- Annually, influenza is blamed for approximately 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations in adults in the US.
- People are contagious for 1 – 4 days before the onset of symptoms and up to 5 days after the first symptoms.
- About 50% of infected people do not show any symptoms but are still contagious.
Prevention is the Key!
Respiratory “etiquette” is a way in which you can help keep yourself and others healthy by preventing the spread of harmful germs (or evil qi, in TCM speak). Be sure to follow the following etiquette guidelines:
- The first and most important prevention tool is hand-washing. Washing your hands with soap and water is one way to clean them, but an even better way is to use an alcohol-based hand rub. Remember to do this after having contact with your eyes, mouth or nose, as well as any other contaminated objects or materials that you may have touched. The rule of thumb in hospitals and clinics is 15 seconds of washing.
- Always sneeze, cough, or blow your nose into a tissue to catch the germs so they don’t get into the air. Do not forgot to throw used tissues away and wash your hands afterward.
- Alternatively, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow, NOT into your hand!
Nutritional Help for the Flu
Naturally occurring chemicals (allin, allicin, and ajoene) in garlic are believed to regulate mucus flow, and may be helpful for reducing congestion caused by the common cold.
Vitamin C is a superb immunity booster. If taken at the first signs of a cold, it may keep the cold from fully developing and may produce a faster recovery. However, taking vitamin C does not prevent colds. Good sources of Vitamin C: Red Cabbage, Strawberries, Potatoes, Tangerines, Red Bell Peppers, Oranges, Kiwis
When taken immediately at the first signs of catching a cold, zinc may weaken the cold virus, minimize the duration and the severity of a cold. Zinc is believed to promote a strong immune system by processing the essential fatty acids that encourage healing. Zinc lozenges are helpful for this purpose. Good sources of zinc: Barley, Chicken, Lamb,Turkey, Oysters, Crab & Beef
ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBS FOR COLD AND FLU
Your acupuncturist/herbalist will determine the stage of your cold or flu by the length and type of symptoms. In the initial stages of a cold or flu (day 1-3) acupuncture can greatly decrease the length of the cold and intensity of the symptoms. In addition acupuncture can help to alleviate headache, nausea, cough and body aches in the latter stages.
Your practitioner will determine which herbal formula is appropriate for the stage and symptoms.
In the beginning stages of a cold a formula such as Gui Zhi Tang may be used (this formula contains cinnamon twig). If the patient is showing more heat signs (sore throat and fever), she may prescribe Yin Qiao San (contains ingredients such as Japansese lonicera flower and forsythia fruit). If the cold or flu has progressed with headache, nausea, cough, body aches, etc. (usually after 4-5 days) she may prescribe a formula such as Xiao Qing Long Tang (contains cinnamon twig, ephedra herb) or Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San (contains mint herb and cnidium root for headache).
Please do not self prescribe with these herbal formulas. You must see your acupuncturist/herbalist to receive the proper care.