You are probably not thinking of this flu season as the perfect chance to get to spend a week in bed feeling like garbage. One thing you can be sure of before and during the 2017-2018 flu season is that your best treatments will come in the form of preparation and prevention.
By implementing some simple healthy habits as well as safeguards ahead of time, you can reduce your risk of having to be sidelined by influenza. If you do end up getting sick with the flu this season, your preparation could also serve to significantly reduce the amount of time you spend laid up.
You should know that data about the influenza virus is tracked by the World Health Organization, in order to assess what needs to be included in the vaccines that are made available as the virus spreads. It is normally tracked from the southern hemisphere, since their flu season happens a couple months ahead of time, to the northern hemisphere.
In looking at the data so far, this flu season is shaping up to have its fair share of challenges. Australia has already been reporting record-setting numbers of cases as well as hospitalizations or deaths. The New England Journal of Medicine has already released a memo, as of November 2017, in an effort to raise awareness and warn doctors as well as other medical professionals in the United States.
Basics of the Flu
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus. It is spread around the world in an annual outbreak. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can begin as few as two days after you have been exposed to the virus. You may find that some symptoms last less than a week, while some may persist up to two.
Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Runny nose
- High fever
- Muscle pains
- Sore Throat
You should also be aware that there can be complications of influenza which may include worsening pre-existing health conditions, viral pneumonia, sinus infection, as well as secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Prevention and Treatment
The first step in any prevention of disease is going to be regular exercise and good nutrition. Working out can significantly boost your immune system and cardiovascular system so that your body is running like a well-oiled machine. Making sure that you are eating a good diet can provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to fight off illness as well as keep you strong throughout the year. It is also important to make sure that you are staying properly hydrated as a preventative measure as well as a course of treatment.
You may also want to consider getting a flu vaccine. It can be an effective means for developing antibodies to protect you against infection this season. You should also make sure that you have the appropriate tools to check for and monitor certain symptoms in the event of infection. Having a good thermometer for monitoring fever can help you effectively assess your internal body temperature and warn you if the fever sustains or rises higher than safe levels. In children younger than three months, it is imperative to seek medical help immediately if a fever is present.
Ayurvedic Perspective and Approach
Seasonal flu in Ayurveda can be attributed to an aggravation of your doshas (Kapha, Pitta, and Vata) as well as a deficiency of your Ojas, or immunity. A lack of Ojas is a loss of immunity on a physical level and a reduction of mental strength at your mental level.
Beej-bhumi is an Ayurvedic theory that means “seed and land”. This theory states that your body is like the land while infections are akin to seeds. If your body is rich with ama, toxins that arise from poor digestion, and has a lack of Ojas, then infections will view your body as a fertile ground. In this case, the seeds will be encouraged to sprout. However, if your body is free from ama and you have good Ojas, then the seeds will not sprout.
The key to health in Ayurveda is maintaining balance. When you lack Ojas and have excess ama, then you should eat foods that can boost your immunity and promote good digestion. Immunity boosting foods include those that are organic, fresh, and easily digested. Some of these foods are fresh, organic vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Lassi, which is a digestion enhancing probiotic drink made from water and fresh yogurt can be especially helpful. In combination with immunity-boosting foods, you should practice regular exercise to promote physical strength such as Yoga, walking, or running.
In both Western medicine and Ayurveda, there is a need for harmony. You should always try to balance exercise, diet, and indulgences, as well as ensure that you are keeping your home and body clean to best safeguard yourself.