which can help prevent a secondary bacterial infection in those already infected with the flu virus. If one would like a more potent option for ingesting garlic, or simply does not like the flavor, garlic capsules area available at pharmacies, health food stores, and online. (2)

Herbal Teas
When a person is sick, there are many benefits to drinking herbal tea. The heat of the tea helps relieve aches and pains, the steam helps break up congestion and soothe a sore throat, and the ingredients can help fight the flu virus from the inside out.

Combine 1 teaspoon grated Ginger root, 1 teaspoon Bayberry Bark, and ½ teaspoon cayenne powder. Mix into a mug of boiling water. Sip throughout the day.

Cats Claw
Cats claw has been scientifically researched and is proven to shorten the length of time a person suffers from flu symptoms. It also has the ability to improve the way a person feels while they are ill, allowing the body a better chance to fight the virus. When mixed with Echinacea, it has the power to improve the body’s immune system, preventing the virus from replicating. (3)

Elderberries
Research into elderberries have shown that it has significant antiviral properties. It has the ability to prevent the virus from replicating inside the human body, reducing the severity of symptoms. The research completed was based on black elderberries, and was isolated to a product called Sambucol, which can be purchased online. (4)

Anise and Beneset
Anise is a very potent herb which has been proven to stimulate the production of mucus in the lungs and throat. Beneset is a helpful expectorant. When combined, the two herbs can allow the body to utilize mucus production to push the virus out of the body.

Choosing Herbs Carefully
It is important for each and every person to choose the herbs they use carefully, especially when they are ill. Consult with an herbalist, and read up on uses of herbs, safety, and each product you are considering.

It is extremely important that you consult your doctor or a pharmacist if you are on medication, or if you have a preexisting health condition. Some medical conditions can cause adverse reactions when herbs are ingested. The primary conditions that react to herb are diabetes, asthma, and pregnancy.

Do not assume that since something is herbal, it is automatically safe. Herbs do have medical value, some react positively in the body and others react negatively in the body.

Resources

(1) University of Maryland Medical Center: Influenza
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/influenza-000062.htm

(2) Microbes and Infection: Antimicrobial Properties of Allicin from Garlic
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10594976

(3) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Cat’s Claw
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/catclaw

(4) European Cytokine Network: The Effect of Sambucol, a Black Elderberry-Based, Natural Product, on the Production of Human Cytokines: I. Inflammatory Cytokines
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11399518

Natural Cold Cures

By , May 21, 2020 2:05 pm

The common cold is an all too familiar problem. It has its own season to wreak havoc in communities around the world, which says something dramatic about the way people regard it. The average person catches between two and four colds per calendar year, depending on their health an immune system strength.

The common cold is a sneaky little virus. We come into contact with it on a daily basis, it has a three-day incubation period after we come into contact with it, so we are always curious as to whether the guy behind us in the grocery store sneezed his germ far enough to infect us.

On day three we are blindsided by a runny nose, watery eyes, cough, congestions, and a nagging headache. Sometimes it comes with a low-grade fever, and we begin wondering whether it is a cold, a sinus infection, or the flu. (1)

Steps for Slowing the Common Cold
After coming into contact with someone who has the common cold, it is possible to slow, stop, or eliminate the potential of developing symptoms of a cold. If you are unsuccessful in catching the possibility of contracting it, the steps can still be followed when the initial symptoms rear their ugly head.

The first thing you must do is take time to rest. While resting, the body is able to heal itself faster than if you are up and moving around. It helps boost the immune system, which can help fight the cold virus, and help you feel better faster. If you don’t think you can take the time to rest, consider how many days you will be functioning at less than your best by suffering with the cold. A few days in bed will save you over a week of misery.

Second, you need to consider your current nutrition. Even if it is not cold season, maintaining your nutrition year-round will help you to fight the common cold, and the flu, when their seasons come around. Ensure that you are always taking in the right amount of vitamins and minerals, and that your overall health is good. Eating whole foods, and avoiding processed foods, is the best place to start.

If you already have a cold, or you are trying to prevent developing a cold, blowing your nose regularly can help you to expel viral particles. The evidence surrounding standard saline is still up in the air. However, using saline nasal spray can reduce the viral load trapped in your nose. When you do blow your nose, avoid blowing too hard. Blowing your nose hard not only causes your ears to hurt, it can also cause some of the viral particles to blow back up into your sinuses. (2, 3)

Do you remember when your mom used to tell you that gargling with salt water can provide relief for your sore throat? Scientific research has snow that gargling with salt water can help prevent a cold, and reduce the duration you have a cold by killing off the viral load breeding in the back of your throat.

Herbal Remedies for the Common Cold
If you are a fan of herbal remedies, you will love these little tips. Simple additions to what you are already doing can cut the time you suffer with a cold in half.

Herbal Tea
If your throat is sore, you can add lemon juice and honey to your salt water, it will reduce the tickle that causes you to cough. You can also gargle with a tea containing tannin. Keep in mind, you should never provide honey to a child that is under 1 year of age, it can prove dangerous or even fatal. (4)

Hot Liquids
Consuming hot liquids can help kill the cold virus, and reduce symptoms of the common cold. Hot liquids can reduce congestion, prevent dehydration, soothe your nose, and soothe your throat. If you need further relief, taking a steamy shower can help with these problems as well. It can also help you to relieve the achiness in your muscles.

Avoid Dairy and Sugar
Avoid dairy and sugar when you are not feeling well. Simple sugars can suppress the immune system response for up to six hours after you stop drinking or eating it. Dairy products cause mucus to become thicker, and make it more difficult to expel. (5)

Hot Tea
Drinking hot tea will help relieve most of the symptoms experienced during the common cold. It will also help fight the viral load, and get you back on your feet quicker. If you would like to increase the power of your tea, adding grated ginger, lemon, and hone can provide relief from symptoms, and help fight the viral load in your body.

Garlic and Cayenne Pepper
Adding crushed garlic, or ground cayenne pepper to your tea can also help fight the viral load. Garlic and cayenne pepper both have antiviral and antibacterial components. They both have been proven to reduce the severity of symptoms, including reducing fever.

Zinc Lozenges
Zinc lozenges can be purchased at grocery stores, pharmacies, and online. Sucking on a zinc lozenge as soon as cold symptoms strike can dramatically reduce the duration of your illness. They are effective in preventing the replication of the common cold virus, and they can prevent it from spreading further than it already has. (6, 7)

Comfort
By propping your head up with an extra pillow, you can assist your nasal passages in draining. It can also keep your nasal passages from becoming impacted while you sleep. If sleeping with an extra pillow is awkward, adding height underneath your mattress, and providing a more gradual slope you may gain more comfort. You do not have to increase the angle by much, but a small slope is enough to help your sinuses drain instead of drying out with mucus in them.

Make sure to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated, gargling with salt water, and drinking warm beverages will help you fight the uncomfortable symptoms associated with the common cold, and make your illness more bearable.

Resources
(1) MayoClinic.com: Common Cold
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/home/ovc-20199807

(2) Archives of Family Medicine: A Clinical Trial of Hypertonic Saline Nasal Spray in Subjects with the Common Cold or Rhinosinusitis
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9443697

(3) University of Maryland Medical Center: Sinus Headache
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/sinus-headache-000073.htm

(4) American Association of Retired Person: Mom Was Right- Gargling Helps
http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-10-2010/gargling_does_help.html

(5) MayoClinic.com: I’ve heard that you shouldn’t drink milk when you have a cold because it increases phlegm. Is this true?
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/phlegm/AN01455

(6) University of Helsinki: Zinc Lozenges May Shorten Common Cold Duration
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110726092948.htm

(7) Medical Hypotheses: Zinc Lozenges as Cure for the Common Cold – A Review and Hypothesis
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19906491

The Flu – What Is It Really?

By , May 17, 2020 1:38 am

For one to completely understand how the flu behaves, they must develop a basic understanding of the difference between a bacterium and a virus. They are both tiny germs capable of invading the human body. Because of their genetic makeup, they are capable of creating different symptoms in response to the way the body reacts to them. Some of the symptoms they create are caused by changes they make to the body on a cellular level.

Over the last 50 years, scientists have developed a thorough system to fight the growth of bacteria by developing antibiotics. It was originally thought that antibiotics would have an effect on viral infections. However, research has shown that taking antibiotics while one is infected by a virus could be deeply detrimental to their health. They not only fail to treat the viral infection, but they also increase the risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection. (1, 2)

The flu is a viral illness that is contracted from contact with a person who is infected, or by coming into contact with unwashed, infected surfaces. After the virus moves into the body, it lives in the back of the throat. Here, it multiples until it reaches a viral load where it can successfully affect its host.

You may notice that the way the virus is transmitted, and its associated mechanisms are similar to those of the common cold. While this may be true, the flu is not the same as a cold, not even on a genetic level. They originate from completely separate viruses, and they mutate in very different rates and methods.

It is true that the common cold and the flu share many of the same symptoms. The common cold will cause an unpleasant, but mild set of symptoms. The flu, on the other hand, causes more severe symptoms and is more likely to cause serious, possibly life threatening complications.

What Class of Virus is The Flu?
The flu is categorized as a contagious viral illness affecting the respiratory system. Depending on the strain of the virus, and the immune system of its host, it will cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe. At times, the severe effects it can have on the human body can be fatal, especially if it is not treated by qualified medical professionals.

Because of the potential for developing severe, life-threatening complications, the CDC recommends that people take charge of their own health care and take the right steps to prevent contracting the flu virus. Prevention can be as simple as getting a flu shot every year and following proper health and safety precautions, like washing your hands after touching things, or eating.

Statistics show that between 5% and 20% of the American population contract the flu each year. Unfortunately, out of the people who do not receive the vaccine on an annual basis, 360 people die from flu related complications, or the severity of their symptoms. To make this statistic even more sad, the majority of the fatalities are in children, elderly, and those who are immune compromised. The subsection of the immune compromised population most affected are asthmatics, diabetics, and people with heart disease. (3)

Fortunately, scientists are constantly looking for ways to better map out the methods in which the flu transmits from one person to another, and the way the virus grows once it does enter the body. Because of their breakthroughs, they are able to provide new information to the public constantly by utilizing the media. Recently, scientific goals have been focused on natural products people can successfully use to prevent contracting the flu, and treat the virus once they have developed symptoms.

What Symptoms Are Experienced with the Flu?
People who do contract the flu will suffer from unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can range from high fevers, chills, muscle aches and pains, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose, fatigue, and a dry cough. While these are the most common symptoms, others may experience additional symptoms, like stomach aches, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea. While these additional symptoms are possible in any case, they are more likely to manifest in children than in adults.

People who suffer from a severe case of the flu may experience more severe symptoms. They may develop bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, painful ear infections, and possible dehydration. These bacterial invasions are typically caused by a weakened immune system trying to fight off the virus, and accidentally allowing bacteria to infiltrate the body.

Where Did the Flu Get Its Name?
The flu received its name as an abbreviation of the virus causing the illness, influenza. The flu is actually a group of respiratory diseases caused by infection by the influenza A. or influenza B. viruses. Both viruses are more active in the winter months, and in the cooler, early part of spring. This pattern has been mapped out scientifically, which makes it easier for medical providers to organize prevention and treatment methods for individuals, and groups of individuals.

This scientific research has also pinned down various methods people unknowingly reduce their risk of contracting the virus. For example, people who spend more time outside and eat a diet that allows them to take in high amounts of vitamin D directly from being exposed to sunshine during the winter and early spring, have a much lower risk for contracting the flu virus in the event they are exposed to it. (4, 5, 6)

How to Know If You Have the Flu
The common cold and the flu virus usually cycle around communities at the same time. The symptoms of both viruses can be very similar, but the symptoms experienced with the flu are a lot worse than the common cold can cause. The common cold will drag you down and make you miserable. The flu will make you miserable to the point where you cannot even drag yourself out of bed.

To date, science has tracked down more than one-hundred strains of the cold virus. Most of these viruses do not mutate past their original form, so the strains are easy to track. The flu virus is much more difficult to track down because new strains evolve every couple of years, which makes vaccinating difficult.

Because the strains of flu virus change every few years vaccines must change with them. Developing these vaccines can be extremely difficult because scientists are not able to anticipate exactly what genetic mutations will take place with the flu virus. Because of this, all vaccines are developed using live samples from the previous year’s flu outbreak, which leaves people open to developing a mild case of the virus, even if they have been vaccinated.

How Does the Flu Virus Spread?
The flu virus spreads from one person to another through infected respiratory secretions. This means that any fluid originating in the mouth or nose could be infected during flu season. These secretions are typically released when someone sneezes or coughs without using the right precautions. Because the flu virus is easy to transmit from person to person, any surface these secretions come into contact with can be infected, and become an object of transmission.

Because the virus is easy to transmit, people who live in close quarters are at higher risk for contracting the virus. Classrooms, college dorms, hospitals, nursing homes, and office buildings are prime locations to get sick.

Something as simple as coughing into one’s hand, sneezing without covering their mouth and nose, or did not wash their hands before touching services can leave others at risk. Once the surface is infected, all a person must do is touch the surface and then touch near their mouth, near their nose, or anywhere on their face. Even if one touches a doorknob and later rubs their eyes, they are exposing themselves to a hearty dose of the virus.

After being exposed, the virus takes between 24-hours to four days to incubate before the person begins to show symptoms.
The flu virus typically lasts between one to two weeks. Treatment is symptom management and immune support. The majority of people who contract the flu find that their immune system is able to fight it off and heal their body without medical care. However, the body requires plenty of fluids, a lot of rest, medications for fever, and proper nutrition. One should never follow the old wife’s tale of “feed a cold, starve a fever” as it has no scientific basis. In order to properly heal, the body needs plenty of calories and an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals to fight off a virus.

Resources:
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work
http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/know-and-do.html

(2) MayoClinic.com: Antibiotics: Misuse Puts You and Others At Risk
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antibiotics/FL00075

(3) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) and Flu Vaccine
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

(4) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren
http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/03/10/ajcn.2009.29094.abstract

(5) Mercola.com: The vitamin Which Can Cut Your Flu Risk Nearly in Half
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/14/study-shows-vitamin-d-cuts-flu-by-nearly-50.aspx

(6) The Vitamin D Council: H1N1 Flu and Vitamin D
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/news-archive/2009/h1n1-flu-and-vitamin-d/

Mexican Flu

By , May 12, 2020 12:51 pm

In 2009, Mexico City faced an outbreak of a flu virus. A panic shadowed over the public and the local media. Their greatest fear was that a new pandemic worthy flu was emerging in their country. Researchers identified the virus as the swine flu, which was later renamed H1N1 virus.

The majority of the people affected in Mexico were adults that were young and healthy, between the ages of three-years-old and 60-years-old. Researchers were able to determine that people who were over the age of 60 already had antibodies to this flu virus, which means they had previously been exposed to the strain that was wreaking havoc through Mexico. (1, 2)

The US public health departments were not aware of the H1N1 outbreak that was growing in Mexico City until after the country had started establishing protective measures for the sake of their population, and to prevent the disease from spreading outside of Mexican boarders. While Mexico City was facing an outbreak, health officials in Southern California were investigating mild cases of the illness.

Officials were investigating what illness was spreading rapidly, while the country was still recovering from the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. American health officials were also dealing with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the problems surrounding bird flu (H5N1) that was taking off in Asia, but constantly threatening to cross the ocean. Given the sudden rush of events, communication between all countries was lacking, but was opening back up. However, in the case of the H1N1 flu, communication was severely delayed.

Today, the H1N1 strain of the flu virus was considered to be a pandemic. The previous pandemic the world faced was in 1968, and was centered on the Hong Kong flu, which killed about one million people around the globe. While this out may seem severe, it in no way compares to the earth shattering 20 million people who died between 1918 and 1919 from influenza. This was partially because worldwide travel was not closely regulated and the utilization of closed air systems that were utilized in flight. This allowed the virus to spread easily from one country to another with nothing standing in its way.

Scientists and researchers had found a lot of ways in which a person can support their body through wide spread cases of the flu, and anticipated that even in the case of an unknown strain of the flu, the number of deaths would be a lot less than the pandemic faced in 1968.

The reason the virus was originally declared the swine flu is because researchers located a genetic mutation of a flu virus that affected pigs, birds and humans alike. There was a point in the pandemic when Israeli health officials filed formal request asking that the name of the pandemic be changed to “Mexican flu.” This was because the term “pigs” was offensive to people of Jewish and Muslim faith. However, further research showed that even though the majority of cases initially reported were in Mexico City, the origin of the virus was yet to be determined. It was openly stated that there was nothing particularly “Mexican” about the flu virus, so the request to rename it was denied. (3)

The last time a strain of swine flu appeared was in 1976. It caused 13 soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey to become ill. Eventually, one soldier fell victim and died of the disease. The federal government was in a panic and was preparing for a new pandemic. They immunized people around the country in mass numbers, but they halted efforts when the virus did not spread further, and a number of the people who were vaccinated developed a dangerous, rare neurological disorder.

In 2001, when the swine flu pandemic created widespread panic, the American government yet again prepared a vaccine for the H1N1 flu. The government provided a large blanket coverage to pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers who were tasked with creating a vaccine to protect the public. There was no time to properly research, or test the vaccine for safety. The blanket coverage provided by the government ensured that no criminal charges, or civil suits could be brought against them on any charges surrounding side effects caused by the H1N1 vaccine.

Resources

(1) ConsumerReports.org: Adults Over May Have Protection Against Swine Flu
http://news.consumerreports.org/health/2009/05/adults-over-60-may-have-protection-against-swine-flu-seasonal-vaccines-offer-no-help.html

(2) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Serum Cross-Reactive Antibody Response to a Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus After Vaccination with Seasonal Influenza Vaccine
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5819a1.htm

(3) University of Oxford: Swine Flu Origins Revealed
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090613063849.htm

Alternative Cures for the Flu

By , May 7, 2020 11:32 pm

There are hundreds of viral strains connected to both the cold and flu virus. The majority of these viral strains alter themselves genetically on a yearly basis, or every few years to survive in the world we have created with vaccines and medical treatment to reduce symptoms. Because they have adapted and learned to change with our efforts to fight them off, developing any type of traditional permanent cure is impossible.

One of the main reasons we are unable to develop a cure is because of the frivolous way antibiotics are created, and used in our society. Because we are unable to cure these viruses, we are forced to use the same treatments that our ancestors used, and update the methods as the viruses change. The medications that are available aim at shortening the amount of time we are forced to deal with the symptoms of the virus. Even using our best scientific efforts, statistics still show that between 10% and 35% of the American population will be affected by the flu virus on some level. This number varies depending on the strength and virulence of the flu virus, how many people are vaccinated that year, and the immunity level of the people in the community.

Even though the flu virus poses a threat to the population, there is no true need for a cure. The majority of cases resolve on their own and spontaneous recovery is common. Even with vaccination, it is still possible to contract a minor infection of the flu virus. Because of this, the primary focus of the community should be to use sanitation protocols to prevent contracting the flu virus. Vaccination and frequent hand washing can either prevent people from getting the flu, reduce the amount of treatment needed, and shorten the length of active symptoms should one contract it.

In closed in areas like homes, schools, dormitories, hospitals and nursing homes the virus can spread like wild fire. This is why the highest rate of infection is in children who fall into the age range of five-years-old to 18, college students, and the elderly. Adults who have a weak immune system, and those who have a compromised immune system are at higher risk as well. The most common medical conditions increasing the risk of contracting the flu are asthma, diabetes, cancer, and AIDS.

Antibiotics Make Treatment Difficult
It the last 30 days, over prescribing and over using antibiotics created a serious problem. It was once thought that antibiotics would have the power to treat bacterial infections and viral infections. Because of this, when someone presented with symptoms of an infection, a doctor would freely prescribe antibiotics without preforming expensive tests. Even after it was determined that antibiotics are not capable of treating viruses, doctors still prefer not to test infections to determine whether they are of bacterial or viral origin.

The way in which antibiotics are overused has led to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.(1) It has also dramatically sped up the rate that the influenza virus mutates. Over decades of doctors prescribing antibiotics in situations that turned out to be the flu, the virus still reacts as though it has been threatened. When it is exposed to an antibiotic, it mutates and replicates faster, practically disabling the immune system. When this happens, the person who is suffering from the flu is at much higher risk for developing a secondary bacterial infection, which can make them seriously ill.

The American public spends several billion dollars annually on over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. To top this off, in order to stay up to date with the changing nature of the flu virus, the pharmaceutical industry must come out with a new flu shot to help contain the most recent strains of the seasonal flu. Unfortunately, this vaccine is unable to prevent everyone from contracting the flu virus, because it was developed for the previous year’s flu, which has since mutated outside of the vaccine’s scope. This means it can only provide partial prevention, and the remaining responsibility falls into the category of personal protection.

Alternative Treatments for The Flu
Because people are becoming aware that vaccines are unable to completely protect them, there has been a massive effort by the public to avoid contracting the flu, reduce the number of symptoms experienced, and reduce the duration of time symptoms are experienced. This has lead people to search for alternative treatments for the flu that are not as invasive and are less toxic than manufactured methods. This is a great idea, especially considering that the best cure for the flu is prevention. It is far easier to prevent oneself from contracting the flu than it ever will be to cure it after they already have it.

Building the Immune System
Building a healthy, high-functioning immune system is the best defense for preventing viral and bacterial illnesses. Ensuring that one gets at least eight hours of sleep each night can boost the immune system, allow the body to fully regenerate, and allow it to fight off any infection they may have come into contact with is helpful.

It is also proven that reducing one’s sugar intake can be beneficial to building a healthy immune system as well. Even a teaspoon of processed, simple sugar can weaken the immune system for nearly six hours. Replacing simple sugars with complex sugars and unprocessed options reduces this risk. One can also fight their sweet tooth by turning down a scoop of ice cream in favor of a sweet organic fruit. (2)

Eating Healthy
When you truly think about it, we really are what we eat. This means that our diet and the foods we choose to have in our lives have a long-term impact on our immune system. Drinking as much water as we can each day can help flush out waste products and toxins that break down the immune system. It also helps clean out the kidneys, allows them to process out more waste, and improves the immune response.

Exercising Regularly
Exercising is one of the most important factors in maintaining overall health, immunity, strength, and wellbeing. Exercise is an amazing way to fight illnesses caused by invading bacteria and viruses. It helps maintain the flow in the lymph system, allows one to shed extra weight, and pushes toxins out of the body. When exercise takes places outside it can improve the intake of Vitamin D, and improves the circulation to all parts of the body. Since vitamin D plays a huge role in preventing the common cold, the flu virus, and other illnesses outside exercise is very beneficial. (3)

Vitamin Supplementation
Supplementing your diet with a high-quality multivitamin and vitamin C is crucial to preventing and fighting off the flu.

Vitamin C helps the body absorb vitamin D, and they also work alongside each other to increase the immune system strength. Not only can these vitamins decrease your risk of contracting the flu, it can also help reduce the amount of time one suffers from the illness.

Following Universal Precautions
It is important to avoid touching your face with one’s hands. One should definitely avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with one’s hands. This is because the flu virus is picked up by one’s hands and once they touch their face, they have put themselves at risk for contracting the flu virus.

Ensuring that one washes their hands after touching solid objects, touching other people, shaking hands, and after each trip to the bathroom can help prevent one from contracting the flu virus. It is not recommended for one to use antibacterial soaps. This is because it is proven to increase the risk of spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria through the community. Rather than using antibacterial soap, one should wash their hands under warm water using soap and friction for at least 90 seconds.

Reduce Stress
Reducing the amount of stress one experiences in life can be extremely valuable. While it is not possible to reduce all of the stress in one’s life, reducing it as much as possible is beneficial.

To deal with the stress one is unable to eliminate, practice deep breathing exercises, brisk walking, listening to music, and exercising regularly. Sometimes, learning to manage stress may involve eliminating certain people and situations that cause increased stress levels. After eliminating the stress from one’s life, one will feel better and be more capable of coping with stressors in their everyday life.

It may seem difficult to remove these stressors from one’s life, but after doing so, one realizes it is much more difficult to accommodate these things, and stress related illnesses are not worth the risk.

Decreasing Symptoms of the Flu
If one feels as though they are developing symptoms of the flu, they can decrease the severity of the symptoms, and shorten the duration that symptoms are present by following a few simple steps regularly throughout the course of one’s illness.

Once Symptoms Appear One Should:
• Gargle with a salt water mixture three to four times daily. This will help kill the flu virus, which is living and breeding in the back of one’s throat.

• Use an over-the-counter saline spray three to four times daily. Spray in each nostril. Blow the excess fluid out in a tissue, discard it and wash hands. This kills the live virus cells that are living and breeding in the nasal passages and sinuses.

• Use a Netti pot twice per day to flush the virus out of the sinus cavities, where it also lives and breeds.

• Take the recommended daily amount of vitamin C in divided into several doses. Make sure the brand of vitamin C taken is in the form of ascorbic acid. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on dosage.

• Take in plenty of fluids. Divide fluids into healthy portions of water, fresh vegetable juices, and fresh fruit juices. All of these fluids help flush toxins out of one’s body, provides necessary enzymes, decrease the amount of inflammation and pain experienced, and assist in flushing the viral cells out of the body.

• Taking zinc lozenges (4) can decrease the duration of both the cold and flu virus. Before taking a zinc supplement, one should educate themselves about the symptoms of zinc toxicity. Ensure that the lozenges are only sucked on, not chewed. If one finds the zinc lozenges make them nauseous, discontinue use as it is a symptom of zinc toxicity.

• One should ensure they take at least 20 minutes, twice each day, outside to be in the sunlight. This allows the body to absorb vitamin D from the sun, and manufacture even more inside of the cells. Vitamin D has been scientifically proven to decrease the duration of illnesses caused by bacterial and viral invasion.

• Boost the body’s ability to fight infections by adding garlic to one’s food. Garlic contains natural antibacterial and antiviral components that will fight alongside the immune system to get rid of the infection. (5)

• Add tea containing Echinacea to one’s daily regimen. When Echinacea is combined with garlic, the immune system receives much needed support in fighting off infections.

• Adding ginger in herbal tea form can decrease the duration of any viral infection. It is scientifically proven as a natural antiviral. It also provides pain relief, which is beneficial to one suffering from aches and pains from the flu. It is potent enough that physicians recommend it to patients suffering from arthritis pain. Ginger also reduces inflammation, which reduces flu associated joint pain, inflammation of mucous membranes, and assists in treating a sore throat. Ginger presents with a mild sedative effect, which helps in getting plenty of rest during the illness.

Even with scientific advancements traditional Western science and medicine is currently unable to provide a cure for the flu virus, and due to the ever-changing strains of the influenza virus may never be able to present a cure. The immune system of the average healthy person is perfectly capable of fighting off the flu virus within one to two weeks. However, there are those with weakened immune systems who are at risk for suffering from severe complications that can lead to hospitalization, and even death. If everyone makes an effort to improve their immune system, those who are immune compromised will not face as great of risk for complications.

(1) KidsHealth.org: The Danger of Antibiotic Overuse
http://kidshealth.org/parent/h1n1_center/h1n1_center_treatment/antibiotic_overuse.html

(2) Natural News: The Harmful Effect of Sugar and Choosing Healthy Alternatives
http://www.naturalnews.com/022692.html

(3) Dr. Mercola: The Vitamin Which Can Cut Your Flu Risk Nearly in Half
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/14/study-shows-vitamin-d-cuts-flu-by-nearly-50.aspx

(4) University of Maryland Medical Center: Influenza
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/influenza-000062.htm

(5) Microbes and Infection: Antimicrobial Properties of Allicin from Garlic
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10594976

Treating the Stomach Flu

By , May 3, 2020 10:29 am

The stomach flu may carry a name similar to the influenza virus, but the illness is not caused by the same viral infection as the flu. The condition also does not carry the same symptoms as the influenza virus. In truth, the medical term for the stomach flu is gastroenteritis, directly translated into inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. When talking to patients, doctors commonly refer to it as the norovirus. The treatment for the stomach flu is also different than what is provided for the influenza virus, better known as the seasonal flu.

Treatment for the stomach flu is based on the cause of the inflammation or irritation. Typically, treatment is limited to providing relief from diarrhea, vomiting and inflammation. At times, gastroenteritis can be caused by a food allergy. Other cases of the stomach flu are caused by bacterial infection, infection by parasites, or a contracted virus. (1)

If the specific case of gastroenteritis is attributed to an allergic reaction to a specific food, removing the food and providing adequate time for the GI tract to rest may be the best method of treatment. Gastroenteritis attributed to viruses do not have an available cure. Typically, treatment goals are centered on supporting the body through symptomatic treatment will allow the body the strength it requires to fight off the virus. For the majority of the population, a healthy immune system is fully capable of irradiating the virus in a time span of one to 10 days. (2)

Gastroenteritis that is caused by a parasite infection must be treated medically, by removing the infectious parasite completely from the GI system. Unfortunately, this type of gastroenteritis looks a lot like the other forms of the condition. Because of this, it may take up to two weeks to determine whether the condition is caused by a parasite. However, when all other possibilities have been ruled out and the condition is determined to be of parasitic origin, treatment is rather quick. (3)

Symptoms and Side Effects of the Stomach Flu
One of the unfortunate side effects is that gastroenteritis can wreak havoc on the body, and it can inflict a significant amount of damage. The primary side effect it poses to the body is dehydration. This is caused by the body’s inability to retain fluids, contributed to vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration poses significant risks to children and the elderly, who face a weakened immune system. Because of this, maintaining basic levels of hydration is extremely important. If fluids cannot be held down, and the person who is ill has not urinated for six hours, intravenous fluids may be necessary.

The good news is that the stomach flu can generally be treated at home without medical intervention. As long as the body responds quickly to fight off the cause, there really is not a reason to visit a primary care doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to make it well known that families who have young children, and especially those who have infants, should always have a supply of oral rehydration supplies. It is also recommended that antibiotics be avoided unless your physician has confirmed the infection is caused by a bacterium. (1)

If the symptoms of the stomach flu present primarily as diarrhea, it is important to compensate by increasing fluid intake. This will help to prevent dehydration. Using oral rehydration fluids that contain electrolytes can be consumed by children and adults. Infants should be given an oral rehydration fluid specifically made for infants.

Contrary to public belief, sports drinks do not replace lost vitamins, minerals, or nutrients. They can cause sugar overload, causing an increase in diarrhea and vomiting. It is recommended that people with gastroenteritis avoid them.
It is possible to settle the GI tract down by letting it rest for several hours without consuming food. If one of the symptoms is vomiting, sipping small amounts of clear liquids, sucking on ice, or sipping on a rehydration solution may prevent dehydration. By sipping in small amounts, one can reduce the risk of upsetting the stomach. The body is able to quickly absorb the smaller amounts of liquid, so they are less likely to trigger a vomiting reflex.

After vomiting has ceased for a minimum duration of four hours, one can gradually reintroduce soft, bland foods. Following the BRAT diet, one is more likely to be successful in reintroducing foods. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, apples and toast. One may also incorporate bland chicken broth, and possibly some bland beef broth. It is important to avoid all caffeine, dairy, and alcohol. Rest at this point is extremely important to regaining strength and fully recovering.

If the symptom of vomiting extends past a 12-hour period, the person stops urinating, or vomiting occurs more than six times in a period of two hours, medical attention may be necessary.

What Causes Vomiting
While it may feel as though the urge to vomit originates from the stomach, it actually does not. Nausea and vomiting is often triggered by a center in the brain, and is not controlled by the stomach. However, after the initial trigger to vomit is triggered by the brain, it is possible for a feedback loop to be triggered, which causes recurrent vomiting. Even after the virus has been completely cleared from the body, it is possible that the individual continues to vomit. Anti-nausea medications can be prescribed by a doctor, which are able to calm the brain and bring an end to the feedback loop causing the problem.

When You Should See a Doctor
Dehydration carries a list of symptoms, all of which should be taken seriously. The symptoms are excessive thirst, dark yellow urine, no urine production, dry mouth, extreme weakness, lethargy, lightheadedness, and dizziness. If these symptoms appear, treatment in the emergency room is necessary. Dehydration is a severe symptom in which the body is in dire need of fluids that are required for the body and various organ systems to function. Once the body has become dehydrated, fluids must be given to maintain vitality and life.

In cases of severe dehydration, an emergency room doctor may recommend a short period of hospitalization, or emergency room observation, so they can replace necessary fluids using an IV and provide necessary medication to stop the feedback loop that is triggering nausea and vomiting.

Resources
(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Viral Gastroenteritis
https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/

(2) Brown University Health Education: Stomach Flu
https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/health/services/promotion/

(3) Pediatric Annals: Parasitic Gastroenteritis
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7838606

The Swine Flu – What Is It?

By , April 28, 2020 9:19 pm

The flu, commonly referred to as the seasonal flu, is caused by a strain of the influenza virus. Just as research declared that maintaining a healthy diet and following through with good hygiene habits can help fight off the flu virus, the world was shocked by the emergence of a new strain of the flu virus. In April of 2009, the first case of the swine flu was diagnosed. The virus had scientists puzzled, they had never seen it before, and it was spreading from one person to the next at the same rate that the seasonal flu would. Since scientists and the public had never seen the virus, the world was in a panic.

The biggest concern in the scientific community, and in the public, was the possibility of the virus reaching the same levels as was suffered between the years of 1918 and 1919. Worldwide, more than 20 million people died as a result of the flu virus. The reason for this astronomical number of deaths is due to the lack of education on how the virus spread, and how building up the immune system could help fight the virus if they were to become infected.

Swine Flu
The swine flu, unlike the seasonal flu, was noticed by the World Health Organization (WHO), who declared on June 11, 2009 that a pandemic of the H1N1, or swine flu, was in the near future. (1)

Shortly after WHO announced the potential of an H1N1 pandemic, they mobilized resources in every community, put the pharmaceutical industry to work on finding a way to contain it, and brought businesses into the mix to help build funds to help low income areas. Because of the attention the swine flu drew from WHO, increasing fear and panic became a staple in every community. People canceled travel plans in masses, airlines and tourist locations suffered huge financial losses. The pharmaceutical industry was pushed to develop a vaccine, and thanks to new technology and the cooperation of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and WHO, they were able to produce a vaccine. Unfortunately, there was not time to test the vaccine or prove that was effective or safe.

The unbelievably rapid movement of the vaccine from creation to public use caused serious concern. Because of the risk posed by the H1N1 vaccine, pharmaceutical companies were provided a legal shield from any potential lawsuits that could result from possible unknown side effects that could be caused by the untested vaccine. This was marked as the first time in history that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) openly condoned using an untested medication for public use, in a situation where the patients it would be used on were not terminally ill, on what is referred to as the fast track. (2)

The Evolution of Understanding with H1N1 Flu
Originally, the virus was addressed as “swine flu” because genetic examination showed the virus DNA to be strikingly similar to the flu virus that typically only affects pigs. However, a more in-depth study of the virus showed that it is very different from the virus that affects pigs in North America. This particular virus contained two genes that originated in a virus that typically circulates in pigs living in Asia and Europe, and it also contained bird genes and human genes.

The H1N1 strain of the flu virus is very contagious. It spread across every country in the world, including large cities in the United States. A great relief came when it was released by the CDC that people who did fall victim to the virus were recovering without medical treatment, much like is expected when the seasonal flu breaks out.

By understanding that this flu virus, spread in the same manner as the flu people were already accustomed to seeing, panic decreased dramatically. Just like the seasonal flu, the virus is spread through respiratory secretions, and through touching objects that an infected person has come into contact with, and had not been sanitized. (3)

Just like the seasonal flu, it is very unlikely for a person to become infected with the same strain more than once, as long as they do not have a compromised immune system. The body is able to create antibodies by fighting off the virus. This means that the next time the virus comes by, the body is able to prevent it from making the person sick again.
Unfortunately, this still means that a person can be infected with the flu virus more than once. Annually, it is possible for a person to contract the H1N1 flu virus, and later contract the seasonal flu virus, because fighting each requires different antibodies.

Just like with the seasonal flu, there are groups of people at risk for developing serious, potentially life threatening complications. This is typically because of a preexisting medical condition, or age. Children under the age of 5, adults over 65, women who are pregnant, and anyone with a chronic medical condition that affects the immune system could develop complications, or develop a secondary infection. (4)

The CDC’s studies have shown that people younger than 60, and young children do not have antibodies against the H1N1 flu until they get it. However, more than 1/3 of adults who are over 60 do have antibodies, which means this is not the first time the H1N1 flu has been wide spread. However, the medical records of those under the age of 25 show that this subset of people experience more severe symptoms than other groups of people. This data is very different from what has been collected during seasonal flu outbreaks.

Swine Flu Prevention
Preventing the spread of the swine flu involves the same precautions already taken in preventing the seasonal flu. Washing hands with soap frequently throughout the day, using alcohol based hand sanitizer when water is not available, avoiding touching the face with unwashed hands, avoiding sick people, and sanitizing surfaces regularly all work to prevent the swine flu.

When Is Medical Attention Needed?
There are times with the swine flu when medical attention may be necessary. If someone has trouble breathing, is breathing rapidly, their skin turns bluish, they show signs of dehydration, the develop a high fever, rash, confusion, persistent vomiting, or chest pain, emergency care should be sought immediately.

There is no way to predetermine whether a person will suffer from mild symptoms, or severe symptoms. However, one can lessen the risk of developing severe symptoms by eating healthy, and maintaining the immune system. If the virus is contracted, supportive care, and symptom management can reduce the duration of the illness.

Resources

(1) American College Health Association: H1N1 Flu
http://www.acha.org/ACHA/Resources/Topics/Flu.aspx

(2) MSNBC.com: Legal Immunity Set for Swine Flu Vaccine Makers
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31971355/ns/health-cold_and_flu/t/legal-immunity-set-swine-flu-vaccine-makers/

(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Flu Spreads
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm

(4) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/highrisk.htm

Tamiflu

By , April 24, 2020 8:10 am

Even though Tamiflu is used frequently by people suffering from the flu, many people have not heard of this medication. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the seasonal flu. It was approved for adults and children who are at least one-year old. Since it was approved by the FDA, it has been the most prescribed medication to treat influenza. (1)

The manufacturer of Tamiflu advertises that in order for it to be effective, it must be taken for the first time within 48 hours of the first sign of flu symptoms. It is provided in capsule form for adults, and in a fruit flavored liquid for children. The typical duration of treatment involves taking Tamiflu twice per day for five days straight. Even though it is commonly provided to patients who are starting to show symptoms of the flu, it is also approved for preventing the contraction of the flu virus. (2)

In 2009, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) released a report stating that Tamiflu might not be as safe for treating the flu in children as originally conceived. Their report recommends that physicians limit prescribing Tamiflu to people who fall into the high-risk category, since the virus does not cause severe symptoms in all patients. (3, 4)

Tamiflu Is a Risky Medication
It might seem enticing to get a prescription medication to fight the effects of the flu virus, and even to prevent contracting the flu virus. However, there have been reports of serious, and potentially fatal side effects from taking the medication. These claims can be found in the BMJ article, which is making doctors weigh the risks and benefits a lot more carefully.

Tamiflu should not be used as a substitute for getting an annual flu shot. The medication cannot be used within two weeks of getting the vaccine, either through a shot or though the nasal vaccine. People who have kidney disease, heart problems, lung disease, any condition involving the brain, or a condition involving inflammation, should not use Tamiflu. Women who are pregnant should not use Tamiflu because it could cause significant health problems in an unborn baby. (5)

Tamiflu Claims a 19-Year-Old’s Eye Sight
In January of 2010, a massive amount of media coverage surrounded a 19-year-old woman who had recently taken Tamiflu and was blinded. The medication was prescribed by the National Health Services in Great Britain. Within 72-hours, the young woman had gone from suffering from the flu to being on life support in the hospital. The young woman suffered from two conditions, Stevens Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidural necrolysis. Doctors told her that the two conditions should resolve themselves after about 24-months, but there is no promise that her eyesight would ever return. (6)

Reports of Side Effects
Patients who have taken Tamiflu experience a wide array of scary side effects. The list itself is frightening:
• Hot flashes
• Dry mouth
• Buzzing in the body
• Anxiety
• Cold sweats
• Night sweats
• Stomach pain
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Numbness and tingling in extremities
• Lack of energy
• Dizziness
• Rapid heart rate
• Memory loss
• Strange, vivid dreams
• Hallucinations
• Delirium

Even patients who did not report these specific side effects have stated the side effects experienced from the time they took their first dose are worse than having the flu.

Claims from Tamiflu Manufacturers
The manufacturers of Tamiflu openly state that the purpose of the medication is solely to reduce the amount of time an individual suffers from flu symptoms. They also admit that the medication typically only reduces the duration of symptoms by 24-hours.

Since the medication only reduces the duration of symptoms by 24-hours, and it comes with a host of side effects, it is best to wait the symptoms out and utilize herbal methods for symptom relief, as long as you are otherwise in good health. The risks of taking the medication drastically outweighs any benefit that can be gained in a 24-hour period.

The Price of Tamiflu Might Come Out of Your Pocket
Tamiflu is a very expensive medication, and most insurance companies do not cover it. In August of 2009, the number of side effects being released in the media caused a significant amount of doubt to fall over Tamiflu. The majority of side effects experienced surrounded heart disorders and psychiatric disorders. The media also reported a large number of children who had taken the medication suffered from severe nausea, vivid nightmares, and many other reactions. (7)

Doctors in Great Britain have learned a great deal about the potential long-term side effects people can have after taking Tamiflu. Doctors realized that patients taking Tamiflu were at a greater risk for having a stroke. It also interacts with blood thinners, like warfarin. Considering that more over 600,000 people in Great Britain are already on a blood thinner, prescribing it is pointless. The recommendation is that Tamiflu should only be prescribed for people who are at high-risk of developing severe complications. However, Tamiflu interacts with the medications taken by the people who fall into these high-risk categories.

Resources

(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 2011-2012 Influenza Antiviral Medications
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/summary-clinicians.htm

(2) PubMed Health: Oseltamivir
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0011518/?report=details

(3) British Medical Journal Group Blog: Helen Macdonald on Side Effects, Tamiflu and the Swine Flu Hotline
http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2009/07/31/helen-macdonald-on-side-effects-tamiflu-and-the-swine-flu-hotline/

(4) The Guardian: Don’t Give Tamiflu or Relenza to Under-12s, Warns Researchers
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/10/children-tamiflu-harms-outweigh-benefits

(5) Drugs.com: Tamiflu
http://www.drugs.com/tamiflu.html

(6) Health Freedom Alliance: Girl, 19, Lft Battling Blindness After Taking Tamiflu
http://healthfreedoms.org/2010/01/22/girl-19-left-battling-blindness-after-taking-tamiflu-and-she-didnt-even-have-swine-flual/

(7) NHS Choices: Tamiflu Side Effects in Children
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/07July/Pages/Tamiflusideeffects.aspx

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