Health Spotlight: The Flu Shot
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that it’s definitely time to get your flu shot! We are just about in the full swing of flu season and taking precautions to prevent the flu is essential. Nearly 60% of the flu cases reported to the CDC during last flu season were people between 18 and 64. That figure proves even the healthiest can come down with the flu! Typically, younger children, the elderly and pregnant women are at a greater risk of getting the flu, but a large percentage of the so called ‘healthy’ population is reporting flu-like symptoms currently.
For those 65 and over, the federal health agency says a “one-two-three punch” is the best way to stay healthy all year long – the CDC recommends this age group be administered a high-dose flu shot, which gives stronger immune response and a greater protection against the flu. The flu can be a deadly illness, so all pregnant women should get the flu shot. The flu shot can be given in any trimester, but the sooner a new mom is vaccinated, the better for the baby.
Healthy Cold and Flu Tips from our Scientific Director, Jerry Hickey, R. Ph
How is the flu 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 land in your eye or get inhaled into your nose; or they get on your face and you touch your face and then touch your mouth, your eyes, or your nose. 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. 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 flu last on inanimate surfaces?
Flu viruses can last long enough outside of the human body to contribute to spreading infection. Studies have shown that flu viruses generally can survive on surfaces (such as phone receivers and doorknobs) between 2 to 8 hours depending on the environment. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water will help protect you from contracting the flu through touch. Alcohol wipes can help disinfect the hands and surfaces if there are infected people about.
What is the incubation period for the flu?
Once the flu 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 is about two to five days and this is referred to as the incubation period. When the symptoms are active at the peak of the infection is when you generally spread the flu because this is when you are sneezing and coughing.
For how long am I contagious?
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 flu shot and prescription antiviral drugs are there nutrients that help protect me from the flu?
Yes, research shows that the amino acid NAC, and that consuming Green Tea decrease the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections including flu (NAC and Green Tea) and cold viruses (Green Tea). Other nutrients support immune system function and may improve resistance; medicinal mushrooms, Astragalus herb, Nucleotides and Olive Leaf.