Colds and flu (influenza) affect an estimated 1 billion people in the U.S. each year. Influenza kills some 36,000 Americans annually, while 25,000-75,000 require hospital care. The rate of colds and flu increase from November to March as cold weather forces more people to stay indoors, increasing exposure to drier air conditions and to people already infected. (Colds and flu are caused by viruses, and viruses survive better in colder, drier weather with lower levels of humidity). The elderly, the sick, and children are especially vulnerable to the viruses that cause colds and flu.
Is It a Cold, or Is It The Flu?
How can you tell if your symptoms are a cold or the flu? While not everyone will have the same symptoms, here are common guidelines for cold and flu:
Fever: Rare with colds; common for flu, lasting for 3-4 days, with high temperatures (102-104°F).
Headache: Rare with colds; common with flu.
General aches and pains: Not serious with colds; common and severe with flu.
Fatigue, weakness: Mild with colds; May last up to 2-3 weeks with flu.
Extreme exhaustion: Unusual with colds; with flu, common and found to start early.
Stuffy nose: Common with colds; may appear be present with flu.
Sore throat: Common with colds; may appear with flu.
Chest discomfort, cough: With colds, mild to moderate discomfort possible; common and potentially severe with flu.
Cold symptoms rarely last longer than 1-2 weeks. Contrary to popular opinion, they are NOT caused by being in a draft. Allergies, stress (psychological or physical) and menstruation may contribute to susceptibility. Diets high in sugar or deficient in nutrients (vitamins and minerals) suppress the immune system and increase susceptibility. Colds are transmitted in various ways, including touching your eyes or nose after touching infectious respiratory fluids found on the skin, or by inhaling air-borne particles or droplets of infected liquid.
The flu starts out like a bad cold, but quickly worsens. Many symptoms, including high fever, headaches, muscle aches, and cough, are more dramatic. If untreated, flu can lead to more serious conditions, including dehydration and bacterial pneumonia, and can cause chronic medical conditions (congestive heart failure, asthma, diabetes) to worsen. Certain individuals — those 50 or older, health care workers, those with weakened immune systems, or conditions affecting the kidneys, lungs or heart — may be at higher risk. Children may also be susceptible to ear infections and sinus problems.
To defend against flu, you should follow many cold prevention steps, including hand-washing, not touching your eyes or nose, using tissues, and covering your mouth when coughing. The influenza virus can live on a plastic or metal surface for days, and can be caught by mere touching. It can also be caught by sick people sneezing or coughing.
Should You Get A Flu Shot?
Flu shots are recommended for people over 65 years of age, especially those with lung or heart conditions or cancer. Children may also benefit from vaccination. When the vaccine is well-matched to the virus, vaccines can decrease the rate of infection by 38-52%.
Flu Shots Alone Are Not The Answer
Flu shots are designed to protect us from 1 to 3 different viruses each season. Which viruses the vaccine protects from is based on an educated guess as to which viruses we will be exposed to. There are over 700 different strains of viruses that cause colds and flu; the vaccine will confer protection for one, two or three of these. Even when the vaccinations work, we are still at risk for contracting a cold or flu due to the other 698 viruses that we have NOT been vaccinated for!
What Can You Do To Foil Colds and Flu?
1.) Basic hygiene. Wash your hands often and be careful not to touch your eyes or nose. If possible, try to avoid being around sick people. If you’re already infected, cover your mouth when coughing and sneeze into a tissue which you should quickly throw away. Rubbing alcohol should be used to disinfect any surfaces that you come into contact with. If you have a cold or the flu, you’d do yourself and others a big favor by staying home from work.
2.) Basic good health practices.
I.) Multiple vitamin/mineral supplements. A number of placebo-controlled studies have shown that adults who consistently take a high potency vitamin/mineral supplement dramatically decrease their risk of infection. When supplemented individuals DO get sick, their symptoms tend to be milder and of shorter duration. These same studies have shown that the number of natural killer T cells, the “police” of the immune system, can be increased by up to 50% by supplementation.
“Once a Day” supplements (one or two tabs per day) were NOT found to increase immunity or confer protection. This is because the potencies of nutrients are too low in one or two tablets to be effective. In order to secure the virus-protective benefits of supplements, they should be taken in optimal (high potency) doses. This will typically be from 6 to 9 capsules or tablets per day.
II.) Adequate sleep and exercise. Lack of either sleep or exercise decreases immunity and increases susceptibility to viruses of every type.
3.) Prevention Specifics.
I.) Vitamin C. In over twenty scientific studies, vitamin C has been shown to protect from flu and cold viruses. In fact, the number of respiratory infections of all types (not just the flu) was decreased by 50% in the vitamin C supplemented group. As with multiple vitamins, the severity and duration of infection was milder in the supplemented group when they did contract a cold or flu. [NOTE: Maxi Multi’s contain 1,000mg of vitamin C when taken in 9-per-day recommended doses].
II.) Immune Support. Keep your immune system healthy on a daily basis with this superior formula of immune-enhancing herbs. High potencies of Astragalus, Ligustrum, and Echinacea in addition to a full spectrum of medicinal mushrooms and support nutrients increase natural immunity.
Cold and Flu “Kit” (What to do if you “catch” a virus anyway)
Have your cold and flu first aid remedies on hand before you need then. All remedial measures work best when they are started immediately at the first sign of symptoms. Besides, once you start feeling bad, that’s not the time you’ll want to run around town trying to find a remedy!
At The First sign of any infection:
I.) Immune Boost Liquid Tincture: “Fast Blast” for the Immune System. The immune system has a wide variety of different cells and functions to protect the body. This formula contains herbs to stimulate every aspect of immune function. Potent liquid tincture goes to work “lightning fast” to enhance immunity.
II.) B.A.M. (Broad Anti-microbial) Tincture: Herbal Antibiotic Formula. That’s right, we don’t know what’s wrong. It could be a fungus, bacteria, virus, mycoplasma – or any combination thereof – and this tincture gets serious with all of them. Take during an acute infection to put the “bad guys” in their place. A potent broad spectrum “anti-bug” formula designed for acute infections.
III.) Selenium: 800mcg per day in addition to the 200mcg in Maxi Multis. Continue for 10 days.
Also helpful: Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs for stimulating and boosting the immune system. It acts as an immune stimulant, immune modulator (balances the immune system), anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
For colds, nasal or lung congestion, bronchitis, pneumonia
I.) Bromelain: 2 capsules, 3 to 4 times per day between meals for acute infection, decrease to 1 cap, 3-4 times per day as condition resolves. Bromelain, a digestive enzyme from pineapple, acts to increase the effect of other immune cells by dissolving the mucous coat that bacteria use to “shield” themselves from the immune system. Some studies have shown it to be as effective as antibiotics for treatment of pneumonia, bronchitis, and dental, skin and kidney infection.
II.) Inspirol inhalant: this powerful herbal inhalant prevents respiratory infections from becoming more severe. it also opens the airways and improves breathing. Use for colds, flu, hay fever, sinusitis, coughs, congestion, and bronchitis.
Herbal Cough Elixer II : 1 tsp. every 1-2 hours as needed for cough.
For sore throat:
Throat Mist: Use every hour as needed for sore throat.
Renew Energy after Illness
Energy Rehab: Infections can weaken the body, drain energy, and prolong recovery time. This formula supports the body’s energy systems typically affected by any type of infection. Energy Rehab may be continued after the infection has passed to ensure complete energy and immune recovery.
An ounce of prevention will go a long way toward keeping you free from colds and flu this Winter.
Stay well and have Joyful Holidays!
Yours In Health,
Dr. Dana Myatt