Influenza virus, Rhinovirus, Norovirus, Human Metapneumovirus, Respiratory Syncytial virus (RSV), Rotvirus, etc, give a whole new meaning to “going viral.” For week 5 we are going to put a little spin on “Me Time” and talk about keeping you healthy in this viral environment. We are seeing quite an influx of viruses right now, so I thought we would discuss common viral misconceptions and then some preventative measures to hopefully keep you and your “luvies” as healthy as possible. How many of you got a flu shot this Fall? Wait, wait, wait, before you roll your eyes and stop reading, hear me out. I will keep it as fun and simple as I can. Prior to the healthcare industry mandating that hospital employees receive an annual flu shot, I wouldn’t take one. My excuses ranged from “they don’t work” to “they give you the flu” to “my immune system is my superpower.” Once the mandate was issued, I tried everything to avoid the flu shot and was successful for a few years figuring this was just a phase. But the healthcare industry was serious and started removing people from the schedule if they didn’t take their flu shot. Wait, what? I can’t work if I don’t take a flu shot?? Uh oh …. and so I took my first flu shot. Holy Moly was I ever miserable for the next 48 hours!! I was in bed with weakness, fatigue, body aches, and chills despite my consumption of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, water, vitamin C, zinc, etc., etc., etc. When the 50th hour arrived and I was feeling like I might live to see another day, I became angry. That darn flu shot GAVE me the flu!!! This is EXACTLY why I have always refused to take them!!! I stomped my little butt into the Employee Health office a few days later, met with the evil flu shot nurse and told her exactly what I thought about that horrible shot and I was NEVER NEVER doing that again. She was patient and kind, listened to my sassy, disgruntled rhetoric and then schooled me. You know that look your fur baby gives you, head cocked to the side, eyebrows raised, ears up? Well, that is how I looked in her office. Is what she told me really true or just things “they” have been taught to say to justify their “evil, flu shot for everyone” plan? IF everything she told me is true, then why in the world don’t we know this information? I mean, we are in healthcare and have limited understanding about these things, what about the general public? And so began my capstone project.
Let’s start with a very general explanation regarding the two most frequent statements about the flu shot.
#1 The flu shot gives you the flu.
So you have these cells in your body called White Blood Cells (WBC) who act as your “army” to fight off any “invaders” that can cause illness/ infection, like viruses. The flu shot introduces a small amount of the (killed/inactivated) virus into your body to expose your fighter army cells to the “bad guy.” If this virus returns they are able to quickly detect the invader, recognize him as a “bad guy,” attack, and kill it. Unfortunately you must exhibit some of the symptoms of the virus (fever, chills, body aches, etc) to let your army cells know the virus is present, hence the reason you may feel poorly after receiving the vaccine. This is what we call mounting an immune response and this is exactly what the flu shot is supposed to do.
#2 The flu shot doesn’t work.
Actually, the flu shot works quite well. We need to understand HOW it works because most of us have it wrong. Did you see all the commercials several years ago about “I got the flu vaccine for him,” (little baby boy) or “I got my flu shot for Grandma”? The point behind those commercial stories is that we want to protect the everyone, but especially those with immature, weakened, and/or compromised immune systems, from influenza exposure as it can lead to severe illness, disability, and even death. As we pass the virus around, it mutates ever so slightly with each person it inhabits because no two people are alike. Our biggest worry is that mutation will transform into a novel virus, something we have not seen before and, therefore, have limited or no resources to treat (think flu pandemic in 2009). Receiving the flu shot can minimize the potential for novel (new) virus mutations, offer protection from, and if contracted, minimize symptoms for, the influenza strain circulating in our community. Yep, that is a mouthful! Here is the simple version, please get your flu shot (today, now, soon) 🤞
You know what they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” #truth
🤲WASH YOUR HANDS!!! The #1 way to prevent the spread of disease is hand washing. Use soap and water, bring to foam, and scrub all surfaces of your hands, palms, under fingernails, in between fingers, tops of hands, and wrists for at least 20 seconds! Dry. If possible, follow with hand sanitizer. Rub it in until it dries completely. Remember, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to wash with soap (any soap) and water …. hand sanitizer does not kill some viruses, but soap and water will.
🤧 Sneeze and cough into fabric…. like your shirt sleeve. Yeah, I know Mom said your shirt isn’t a napkin, but these days we sure want it to be your handkerchief. Turn your face into your shoulder or elbow so that the fabric catches your “germs.” This helps to minimize airborne transmission of illnesses and keep your hands free of those germs, as well. PSA. Friends don’t “spray” friends with germs or rub germs all over hard surfaces (dirty hands). The people around you thank you.
👀 Keep a 3 foot “bubble.” While we certainly recommend that people who are ill stay home, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. In these cases, try to keep at least 3 feet between yourself and the ill person. This can dramatically limit your exposure to the largest particles of a cough or sneeze. However, the “germ cloud” full of the smaller particles from coughs and sneezes can travel 15-25 feet, hover in the air for up to 10 minutes, and travel at speeds of 50-200mph. Impressive, aye? Now we may be quick on our feet, but we are not THAT quick!! Remember that distance is a barrier, so stay home and/or stay away from others when you are ill.
🍊 Consider Vitamin C. Recently, I was listening to NPR and heard about a doctor treating septic patients with Vitamin C successfully. Excuse me? I’ve never been a huge advocate for Vitamin C, but this was extremely interesting to me. An ICU doctor used a common, inexpensive vitamin to treat a deadly condition and it helped improve their condition? Tell me more! Sepsis is very serious inflammatory response to an infection in your body … it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime…. and almost half of the people that develop this condition die from it. Anyway, if vitamin C works for the critically ill, then there must be some benefits to those of us that are just sick, right?! There are many forms of vitamin C available to us, talk to your health care provider to see which one is right for you, and make sure you have some on hand in case you get ill. This can be as simple as eating citrus fruits and guess what?? They are IN SEASON right now! Since we are in peak flu season (October – March) I take a dose every day, just to give myself an extra layer of support. I also just got some delicious red grapefruit. YUM!
Here is a link to the article I was talking about https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521096488/doctor-turns-up-possible-treatment-for-deadly-sepsis
👃 Nasal Washing. Working in the health care field, I swear by this!! Where does influenza live? Our sinuses! How do we evict it? Flush it out! Ok, if you have ever been tested for influenza, you completely get this. A really long cotton swab is inserted gently (shoved, lol), up your nostril so deep that you worry they are going to poke your brain, right?!?! Well, influenza lives in your sinuses and we have to get the swab to your sinus to get a sample to confirm your diagnosis. As unpleasant as the swab and nasal washing sounds, it is better than having the flu, trust me! Nasal washing isn’t sexy (at all), but it flushes your sinuses and changes the pH of the sinus cavuty. Win! Win! We evict the flu bug (flushing) AND change it to an inhospitable environment (powder packet) for the virus. I don’t know about you, but I tend to not stay in places that I am uncomfortable for very long. The best method is to use a squeeze bottle type system so you can actually put a little pressure behind the washing. Note, LITTLE pressure. I do this in the shower because, as I said, it is not sexy at all. It took some time to get used to the whole process and yes, I gagged myself on more than one occasion (eat breakfast AFTER nasal washing). Even the salt water up the nose sensation got better, eventually. I started by using a half powder packet in full bottle of water and increased to a full packet as I got used to it. This has been one of the best recommendations my doctor gave me and I use it year round because it even helps with my seasonal allergies! Anyway, give it some thought and do what works best for you.
💦 Fluids. Oh yeah, I’m back to telling you to drink plenty of. water, again. Remember from week 1, hydrating our army cells keeps them functioning at their highest level. If you happen to contract the flu, you want these guys at superhero, ninja, military grade strength! The other part of this hydration thing is that your organs will need to be as equally high performing as your army cells, so once the fighters kick the viruses’ tail, the organs flush ’em right outta there. It makes the perfect Bye Bye Bug team! That is all 😁.
💤 Sleeeeeep, my pretties! For those of us that “run with our hair on fire,” this is the hardest part of our self care routine. I will spare you more boring research and statistics by saying this, we regenerate (heal) and build up immunity (protection) the best and fastest while we sleep. Simple as that. So grab a book, fuzzy pjs, a snuggle partner, or whatever sends you to LaLaLand the fastest, and get some ZzzZZzz’s.
My secret weapon!
I love, love, love this essential oil and use it frequently. There are many versions of it so find the one that is best for you and go for it. 1-Diffuse it. At home use whatever diffuser you choose, mix oil with distilled water (to help machine last longer). Diffuse it in your vehicle with a power port diffuser, diffuser discs, or create this … hot glue a pom pom to a clothes pin, place a few drops of oil on pom pom, clip clothes pin to car vent, refresh oil as needed. You know I used a glitter pom pom lol. 2- Salve it. Now this version is super scientific, so pay close attention. Mix drops of essential oil with carrier oil/lotion of your choice and apply. Whew, glad we got through that lol! If I had to guess on my measurements I would say I use 3-5 drops in 1oz of organic coconut oil. I love to rub this mixture on the soles of my feet, put socks on, and go to bed! I have also applied it to my chest (like your Mom used to rub that vapor salve on when you were sick) and I do apply it to the inside of my nostrils before I go to highly infectious environments (people gatherings, work, and travel lol). 3- Bath it. Make bombs, fizzies, and soaks for your bathing/showering pleasure. Add it to whatever bath recipe you enjoy! I grab a mason jar, fill half way with Epsom salt, add splash of organic coconut oil, add drops of essential oil, cover (this is super important), shake, adjust recipe to suit your needs.
Alright, this should get you started on ways to keep you from “going viral.” Stay tuned for weekly practical inspirations, creations, and tips to savor life. If you just can’t get enough of my eclectic energy you can follow me at fb.me/thediyauntie for more frequent “SQUIRREL” posts! HaHa!
Keep it healthy and happy. See you soon!