Winter is coming and so is the flu.
Everybody knows that children and old people are more susceptible to catching a cold or getting the flu.
In childhood – it’s because a child’s immune system is not developed fully.
But why are old people more vulnerable?
Immune cells, T-lymphocytes, are grown in the thymus gland – a special organ in charge of the immune system. It is located at the top of the chest. However, with age the thymus gland shrinks and decomposes, and eventually it simply disappears as we get older.
The thymus starts deteriorating after birth but the process speeds up after puberty and, by the age of 65, we are basically unable to make new T cells.
The organ shrinks, and T cell areas are replaced with fatty tissue, in a process called involution. The thymus shrinks more quickly from unhealthy diets, bad habits (sweets, smoking, etc.), and environmental toxins.
However, it is not all bad news as there are ways to increase immunity in elderly people.
For example, the thymus can be restored with a low-calorie diet (not malnutrition!), it is possible that this is due to the “hunger hormone” – ghrelin (ghrelin). Ideally your diet should be well balanced, preferably organic, without junk food or palm oil.
The common cold is caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms appear one to two days after infection and last a week or so depending upon your immune system. All of us know the symptoms of a cold – the sneezing, sore throat, blocked nose, cough, headache and, sometimes, fever. The symptoms will generally resolve on their own, with or without drugs, depending on your age and your general state of health.
Influenza is also a viral infection, but is different from a cold. There is a vaccine against the ‘flu’, but the large number of strains means that the flu is of a different strain each year and a vaccine may not be effective for the strain of flu that you will contract. The flu is characterized by a sudden onset with fever, fatigue, a general feeling of being unwell, muscle pains and also the symptoms exhibited by a common cold. Flu can last up to two to three weeks, and usually requires the sick person to rest for a few days. Flu can be dangerous, which is why it is advisable to stay in bed at least for the first several days.
Colds and flu spread more easily in the winter, when it is cold, and we spend more time inside, and travel more in public transportation, where viruses spread quickly and easily.
Allopathic treatments for cold and flu symptoms are commonly available without prescription. Commonly they are painkillers for relief of muscle aches and pains, sore throat, fever and headaches; nasal sprays for a blocked nose; antihistamines to dry up runny nose and eyes; and cough suppressants.
Combination medications, containing two or more of the above, are popular; mainly because they are cheap and convenient. But many over the counter medicines are not suitable for children or patients taking other prescription medication. If you use prescribed medication you should ask your pharmacist if you can use any other drugs with your prescriptions, even if you ‘only’ need the common OTC cold or flu meds.
If you have a bad cold, with a headache, and decide to use pain killers and go to work – to share your germs with colleges – this is not a good idea. Headache is body’s attempt to slow you down, it is like your body is asking you to stay at home in a warm room… but often we ignore these signals. Sometimes we get away with this and sometimes not…
Case from practice.
One woman came to me to be treated for the complications following pneumonia. What happened with her was quite typical – she had had a cold and was feeling sort of OK, but she was tired and had a sore throat. She had bought expensive tickets to the theater and had thought that a small cold should not stop from going to the theater and make her stay at home. Unfortunately, at the theater there was a strong air condition flow near the seat where she was sitting for the 3 hour duration of the show. The consequence was upsetting – pneumonia. It took her 3 months to recover.
So if a flu can be dangerous, how can we can protect ourselves.?
Doctors will suggest vaccination.
What else could be done?
Will using a face mask avoid flu?
In public places if somebody sneezes or coughs near you, there are millions of viruses in the air and mask could be used. How effective is it? Australian scientists have observed families of people who have seen a doctor with flu symptoms. Those who wore masks in the presence of the sick person were infected 80% less frequently than those who did not have a mask.
Of course some people will find it uncomfortable to wear the mask.
Nasal Irrigation could be a simple and effective way to combat a cold. Flushing the nasal passageway with warm salt-water can help prevent colds. I would not suggest this method to somebody with sinus, ear or nose problems as it can make it worse. This method should be shown to you by a nurse or medical practitioner, and only after this can you do it safely yourself.
If you are not allergic to essential oils keep in mind that some of them have antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
For example eucalyptus, or tea tree oil. You can add a few drops to your bath, or diffuse them into the air. Essential oils are very strong, you can use only few drops in water in the oil burner, if the smell is too strong it could cause allergic reactions, a sore throat or other problems.
Tea tree essential oil has antiseptic, antiviral and antimicrobial properties, it is a natural disinfectant, which kills germs on surfaces and in the air.
Some food are also known to keep germs away; for example garlic and onion. If you are not allergic to them and don’t care what people will think about your smelly breath – add them to your salad!
There are some homeopathic remedies that can help to prevent or treat flu.
To prevent the flu you could ask your homeopath to get you polyinfluenzinum, it is a German combination remedy which has new flu strains each year.
If you fall ill with a cold or flu some homeopathic remedies are available from Boots or other health shops.
Remedies may be taken safely by any patient including those who are taking prescription medication without worries regarding side-effects or interactions.
Because homeopathy takes into account the overall picture – and specific “modalities” that make the symptoms better or worse – two patients with the same complaint, such as a cold with fever, may be given different homeopathic remedies. For example, Aconite or Belladonna might be recommended for cold in cases of sudden onset, Ferrum phos. or Bryonia may be more appropriate if onset is slow.
Here are some of homeopathic remedies that could be beneficial:
Gelsemium – For flu with headaches
Aconite – quick onset, fever, thirsty.
Belladonna – high fever, red face, sensitive to light. Right sided pain in the throat
Lachesis – sore throat left sided.
Bryonia – dry cough, painful to swallow food, thirsty.
Kali Bichromicum – blocked nose, sinus problems.
Nux vomica – headache, pains in the body, irritable, nauseous.
Natrum mur – Streaming nose, eyes, sneezing, clear discharge often thicker later.
Arsenicum album – sore throat, fever, catarrh, burning pains.
Ferrum Phos – slow onset, fever, worse at night.
If you never tried homeopathy, try it this season!
Keep healthy and happy.
About the Author:
Irina Redman, Homeopath LCPH, member of the Association of Natural Medicine, Homeopath and and registered Iridologist, I live in Ipswich and work in Colchester, Ipswich and surrounding area. CURRENT OFFER: FREE OF CHARGE homeopathic advice for simple, non-chronic complaints. Tel.: 01473720578 Email: email@example.com http://www.homeopathy-online.co.uk