by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.
Looking for a cure for the common cold or flu? Sorry to disappoint. You won’t find one that is proven to work. Trying to boost your immunity to fight off those pesky viruses? You’ve come to the right place. As a reminder, colds and influenza are caused by viruses that affect your upper respiratory system. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. They don’t work on colds or the flu. If you do get one of these nasty viruses, it has to run its course as your body’s immune system fights it to the finish. Here are some ways you can boost and strengthen your immune system to help in the battle.
Let’s get the boring remedies out of the way first. The ones that actually have been proven to work.
- For the full blown, lab diagnosed, rip-roaring influenza, the immunization shot and nose spray do work most of the time. This flu season, the CDC reports that the majority of strains of influenza, so far reported, are related to the 2008-2009 vaccine. In other words, the scientists guessed correctly, and the vaccine or spray is working relatively well. Specifically, 75 percent of the strains tested, so far, are similar to those included in the influenza vaccine. However, the early news regarding the oral antiviral drug, Tamiflu (generic oseltamivir) is not so good. A majority of this season’s early influenza strains has been resistant to this drug, which is prescribed, when you get the flu, to decrease the symptoms and duration. Tamiflu is not working. That is all the more reason to go ahead and get the vaccine. It is not too late in the season, yet.
Other proven methods to boost your immunity are:
- Exercise. One study has shown the flu shot works better in older patients if they walk regularly. It boosts their immune response. Similar responses have been found with Tai Chi and muscle building exercises.
- Good nutrition. A variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get the ideal combination of immunity boosting vitamins and minerals.
- Physical and emotional stress weaken your immunity. Get plenty of rest and sleep, keep a positive outlook and don’t overwork, or even over-exercise. Laughter helps, as does meditation and prayer.
- Don’t smoke or be around the second hand variety. Children, especially, should avoid exposure.
For more details on these proven methods, and more, read Dr. Elizabeth Pector’s totally non-boring article titled, oddly enough, “How to Boost Your Immunity”.
Next post, I will write about which nutritional supplements have been shown to boost immunity against the colds and flu.
I know you have other valuable tips. Please share.
Photo by James Gathany.
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