This is the time of year that patients come in with many questions about the cold and flu. Should I get the flu shot? What happens if I get the flu? What do I do for the common cold? Though there are many things you can do to avoid catching these nasty viruses this winter, there is one remedy in particular that everyone should know about. Black elderberry has a long history of use in colds, and several studies in humans have shown that black elderberries not only reduce the severity, but also the duration of influenza. As a matter of fact, when the H1N1 flu was going around, the National Institute of Health screened a wide range of natural products to see if they had antiviral activity, and black elderberry ranked very high. Black elderberry has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, having effectiveness against influenza A, influenza B, and several gram positive and negative bacteria. Elderberry can be safe and effective for many of the common respiratory complaints people have during the cold and flu season. It’s safe for children, and safe for adults as well, making elderberry an essential member of your medicine chest this winter. I personally get my elderberry from www.mindfullymadeforyou.com to support local small business!
Influenza strikes every year and leaves much to be discussed. The flu statistics reveal that the highest risk groups are those 65+ years of age followed by those 0-4 years of age. The other high risk groups include pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory illness or those with weakened immune systems.
Seasonal influenza is typically the following with rapid onset:
Seasonal influenza is not typically:
The only absolute is a positive influenza swab. Unfortunately the test can be inaccurate. Some studies suggest the influenza swab is only 30% accurate while others suggest 70% accuracy. The best case scenario it misses 3 out of 10 individuals with influenza. This makes clinical suspicion and evaluation by your physician key in diagnosis.
Tamiflu or other antivirals are the only prescription form of treatment but have their limitations. They need to be started within 48-72 hours of onset of symptoms. Antivirals when started early in the course of the illness can decrease the severity of symptoms and length of course but are not a cure. Large families or those with high risk individuals may opt to take antivirals as preventive or prophylactic care when a known influenza carrier has been diagnosed.
Supportive care is the true mainstay of care for anyone with influenza:
There are always lots of opinions regarding vaccination. While it is not a perfect vaccine as far as guaranteed coverage for influenza, it is safe.
The CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Vaccination is one way to protect yourself from influenza and can reduce the severity of illness if contracted and prevent hospitalizations in addition to doctor visits and time off work.
Does the flu shot cause the flu?
No but can cause a flu-like response with mild headache, joint pains, and fever
How long until I am covered after receiving the vaccination?