Dr. James Chandler, N.D.,  Ph.D - Chandler Naturopathic Health Center
Chandler Naturopathic Health Center

Winter Illnesses: Time to Prepare.

  Temperatures today are in the upper 57s and it is forecast to get colder this week.  Some say this is typical weather for for time of year, the middle of Autumn.  The heat of summer is giving way to the cold and darker days of winter.  With this change also comes changes in the illnesses that afflict us. The onset of winter brings with it the season's dread. 
     The biggest dread is the nasty cold and flu.  I am not saying that colder weather causes these illnesses, but the viruses that manifest as cold and or flu thrive better in the cooler temperatures of fall and winter when the humidity is lower, we are all gathered together in close quarters, and our immune system is a little less active.  Little known is that there are actually over 200 viruses that can cause the common cold.  The most well know to the majority of us are the rhino viruses.  Symptoms include: nasal congestion, sinus congestion, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and headache, low fever (in some children).
     Normally, incubation of the cold virus is 18 - 24 hours after the virus enters the body, so you actually have a cold before you even know it.  It is estimated that healthy adults average two colds per year. Children on the other hand tend to contract many more because their immune system is immature.  Usually, the cold clears up on its own in a week to 10 days. However, a cold can lead to more serious illnesses, such as sinus infections, middle ear infections, and/or bronchitis. 
     Often people are confused between the symptoms of the common cold, influenza, and allergies (which are also common this time of year).  Influenza (flu) is also caused by a viruses but are different viruses than the common cold and the flu is more serious, by far, than either the common cold or seasonal allergies.  Flu can lead to life threatening complications, particularly in the very young and in older or frail people. 
    Since influenza, seasonal allergies, and the common cold cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish between them.  There are certain notable differences as described below:
 
Characteristic             Cold             Flu                  Allergies
___________________________________________________________
Chest infection               Common         Common.                    Rare
or cough                          Mild to            Can become   
                                        moderate.           severe.
                                                                  Pneumonia is
                                                                  a common
                                                                  complication.
__________________________________________________________
Fever                              Rare (except       Usually (102 +)         None
                                            in young              May last 3-4
                                            children)              days.
__________________________________________________________
General aches                      Mild                Usual. Can be         Rare
and pains                                                          severe.
__________________________________________________________
Headache                             Rare.                   Common.             Rare.
___________________________________________________________
Sneezing                               Usual.                 Rare.                  Usual,
red, itchy, watery                                                                    especially eyes.                                                                                          sneezing.
                                                                                                   Comes on
                                                                                                   quickly
                                                                                                   and lasts
                                                                                                    longer.
__________________________________________________________
Sore throat                        Usual.                Occasional.        Occasional
___________________________________________________________
Stuffy nose                        Usual.                  Occasional.       Occasional
___________________________________________________________
Tiredness                           Mild.                    Severe.               Rare.
___________________________________________________________
Primary Season                   Late                    Winter.            March -
                                            August -                                       September
                                            April.
___________________________________________________________
Duration                              7-10 days             Up to 30 days.     As long
                                                                                                         as the
                                                                                                      allergen
                                                                                                    is present.
 
 
     So, what can you do to minimize your chances of contracting a cold or flu this season?  A study conducted in 1999 -2000 has shown that taking antioxidants; vitamin C, selenium, zinc, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and protein can significantly reduce the chance of getting such respiratory tract infection.  Wash your hands frequently and this bares repeating, wash your hands frequently, using warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.  Cold viruses can survive for hours on hard surfaces, hands, and tissues (flush facial tissues after use).  Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth. Stay away from others that are sick.   During the winter months, vitamin D levels can fall below optimal levels ( 30 ng/ml), it is recommended that you supplement with vitamin D3 to help restore and maintain your immunity.  I suggest taking 3,000-5,000 IUs daily with the heaviest meal of the day.  For children under 12 years of age, 1,000 to 2,000 IUs daily. 
     Using the same principles cited above, the flu can be prevented also.  There is some debate over who should get the flu shot and who should not.  I will reserve my opinion on this topic for another blog post.  But, should you decide that you will get a flu shot, I highly recommend that you take a mushroom complex supplement starting two weeks before the shot and continue two weeks after the shot (or nasal spray).  The mushroom complex will help the shot do its job by increasing the natural killer cells of the the immune system, thus boosting your immune response to the vaccine.
     Should you get a cold or the flu take vitamin C and zinc lozenges (zinc every three hours, not exceed 100 mg of zinc daily) at the first sign of sore throat or stuffiness in the head or nose.  Sip hot liquids such as chicken broth and chicken soup. Remain as active as possible.  Moving around helps to loosen built-up mucus and fluids.   Elderberry is recommended for upper respiratory tract infections associated with colds.  Ginger, Pau d'arco, slippery elm, and yarrow tea can help the common cold.  Mushrooms, Maitake, shiitake, and reishi, stimulates the immune cells making them essential in fighting the flu.
 
See your Natural Health doctor and/or medical physician if symptoms worsen.
 
Need supplements?  For all of your supplement needs go to the "store" page on www.drchandlend.com or www.davincilabs.com .
 
 
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