Generally thought of as the time between October 1st and March 31st each year, the ‘Cold and Flu Season’ is a time of cooler climes. Viruses like influenza, rhinovirus, coronavirus and adenovirus flourish is cooler, dry air spreading more easily from person to person than in heavier, humid air in warmer temperatures. For this reason, we see more patients visiting doctors complaining of fever, sore throat, cough, congestion, runny nose, earache and fatigue…all common symptoms of upper respiratory infections or URI’s.
You should know that last year a new influenza vaccine was made available and is called, “Flublok.” Unlike influenza vaccines before this one, it is not produced using chicken eggs to replicate the proteins used to induce your immune response. Flublok is made with recombinant technology to replicate protein to make more vaccine. Therefore, the mutation that can occur during this process with chicken eggs is avoided and the vaccine is more effective.
You can obtain and have this vaccine administered at your local pharmacy. Just call to confirm they have it in stock before going. It is for persons age 18 and older. Your children can still have inactivated influenza vaccine and should because the influenza can be life threatening to even the most healthy persons.
Aside from vaccination to avoid influenza, there is no vaccine for the ‘Common Cold’, the 7 to 10 day viral syndrome that you can catch from coworkers or children bringing it home from school. Antibiotics will not shorten this course and you should make use of all the old standbys including grandma’s recipe of warm chicken noodle soup to remain well hydrated, sooth the throat and help clear up noses and sinuses. Over-the-counter medications can help with symptoms while your body does the real work to reduce viral load and end the infection effects.
To avoid ‘catching colds’, you should make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night as studies have proven over and over again that Americans who, on average, get less than this amount of sleep are 3 to 4 times more likely to have an URI. Avoid touching your face and wash hands frequently as well. Stay well hydrated with 48 to 64 ounces of fluids (non-caffeinated, non-sugar) per day as your immune cells and antibodies can move more freely through your bodily tissues to eradicate virus and bacteria this way. For example, IgA, an immune system protein in your saliva can bind viral particles you are exposed to and inactivate them, but if you are dehydrated, that defensive barrier is eliminated making it easier for viruses to affect you.
So, if you are able to avoid ‘catching cold or flu’, great! If not, come and see me!