Flu

Woman sneezing into napkin

A Novel Treatment For Influenza

Silver. In the world of chemistry, a shiny, white metal found in the earth’s core. In the world of sports, a respectable second place. In folklore, the only material capable of being cast into a bullet effective against a witch, werewolf, or monster. In cutlery, the table setting that your mother only used for “occasions.” In fashion, the symbol of disco, rock and roll, outer space, self-expression, and general rebellion. In medicine, a powerful treatment for influenza. While you may be familiar with most of the above applications of silver, it may surprise you to hear of the last one. New evidence has been found suggesting silver could be Tamiflu’s newest ally in the fight against influenza. Read on to find out more.

Research
The revelation that silver may be an aid in the treatment of influenza was tested when researchers exposed a combination of silver derived test materials and Tamiflu to a type of flu virus called H1N1 and then exposed the virus to Tamiflu alone. The findings show that silver has “remarkable inhibition against H1N1 infection.”

Two-Step Effect
In addition to inhibiting the virus, silver was also found to be effective in preventing the virus from attaching to host cells. This classifies it as a neuraminidase inhibitor. Neuraminidase in an enzyme on the surface of the influenza virus. It is required for the virus to be released from the host cells and spread into the tissues in the body. Silver blocks this from happening. The second step of viral invasion is replication. During this step, viruses need to attach to tissues with a binding material. Influenza HA has a glycoprotein on its surface that lets it bind to the virus. Silver blocks this as well.

Tamiflu pills

Kills Flu Viruses
According to a 2013 study conduct by the Journal of Virological Methods, silver kills many types of flu viruses. Adenoviruses are associated with ocular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal disease which can be especially dangerous to babies and those with weakened immune systems. Because silver has been shown to be able to kill viruses such as H1N1, Hepatitis B, and immunodeficiency viruses, investigators wanted to see if it had the same effect on the adenovirus type 3. Results revealed, “Silver nanoparticles exhibit remarkable inhibitory effects on Ad3 in vitro, which suggest silver nanoparticles could be a potential antiviral agent for inhibiting Ad3 infection.”

Protects Against Second Infection
Silver has also been found to be active against bacteria that can cause secondary complications and infections to a body already weakened by the flu virus. A report in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Journal found that a combination of nano silver particles with sodium alginate, a phytochemical found in brown kelp was able to inhibit the growth and development of several types of pathogenetic bacteria.

Silver You Need
Experts advise the purchase of bio-active silver hydrofoil as a dietary supplement. Look for a solution with 10 parts per million 99.95% dispersal silver nanoparticles in pure hydrofoil as opposed to colloids. Take a tablespoon three times daily for prevention of flu, and up to every 30 minutes during an episode.

Would you take silver as a dietary supplement the next time you have the flu? Let us know, although we hope you never have to find out.

Woman down with the flu

Avoiding Cooties: Cold, Flu and Retrovirus

The common cold, the flu and retroviruses make their rounds during winter time and it can seem impossible to stay healthy. Luckily, there are lifestyle changes and medical interventions that you can use to help protect yourself and your loved ones from coming down with the cold, flu and retrovirus. Use the following five tips to keep your family and yourself healthy during cold and flu season this year.

Wash Your Hands
The number one thing you can do to prevent the common cold, flu and retroviruses is to wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that “handwashing is like a do-it-yourself vaccine” when it comes to preventing illnesses. Properly washing your hands consists of five steps:

  • Wet your hands
  • Lather your hands – don’t forget the backs of your hands, in between fingers and under fingernails
  • Scrub your hands – do this for at least 20 seconds for maximum cleanliness
  • Rinse
  • Dry

Get Vaccinated
When it comes to the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that getting vaccinated is the first, and most important, step in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older be vaccinated annually to prevent the flu virus. “Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths,” according to the CDC. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which flu vaccine is the most appropriate for you.

Stay Home
To protect yourself from illness, you want to limit your time and prevent close contact with individuals who are already sick. If you begin to exhibit any flu-like symptoms, do those you surround yourself with a favor and stay home. You need to rest to recover, and staying home reduces the risk of spreading the illness to others. If you have a fever, experts recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicines.

Woman sleeping

Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is an important part of staying healthy and not getting enough sleep can make you more vulnerable to the common cold, flu and retroviruses. For otherwise healthy adults, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

Practice Good Health Habits
In addition to making sure you are well-rested, there are things you can do in your daily life to help prevent the colds, retroviruses and the flu. First, a healthy diet and exercise can go a long way in keeping you healthy, so be sure that you are following a sensible eating plan and staying active. Next, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as much as possible, because germs from your hands enter the body this way. Cover your mouth and nose any time you cough or sneeze to protect those around you from your illness and clean and disinfect any surfaces that are frequently touched both at home and work to protect yourself from illness.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid germs altogether, but practicing healthy habits can significantly reduce your risk of coming down with the common cold, flu or retrovirus. Remember to wash hands thoroughly and frequently and avoid putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent illness. Keep those around you healthy by using the above tips to avoid colds, the flu and retroviruses.

Woman down with the cold.

Why You Actually Get Sick in Cold Weather

Cold and flu season has officially arrived and it can be difficult to keep yourself from succumbing to one or the other, or both if you’re unlucky. It isn’t just a nasty cold or flu virus that can have you feeling less than great during the winter months, you may also experience a worsening of other health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Research from Cambridge University helps to bring some clarity when it comes to why you actually get sick in cold weather.

What Causes Cold Weather Illness
It’s a fact that illness rates go up during cold weather and there has been little indication as to what is actually causing this. A study conducted by John Todd, professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, concludes that your genes are responsible for the increase in illness and discomfort you experience during the winter. Why does this happen? The theory is that your genes actually change their behavior in response to seasonal changes. This amazing bit of science was discovered by chance by one of Professor Todd’s Ph.D. students. The student noted that during winter, immunity genes were more active in white blood cells than they were at other times of the year. White blood cells are the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off infection and illness.

Scientific Study Provides Support
Once the discovery had been made, Professor Todd launched a research study that included over 16,000 worldwide. The research team, lead by Todd, carefully analyzed blood and tissue samples from participants coming from a large variety of climates and environments. Your body contains around 24,000 genes and the research conducted by Todd and his team analyzed 22,000 human genes, making it a comprehensive study.

What they found was that nearly one-quarter of genes in the human body show signs of altered behavior during seasonal change. The weather in Britain changes significantly with the seasons, much like it does here. Todd found that during the winter months, immune system genes ramped up their activity during the winter months. However, samples from Iceland, where it is cold the majority of the time and there are few seasonal changes, showed that genes were more active prior to the rainy season in Iceland.

Why do Genes Change Behavior and Why Does More Immune Activity Make you Sick?
While the study indicated clearly that there are many genes that alter their behavior according to season changes, the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the study believe that genes receive natural clues from their environment, such as temperature or sunlight, and then respond accordingly.

If your immunity genes in white blood cells are more active during cold, winter months, then why do you still get sick? Shouldn’t more activity equal more protection? Not entirely. Professor Todd explains that the spike in activity can cause your cells to malfunction and attack your body instead of just foreign invaders. Your immunity genes control white blood cells, which triggers inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major component of serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

What Does All of This Mean?
The research all boils down to one fact: if you know more about what’s wrong, you can treat the condition more effectively. Drugs that target inflammation may be more effective when used during the winter months to treat serious conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Professor Todd suggests that perhaps instead of getting vaccinated immediately when fall starts, it may be more beneficial to be vaccinated later in the winter when your body is already primed for immune action.

Staying healthy during winter weather can be a challenge and some places, like at work or school, you can’t fully control your exposure to bacteria and viruses. Understanding what happens to cause illness in cold weather is a promising step in discovering how to more effectively prevent and fight these illnesses as well. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs. Even though your genes alter their behavior, prevention of disease by hand washing and vaccination is still important because these practices can significantly lessen the severity of your illness.

Woman with the flu

Live Well: 5 Feel Better Tips for Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it is estimated that in the United States, each year on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.” You may just consider the flu an uncomfortable nuisance, but it can be quite severe. Flu season is just around the corner, so we’ve compiled a list of our five best feel better tips for flu season.

Vaccine.

Get Vaccinated Early
If you’ve ever been vaccinated with the flu only to end up in a bed for a week, it might be due to the timing of your flu vaccine. The flu vaccine takes roughly two full weeks to take effect, so if you head to your doctor in the middle of a nasty outbreak, you may end up coming down with the flu before your body has sufficient time to build antibodies. Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing the flu, but it is associated with lower hospitalization rates in both children and adults.

Washing hands.

Wash Your Hands
You hear this advice all the time, but with good reason. Sudsing up your hands and scrubbing them often is one of the best ways to prevent coming down with the flu. Dr. Fran Wallach, hospital epidemiologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital and associate professor Medicine, Infectious Diseases as the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says, “[t]he two most important things you can do for yourself to avoid the flu is to get an actual flu vaccine and the second is to have good hand hygiene.” Your hands are in constant contact with germs and many viruses spread when your fingers make contact with your mouth or eyes. Washing your hands helps to eliminate that risk. If you can’t make it to a sink, it’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% on you so you can sanitize when you need to.

Washing hands with soap

Wash Your Hands…Correctly
When washing your hands, use warm water and soap and lather together for at least 20 seconds. As you lather, be sure to get under your nails, between your fingers, the fronts and backs of your hands and go up the wrist a bit. After 20 to 30 seconds, rinse and then dry with a dryer or paper towels. Avoid using shared towels, where germs and bacteria can grow. If you’re using hand sanitizer, be sure to use enough to thoroughly cover the hands (about a nickel sized amount) and rub the solution into your hands for 15 to 20 seconds.

Woman walking on a treadmill.

Get Moving
Engaging regularly in moderate exercise is associated with a stronger immune system and the CDC recommends being active as one way to combat getting sick. Take advantage of the beautiful fall scenery with a hike or park as far away as possible at the mall when doing your holiday shopping to get some extra walking in. If you feel like hitting the gym, head over to the treadmill for some brisk walking, use the stair-climber or sign up for a yoga class.

Woman down with the flu.

Stay Home
Taking a sick day sometimes seems like a complete luxury, but during flu season it’s best to think of staying away from work as a necessity. Not getting enough sleep in itself is a factor in contracting the flu because lack of sleep is associated with lower immune functions, so it’s extra important to be sure that you are getting plenty of sleep when you do have the flu. But staying home isn’t only about you and your rest. The flu can be active in your body without you experiencing any symptoms of the illness and by the time you do display flu symptoms, you are definitely contagious. Avoid getting sicker and infecting those around you by taking a few sick days to fully rest and recuperate. When you absolutely must leave your home, be sure to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing (into your elbow is the recommended method).

Healthy habits and good hygiene are two of the most important factors when it comes to avoiding the flu this season. Children and the elderly are among those with the highest risk of catching the flu, so it is especially important to use these tips if you fall into, or if you care for someone who falls into, those categories. Using these five feel better tips helps you to survive flu season as healthy as possible.