Over the years, more and more people are getting the flu vaccine to stop the flu. In fact, government agencies and medical professionals are often advising people to do so.
Studies conducted in 2017 and 2018 indicate that flu shots managed to stop the flu or at the least reduce its virulent nature in up to 51 percent of children at a higher risk of contracting the flu, 65 percent in healthy children, and significantly lessened the chances of contracting the condition and its severity in adults. Older adults and younger children under five are more at risk of getting the flu, according to data.
Influenza, or more commonly the flu, is a respiratory condition that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is a viral infection and most people are at their most contagious within the first 3–4 days of the illness.
In some people, the onset of the flu is gradual. While in others, it comes on quite suddenly. You may feel fine one day, then terrible the next. Early symptoms associated with the flu include tiredness, a fever, aches, pains, and chills, in addition to a cough and a sore throat.
The flu virus spreads through the air in droplets from sneezing, coughing, or even speaking. If you inhale the droplets, you become infected with the virus. You can also become infected by touching objects with droplets containing the virus on them and inadvertently transfer them to your mouth (e.g., while eating) or rubbing your eyes. If you have the flu virus, you can transfer the virus to people who are up to six feet away from you. And neither you nor they will know.
Because flu symptoms make you feel so ill, many people will do whatever they feel it takes to stop the flu. In addition to preventative flu shots, people often use nasal sprays, pain-killers, inhalers, and even antibiotics in an effort to stop the flu. Although antibiotics are occasionally prescribed for flu-like symptoms, they can only treat bacterial infections and not viruses. Therefore, taking antibiotics when you have the flu may actually do more harm than good because the antibiotics may not be as effective at a later date when and if a bacterial infection sets in. At the same time, many of the efforts used to stop the flu do not target the virus itself but only the symptoms.
The flu can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Most healthy people do not experience complications. However, certain groups are at a higher risk of potential complications, including pregnant women, people over the age of 65, young children and babies, and people with certain pre-existing health conditions. In these high-risk groups, stopping the flu could mean the difference between life or death.
The immune systems of children under five are still developing leaving them open to complications.
Pregnant women are at risk since pregnancy alters the chemistry of the body, particularly in the lungs and heart. Moreover, having the flu while pregnant places the unborn child at risk because the mother and fetus share the same blood. Unborn children are at a higher risk of developing brain and spinal abnormalities and premature birth as a result of the flu.
The aging process weakens the immune system, leaving you more open to contracting a flu infection. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of flu-related deaths occur in elderly people.
If you are suffering from a pre-existing condition, the flu virus will weaken your body further, making it harder to manage the pre-existing health problem as your body focuses on battling the flu. During the 2017/2018 flu year, over half of the patients admitted to the hospital with the flu had pre-existing heart conditions. Other pre-existing conditions put you at a greater risk of severe flu complications include:
Luckily, most instances of the flu are relatively mild, especially when the affected individual is healthy. Therefore, bed rest and plenty of fluids should get you up and running again in no time. If you’re not so lucky, certain complications can arise and may need professional attention. Seek professional advice if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Stress is responsible for your body’s so-called fight-or-flight response. The offending stress can psychological, physical, or even environmental in nature. Or the flu, as your body responds to the viral invasion.
Your hypothalamus perceives viruses as a threat, and as a result, your brain sends out chemical messengers to your pituitary gland, which in turn, sends its own messengers to the adrenal glands, resulting in increased production of the stress hormone cortisol. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands—referred to as the HPA axis—work together as part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System.
Under normal conditions, your body’s cortisol production returns to normal once the stress has passed. But when the stress persists, your body’s cortisol levels will remain elevated or may even increase further.
The viral invasion causes the immune system kicks into gear, resulting in an inflammatory response. Cortisol levels stay high, acting to suppress the inflammation. While this may seem like a positive effect, long-term suppression of inflammation can lead to an unbalanced immune system, more inflammation—and in turn, more stress. Your entire body will ultimately become affected, not just the Inflammation Circuit.
In addition to acting as a suppressor of inflammation, cortisol also plays a role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and raises your blood sugar levels when your body experiences stress. This provides your body with the surge of energy it needs to stay alert and ready to either flee or fight. Cortisol also increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
Aldosterone is another hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, that helps regulate water retention and helps controls potassium and sodium levels.
If the stress persists and your adrenals will be asked to produce increasing amounts of cortisol over a prolonged period of time, they may become worn out, instead, leading to low levels of cortisol. Again, this may sound like a good thing, but the opposite is true. This could be a sign that you are moving towards the later stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), which can be debilitating. If you’re suffering from this condition, the flu virus can have a devastating effect on your health as your body may not be able to deal with the infection, including the inflammatory response and its consequences. Common symptoms of AFS include:
The above list does not include the set of symptoms associated with the flu virus.
So, if you’re suffering from AFS, taking appropriate measures to stop the flu may be crucial to preventing an accelerated decline in your health.
A shot to stop the flu has its pros and its cons.
You can take some other basic measures to stop the flu naturally:
Looking after your adrenal health is one of the best ways to stop the flu. A viral infection causes inflammation that, if left unchecked, can have devastating consequences, even death. If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, you should take all the steps you can to avoid the flu. Especially if you’re on the road to recovery since the flu could set you back weeks or months. You may not be able to stop the flu permanently but taking the necessary precautions can go a long way towards speeding up your recovery. Particularly, if you consider the potential consequences of contracting the flu when your adrenal health is compromised.
© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Proper adrenal support may not stop the flu in everyone. But it may help your body deal with the flu virus more effectively and promote faster healing. Healthy adrenal glands are better equipped to produce the extra inflammation-fighting hormones your body needs this winter.