Flu is very contagious, viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs. Caused by various strands of the influenza virus. The recovery period is typically two weeks, but some people are at higher risk of developing flu complications like pneumonia; the elderly people with medical conditions such as asthma and people with weak immune systems. Vaccination is the most common, effective and inexpensive prevention measure.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1What can be taken on the development of flu symptoms?
- 2What are the signs and symptoms for Flu?
- 3What is the comparison between Flu and the Common Cold?
- 4How should we understand what the influenza virus is?
- 5How does the influenza virus spread?
- 6What is seasonal influenza?
- 7What is the role that Cytokines play?
- 8What is a Cytokine Storm?
- 9How can one prevent getting Flu?
- 10What are the novel flu strategies available?
- 11What are the targeted natural interventions available?
- Zinc Lozenges
- Garlic – supplementation until symptoms subside
- Vitamin D
- Cimetidine – for its potent immune enhancing properties
Important not to delay these strategies, as a flu virus replicates out of control, and then zinc lozenges will not help at all. The treatment should be done as soon as symptoms start.
This is inflammation of the tissues, which line the nasal cavity, throat, the inner surface of the eye lids and the lungs. This also includes sudden fever, fatigue, headache and muscle aches.
Cold: >200 viral strains, rhinovirus most common
Flu:3 strains of influenza virus: A, B, and C
Site of infection
Cold: Upper respiratory tract
Flu: Entire respiratory system
Cold: Gradual: 1-3 days
Flu: Sudden: within a few hours
Cold:Occasional low grade
Flu: Characteristic higher, lasting a few days
Cold: Infrequent usually mild
Flu: Characteristic, more severe
General aches, pains
Cold: Mild if any
Flu: Often severe and affects the whole body
Cold: Common usually mild
Cough, chest congestion
Cold: Common, mild to moderate, with hacking productive cough
Flu: Common, severe dry, non-productive cough
Runny, Stuffy nose
Cold: Very common, accompanied by sneezing
Flu: Sometimes present
Cold: Mild, if any
Flu: Usual, could become severe and last 2-3 weeks
Flu: Frequent, in early stages of illness
Cold: Year round, mostly in winter
Flu: Mostly between November and February
Cold: No, unless secondary bacterial infection develops
Flu: No, unless secondary bacterial infection develops
- These viruses are based on a protein composition, in three types A, B, and C
- Type A viruses are the most dangerous to humans
- Type C is less problematic as most people have antibodies to influenza C early in life
- With the flu virus always mutating and changing it becomes more resistant to antiviral drugs
- It spreads via tiny droplets when a person coughs, sneezes or speaks.
- These droplets transmit the virus if it lands in the mouths or noses of bystanders.
- A person could also get infected by touching their mouth, eyes and nose after touching a surface where the virus has landed.
- Within 4-6 hours the virus will start to replicate.
- From initial infection to symptomatic illness takes 1-4 days.
- The contagious period start 24 hours before the symptoms start, for up to a week before becoming sick.
- It’s a term used to describe annual outbreaks which occur in late fall and winter climate regions for example.
- Majority of people who suffer and die from seasonal influenza are the elderly.
- These outbreaks usually last for 3 months, and spread through a community in a 2-3 week peak period.
- Where healthy adults this last for about 6-8 days of clinical symptoms – sudden fever, general fatigue, headache, or muscle aches, dry/unproductive cough, sore throat and runny/stuffy nose.
More serious complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and congestive heart failure.
- Multifunctional group of proteins which regulate immune and inflammatory responses, which get released by cells in response to infection.
- In most infections cytokines are controlled to maintain the balance of killing a virus and minimize damage to healthy cells.
- Massive inflammatory response from a strong immune system in response to pathogens
- It’s also associated with tissue damage in lungs.
- Cytokine storms are there to stop the hosts immune response and reduce self-inflicted inflammatory damage
- Slowing down excessive cytokine production, can be done by taking the following agents, fish oil, green tea, black cumin seed oil and Vitamin D.
Vaccination – The most effective and least expensive method for preventing influenza. Vaccination does however not guarantee flu prevention.
Other methods – “WHACK” :
- Wash or sanitize hands regularly
- Also recommended that all linen, eating utensils and dishes be washed with soap and water when used by someone that is sick
- Keep a distance from sick people and wear a mask if possible
- Cover your coughs, sneezes with a tissue
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Home is where you should be when sick
Conventional flu treatment – Aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications, aches and fever can be relived with over the counter medicines. Antiviral drug therapy helps treat flu, but depends on time lapsed with onset of symptoms and how strong the virus is circulating in the community. These drugs help to reduce the symptoms and signs, and prevent hospitalisation or death in patients.
The most common drugs used are:
Neuraminidase inhibitors – promote viral infection of healthy cells, drive inflammation, and cause viral inactivation by respiratory mucus. Their side effects are nausea, vomiting, and may cause bronchospasm in people with asthma. Should be given within 24-48 hours of the start of symptoms.
Adamantanes– Start the antiviral action by inhibiting the release of viral genetic material into a host cell, and interfering with un-coating of the virus particles. These have serious side effects, heart rhythm irregularities, hallucinations, respiratory distress, in elderly people or patients with kidney problems.
Influenza is caused by a bacteria and not a virus, thus why it’s not recommended to use antibiotics, could lead to unwanted side effects or become antibiotic resistant in future.
- Cimetidine – Over the counter drug approved by the FDA. It has been shown to enhance the immune system. It is also beneficial for combatting various infections and is also used to treat herpes simplex infections. It could increase the risk of a cytokine storm, and should be avoided by people who are at risk for this.
- Statin class drugs –Reduce serum lipids like cholesterol, and is used to treat and prevent vascular disease. It can also help to regulate inflammatory responses to some influenza viruses.
Helps to avoid influenza infection or ease flu symptoms.
Vitamin D – Has a role in the regulation of the immune system, and reduces the risk of some viral and bacterial infections. Deficiency of Vitamin D may cause an increased risk of influenza and respiratory tract infection. By supplementing with Vitamin D you lower the risk of seasonal influenza especially for school children. Vitamin D helps prevent excessive production of inflammatory cytokines.
Vitamin C – We need an efficient amount of Vitamin C daily to protect our immune system against infections. It also increases the production and action of white blood cells, and increases their ability to attack and destroy viruses.
Zinc – It is needed for metabolic processes and works together with a large number of enzymes. It plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Zinc deficiency in elderly people can impair their immunity, which then increases their risk of infection.
Selenium – Is a powerful antioxidant in almost all of the human tissue. It boosts the immune system, and protection against pathogens. Selenium deficiency increases the spread of influenza, by increasing the susceptibility to viral infections.
Vitamin E – It is a potent antioxidant, involved in a variety of physiological processes, from cognitive performance to the immune function.
By supplementing with vitamin E, it helps enhancing some functions of the human immune system and decreasing the risk of influenza virus.
Lactoferrin – It’s an iron binding component of weigh protein, which has some immune modulating effects. It also has the ability to act against bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Beneficial for alleviating symptoms and complications of viral infections like flu, as it decreases free radical mediated damage.
Elderberry – It has a rich source of antioxidants and has been used for a long time to treat influenza. It does this by binding to the outside of the virus and keeps it from invading the host cells.
Green tea – Is a powerful antioxidant, and has very beneficial properties in treating influenza. It directly kills the influenza virus and decreases the number of viruses found in the blood with chronic viral infection. It helps to decrease flu-like symptoms by reducing inflammation.
Beta-Glucans – These are naturally occurring glucose polymers that constitute the cell walls of some plants and fungi. Beta-glucans reduce signs of lung diseases and viral replication rates.
Andrographis – These have anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive, anti-viral and immune modulating properties. It enhances mobility of white blood cells in response to cytokine stimulation, which allows for more efficient immune response against pathogens.
Probiotics – Microorganisms confer with health benefits to the host. Some of these help prevent respiratory tract infections by changing the immune system. Useful in treating influenza, which helps to reduce severity and the duration of symptoms.
Reishi – Their immune stimulating effects help to fight off both bacterial and viral infections. Reishi mushrooms slows down the growth of influenza, HIV, Hepatitis B, and other viruses.
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I would formally like to thank Dr Maurits Kruger from Health Renewal for helping my cousin and her new born baby who is only 4 weeks old. The baby had been sick for 2 full weeks causing the mother and father to have sleepless nights and in addition to that lead to the the mother and father getting sick. This cold recent winter snap really added an enormous amount of pressure to the new parents. I called Dr Maurits Kruger (as advised by my mother) to ask him if he would be able to suggest any treatments for both the baby and the parents.
Dr Maurits Kruger assessed the baby’s condition over the phone, asking me various questions and then advised me to get a full set of homeopathic medication for her. This would treat the baby’s cough, mucus and immune system. He then advised that the parents take a few supplements at the same time to avoid the vicious cycle being repeated again. The family started the homeopathic medication on the Friday evening and the Dr Maurits Kruger advised that the family should be better that same Sunday and if they were not better, I was to call him immediately and he would come to the house and see the baby. Needless to say, the family were back on track by Sunday evening and all is well. The manner in which he made himself available and the advice given was amazing. He remained helpful and professional at all times – what a gem to the Health Renewal staff! A very big thank you to Dr Maurits!