by Joann Flora,
Acupressure, Nutrition Counseling, Qigong
October 09, 2002
2) Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that is transmitted by airborne droplets. It can occur as an isolated incident or an epidemic. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, body aches, cough, and general weakness that come on suddenly with chills and elevated temperature.
3) Virus is a parasitic microorganism smaller than bacteria. It requires a host cell for growth and replication. More than 200 viruses have been identified as causing disease in humans. Respiratory viruses produce symptoms such as colds and flu do.
As you can see, most of that which will make us ill this winter is a group of disorders that are viral in nature. There are no anti-viral medications to cure us if we become sick. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infection such as bacterial pneumonia. For the most part, treating the symptoms with clear fluids, rest, decongestants, analgesics, and antihistamines can be helpful. These disorders tend to run their course in three to ten days without medical intervention.
Prevention is really our best winter weapon against illness. Simple things such as hand washing, getting plenty of rest, adequate fluid intake, and staying away from sick people go a long way. We can also arm the immune system with colostrum (Transfer Factor), garlic, vitamin C, acupressure, ginseng, and echinacea (without goldenseal). Foods that are high in caffeine, simple carbohydrates, and sugar depress the immune system and should be avoided, as should mucus forming foods like dairy. Those at high risk may consider flu vaccines; they are not a guarantee of wellness, but may make a difference when it counts.
If you do become sick with a viral illness, carry the prevention thinking forward. Rest, fluids, immune support, and hand washing should continue. Stay home! Don't make others ill because you are too tough to let a cold get you down. Adding aroma therapy eucalyptus (congestion), tea tree oil (anti-infective, anti-viral), and bergamot (fever, lungs) can increase comfort. Echinacea with goldenseal (not longer than 10 days) is an immune aid. Aire (ear) candling can reduce pressure in the ears. Guaifenesin syrup thins mucus helping coughs to be more productive and sinuses to drain. Medicinal teas for colds are available to help you breathe. Over the counter medications can help with more severe symptoms and discomfort. Don't run to the doctor if you suspect a common cold or flu; they can't help you and you can overpopulate their schedule making it difficult for really sick people to get in. Insisting on a round of anitbiotics for viral conditions not only doesn't help, it can aid in the proliferation of drug resistant bacteria.
Be proactive in staying well or getting well this winter. It's well worth it!
Next time, we'll look at the health benefits of massage. If there is a subject you would like to read about, I welcome your requests.