It seems to be all around us. We see it at our children’s school, we see it at our workplace and in our community.
It’s something I have experienced first-hand. It seems as inevitable as tax season and tourists.
I am talking about flu season. When I spoke with a patient who is a teacher, she said as much as 40 per cent of her kids were missing because of the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that mentioned the flu vaccine was not as successful as they thought it ought to have been. Some estimates were as low as 17 per cent effective.
So, what do we do? I feel there are some very simple and straightforward solutions to avoiding the flu or, at least minimizing its lingering effects.
It is important that we practice good hand-washing techniques. The majority of the entrance way into our bodies of the flu include pathways like the nose, mouth and ears.
That’s why these areas hurt first just prior to the other lovely symptoms. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not contract the flu by inhaling germs from a cough or sneeze.
In fact, it is usually by our hand to an unknowing orifice of our body such as our nose, ears or mouth.
Washing your hands about five times a day greatly reduces the ability of transmitting the pathogen to you, the unwilling host.
But this brings us to the age old question: Is it the seed or the soil? By this, I mean do we get sick because of the simple exposure to germs or do we get sick because our very own immune system (the soil) is compromised?
I believe the latter. Understanding this, helps us to potentiate our very own immune response and our ability to fend off any would be cold or flu.
Regular exercise has been proven over and over again to boost the immune system and your response to a pathogen.
In the research, acceptable exercise levels include light or moderate exercise three to five times a week for as little as 20 minutes.
The next thing you need to do is ensure that you get enough sleep. A body that is tired is one that has a weak immune response. If one takes care of their body, it agrees to take care of you.
My next point is about the importance of vitamin D.
This vitamin is essential to our very own immune function.
Here in Kelowna, even though we pay a hefty sunshine tax, we don’t really get much sunshine this time of year. Researchers have estimated that 81 per cent of our population is vitamin D deficient.
This is one of the most important steps you can take in avoiding the flu. Because we have no exposure to direct sunlight during this time of year, we have little to no synthesis of vitamin D.
During cold and flu season and seeing approximately 60 patients a day, I make sure that I take at least 2000 mg of vitamin D a day. And yes, I shake everyone’s hand.
So, wash your hands, get your sleep, exercise and take vitamin D. Before you know it, the sun will be out again.