2005-02-01

Health: Coping with Type-A Influenza Virus

'The Influenza Season' is in 'full throttle' and if this year's 'vintage' comes your way, things could get 'very nasty'.
'This is an unpleasant, "Type-A 'flu virus", which is considered worse than the "Type-B virus"', says Mr.John Oxford, a professor of virology at 'The London Queen Mary School of Medicine'.
This 'strain' of 'influenza' virus originated in China's Fujian province and has already proved itself a 'force to be reckoned with'.
'This "strain" showed it had "some punch" when several young children died after catching it last winter', Mr.Oxford says. 'The "good news" is that this year, "the Fujian strain", along with the "Shanghai" and "New Caledonia" "strains" of "influenza", is included in "the 'flu" vaccine -- so vaccination will afford a more direct form of protection than the "jab" offered last year'.
So how do you protect yourself and, if you 'catch it', what can you do? Is it Too Late To Be 'Immunised'? No. It takes about ten days for your body to start producing the 'antibodies' to the 'influenza vaccine' (possibly even less, advises Mr.Oxford, if you have been 'immunised' before) so you will have protection within a fortnight of 'immunisation'. You qualify for no-cost 'immunisation' -- which should be done through your GP -- if you are over 65 or in one of the 'at risk' groups, which includes those suffering from 'asthma', 'kidney disease', 'diabetes', 'auto-immune conditions' and 'heart disease'. The 'immunisation' injection can also be given to babies in the 'at-risk' groups as long as they are over the age of six months. 'The Chief Medical Officer' has also recommended this year that healthcare workers should be 'immunised'. For anyone outside these groups, some private physicians and health clinics are still offering 'immunisation injections' for around 30_GBP, and your own GP practice should be able to refer to you to a reputable practitioner. High street retail pharmacy 'chain', 'Boots' no longer offers 'immunisation' injections. Is it really worth bothering with an 'influenza immunisation' injection? While 'influenza' can lead to complications (such as 'bronchitis' or 'secondary bacterial pneumonia') -- which can result in death for people in the 'at risk' groups -- it is unpleasant but not usually 'life-threatening' for anyone in normal health. It may well be worth having immunisation, however: in years like this, when there is a good match between the vaccine and the 'strain' of 'influenza'in circulation, immunisation injections are 70-80 per cent effective, and if you do 'catch' 'influenza' after 'immunisation', it is likely to be much milder than if you hadn't had the injection. How else can I avoid catching the 'influenza' virus? 'Influenza' viruses are highly 'contagious' and are easily 'passed on' by breathing in tiny droplets of moisture from the breath of infected people. 'Influenza' takes two or three days to 'incubate', and a sufferer can 'pass on' the virus just the day before their symptoms appear.
'Personal hygiene is very important in stopping the spread of 'flu', says Mr.Oxford. 'Cover your nose or mouth when you sneeze (or cough), and wash your hands frequently'.
Keep your 'immune system' strong and you'll stand a better chance of beating off 'bugs'. Eat properly; poor nutrition is the main cause of a weakened immune system. Have plenty of fruit containing vitamin-C (blueberries and kiwi fruit are good choices) -- both to 'boost immunity' and to help you recover should you fall ill; the body's levels of vitamin-C 'tumble' when you have a virus. Other steps which can help include:
  • Cold showers: Scientific studies have now backed up what 'naturopaths' have been saying for years -- that taking a cold shower bath every day can greatly improve your 'immunity to viruses'. The theory goes that the shock of the cold water stimulates the body into warming itself up -- raising its core temperature -- which destroys 'common cold' and 'influenza' viruses. The same study concluded that it can shorten the duration of an infection, too.
  • Zinc: Eat foods containing the zinc metal; it is the main nutrient protecting 'the immune system', and helps 'white blood cells' resist infection. Foods which contain zinc include eggs, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts, seafood, meat and oysters.
  • Hemp seed: This appears to have a r�le in preventing 'upper-respiratory-tract' infections; Finnish researchers found that people who took two tablespoons of hemp seed oil a day for dry skin also suffered less from 'influenza' and 'common colds'. 'Good Oil' -- a hemp seed oil brand, can be found in some supermarkets.
What about the New Anti-Influenza Drugs? There has been an increasing focus on 'antiviral' drugs such as 'Oseltamivir' ('Tamiflu') and 'Zanamivir' ('Relenza') which are known as 'Neuraminidase Inhibitors' (NIs). Neuraminidase is the mushroom spike that sits on the outside of the 'influenza' virus, and these drugs block its function. They can be used both 'therapeutically' -- to help cure 'influenza' -- or 'prophylactically' -- to prevent the disease developing. The drugs are only available through GPs for people in the 'at-risk' groups (see above). They also need to be taken within 36 hours of the symptoms of 'influenza' developing. So, if you think you may need them, move fast at the first signs. What else Can I Do If I Get Influenza? 'Influenza' is a virus, so it will have to 'run its course' and there is little you can do to make your body deal with it more swiftly. However, the 'symptoms' can be treated:
  • Painkillers: Over-the-counter medicines containing 'Paracetamol' (or, for adults, 'Aspirin') will help to relieve symptoms.
  • Decongestants: 'Pseudoephedrine' is one of the most effective 'decongestant' ingredients available in over-the-counter medicines and usually comes in a 'non-drowsy' version. For something which is easy to take, try 'Boots'' 'Direct Dose Cold & Flu Relief granules' at 4.15_GBP for ten sachets. For pregnant women who are avoiding drug treatments, seawater-based nasal sprays such as 'Sterimar' can relieve blocked and stuffy noses (5.99_GBP from 'Boots').
  • Water: Drinking lots is vital, as keeping your body 'hydrated' helps it to deal with illness better by removing the 'toxins' and byproducts of the viruses. If you are suffering from a high fever which is making you sweat, it is important to keep drinking.
  • Garlic: This has strong antiviral properties thanks to an ingredient called 'Allicin'; if you don't fancy eating garlic as it is, try 'Health Perception Allimax supplement', which contains rapidly absorbed 'Allicin' powder 6.99_GBP for 30 capsules; telephone: 0125 286 1454 to order.
  • Honey: It has been long f�ted in folk medicine for its curative properties, and 'Active Manuka Honey' from New Zealand is laboratory-tested to ensure a particularly high 'antibacterial' action. Make it into a natural cough medicine by boiling a lemon for ten minutes and extracting the juice. Put the juice in a glass with two tablespoonfuls of 'glycerine', and fill the glass up with honey. Take a teaspoonful at a time.
  • Essential-oil patches: The 'Naturopatch' is a new idea: a 75_mm diameter, 'stick-on' patch that is impregnated with a blend of 'essential oils', applied to the body for 48 hours, it releases its healing vapours; for 'common colds' and 'influenza' try 'Eucalyptus', 14.95_GBP for a tin of 15 patches. To order, telephone 0173 781 9883.
Give flu the knock-out jab', Alex Hindaugh, The Scotsman, 2005-02-01 Previously on This Blog: Health: Natural Ways to Avoid 'Flu 2004-11

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I already posted a comment on the natural flu remedy blog, but it is worth getting excited here too!!!!

I like this blog because a picture is beginning to form in my mind from the various articles....
Eat a diet that includes zinc (pills), garlic (no problem), vitamin c (juice or grapefruit), two spoons of honey before sleeping in a bed in a really dark room.

Forget the gym, laziness is good for you. Go for walks, do 15 minutes of weights 3 times a week, and have cold showers.

The honey will keep the flu at bay and burn fat while you sleep. The weights will damage muscles and so you burn fat to repair them while you sleep. The walking will keep you fit and mentally sharp. The Garlic and vitamin c will keep away the flu and colds, and grapefruit will help lose weight too.

Avoiding stress, and getting a good night's sleep cannot be a bad thing in anyone's book.

Keep up the good work on this blog... it's SUPER!

2/03/2005 01:47:00 am  
Blogger Dave said...

Thanks for the nice comments, but I merely pick the stories and paste them here in the hope that one day I can find the time to do my personal website (these stories are intended to support my personal views). Glad you like the blog though.

2/03/2005 11:29:00 am  

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