It’s here, folks. You’ve likely had the flu in the past and if you’re currently coming down with symptoms you’re not looking forward to the next few days. Your throat hurts, your nose is first watery, then clogged with something approximating cement. Your muscles ache and you’re pretty sure you have a fever, but you’re too tired to go hunting for a thermometer. You know you’re sick when you’re annoyed that the TV remote is on the other side of the room.
Flu starts with what feels like a bad cold but then in a day or two gets much worse.
This Time Magazine piece draws together a lot of background on the forthcoming flu season, which is predicted to be a bad one. Based on the number of flu patients I’ve seen and heard from, it will get worse.
If you’re feeling a minor wave of guilt for not getting a flu shot, know that this year’s immunization formula seems to be effective in just ten percent of flu cases. This means despite immunization you can still get the flu, though it will likely be milder than what your non-vaccinated friends are experiencing.
What to do if you’re coming down with the flu
Take these steps if you feel the flu coming on. Consider forwarding to friends and family.
- If you have some early flu symptoms, call your doctor and ask her to phone in a prescription for Tamiflu (75 mg twice daily for five days). It won’t work as a immediate cure, but will shorten the duration of your flu by two to three days. You need to start taking Tamiflu within the first 48 hours or don’t bother with it.
- Take Aleve (Naproxen) for muscle aches and headache (one every 12 hours).
- Get a neti pot and rinse your sinuses twice a day. This will clear viruses and reduce spread to those with whom you come into contact.
- Use lozenges for a sore throat. Look for those containing zinc and elderberry as these are natural antivirals.
- Pick up a nice selection of herbal teas and sip them throughout the day. Create your own blends or drink them straight. Elderberry, Echinacea, goldenseal, ginger, and eucalyptus all provide relief.
- While you’re near the stove, heat up some chicken soup. It’s been proven beyond doubt to have viral-killing properties.
- Position a steam vaporizer next to your bed (you are in bed, I trust), adding some eucalyptus oil or Vicks VapoRub.
- Oscillococcinum is a good homeopathic remedy for the flu. It’s available pretty much everywhere and is harmless. You can use it with Tamiflu.
- If a tickly cough is keeping you up at night, take an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Zyrtec, one daily.
- If the cough is not subsiding and you’re considering self-inflicted decapitation just to stop it, don’t despair. Ask your doc to phone in a prescription for Tessalon Perles (benzonatate). Swallow one tablet three to four times daily and your cough will stop.
Avoiding and preventing the flu
I knew flu season was in full swing one year when I was at Orchestra Hall, listening to Mozart’s Concerto for Cello…and 50 Rude Hackers. From my seat, I could see the conductor flinch with every barking cough. Most patrons coughed the correct way (into the crook of an arm or a tissue), but many did not. If you find yourself in a comparable room full of virus-spewers, you might just want to leave.
Wash your hands frequently. After using the toilet (of course), but also before food preparation and especially after pushing a grocery cart, opening doors not your own, and shaking hands.
If people at work are calling in sick with the flu or your partner arrives home looking like he/she’s been pounding at death’s door, moaning “I think I have the flu,” remember if it’s within the first 48 hours to call the doctor for a Tamiflu prescription.
Get one for yourself, too, as a preventive step. To prevent flu, the Tamiflu dose is different: take one daily for ten days.
Read this piece about taking high doses of vitamin C as a virus preventer. Take 1000 mg every hour for six hours, then 1000 mg three times daily.
For more, check this tidy flu prevention list from the CDC.
Is it too late for a flu shot?
Most people who come to WholeHealth Chicago–as well as most of our staff–do not get flu shots. I’m the exception. Years and years ago, I was down with flu for a solid month and decided back then I’d do everything possible to prevent a recurrence.
Flu season peaks from December to February, but has been known to last as long as May. If you took a flu shot today, within a week you’d start having some protection.
It’s up to you.
David Edelberg, MD
A happy announcement
As many of you know, during the past few years Casey Kelley, MD, has emerged as one of the leading experts in the Midwest on chronic Lyme disease and mold toxicity. She’s been doing original research and traveling around the country to medical meetings, and honestly she’s probably the most brilliant clinician I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
I’m delighted to let you know that Dr. Kelley has accepted the position of Associate Medical Director here at WholeHealth Chicago.
I myself am not stepping down or cutting back on hours. But I’m thrilled to have an associate with Dr. Kelley’s skill and expertise. Both of our schedules for seeing patients will remain the same.