Flu Spotlight: What Jerry Hickey, R.Ph Wants You to Know
As the weather starts to get colder and the days start to feel shorter, cold and flu season slowly begins to creep up on us. Here are some tips and information by Jerry Hickey, R. Ph.
How is the virus spread?
Usually the flu virus is spread through droplet infection – sneezing and coughing. Breathing in droplets expelled into the air by an infected person’s cough is the most common route. These droplets can get inhaled through your nose or land in your face or eyes, where you are almost sure to spread the virus by touch. Consciously avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth during flu season because germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you shake hands with a person who is coughing or sneezing, it would be a good idea to wash your hands with antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer. You can also get the flu from saliva when sharing cups, glasses, or other household objects used by a person who has the flu.
How long does the virus last on inanimate surfaces?
Flu viruses can last long enough outside of the human body to contribute to spreading infection. Studies have shown that viruses generally can survive on surfaces (such as phones and doorknobs) between 2 to 8 hours depending on the environment. Washing your hands frequently with an antibacterial soap and water will help protect you from contracting the flu through touch. Alcohol wipes and hand santizers can help disinfect the hands and surfaces if there are infected people about.
What is the incubation period?
Once the virus is introduced into your body from an infected person, the virus multiplies quietly in your body until you get symptoms of the disease which can be about two to five days later, referred to as the incubation period. When the symptoms are active at the peak of the infection, that is when you generally spread the flu because this is when you are actively sneezing and coughing.
For how long will I be contagious for?
Usually five to seven days for adults. Young children can be contagious for ten days to two weeks. Kids can also have diarrhea when they get the flu; something you usually don’t see in adults. According to the CDC, people with compromised (lowered) immune systems – such as people with AIDS or people taking drugs to prevent transplant rejection – can shed flu virus for weeks or months after infection.
Besides the shot and prescription antiviral drugs are there nutrients that help protect me?
Yes, research shows that the amino acid NAC, and consuming Green Tea may decrease the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections including the flu (NAC and Green Tea) and cold viruses (Green Tea). Other nutrients like medicinal mushrooms, Astragalus herb, Nucleotides and Olive Leaf can help support immune system function and may improve resistance.
The Real Killer – Pneumonia
We are moving into the cold and flu season and the CDC is urging many of us to get this season’s flu vaccine. The reason for this is a higher mortality rate connected to cold weather and the flu. Yet most individuals do not realize that pneumonia is the big killer and that many deaths related to the flu actually occur because of a concomitant or secondary pneumonia infection.
Unfortunately in many recent seasons the best guess by experts has not always targeted the strains of influenza reaching our shores and spreading infection and although immunized, infection can still occur. The great news is that there is strong preventative action you can take to protect yourself from lung infection aka pneumonia – the real killer.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination (PPV) stimulates resistance to 23 out of 80 pneumococcal bacteria; the vast majority of pneumonia infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcal bacteria. All adults over the age of 65 are candidates for the injection and it is usually given around September but it is not too late. Usually one dose of PPV is all that is needed. Yet in some circumstances a second shot is recommended for those over 65 who had their first dose when they were under 65, if five or more years have passed since the first dose.
For more information on PPV, contact the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO, 1-800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov.