By Qineng Tan
The holiday season is just around the corner. But don't
forget this is flu season as well. Generally, most flu activity in the US occurs
from November through March. In an average year, more than 100,000 Americans are
hospitalized, and more than 20,000 deaths are related to the flu.
The "flu," also called "influenza," is a highly contagious
respiratory infection. The flu, compared with the common cold, often causes more
severe illness. People with the flu can have a fever, (usually 100 to 103 in
adults and often even higher in children), cough, sore throat, extreme fatigue,
muscle aches, headaches, runny nose, and watery eyes. Children can also
experience vomiting and diarrhea. Some older people might not suffer from fever.
Flu-related complications can occur at any age; however, older people or those
with chronic health problems, particularly heart or lung disease, are much more
likely to develop serious complications and influenza infection than those that
are younger and healthier.
The best way to treat a disease is to prevent it. It is
absolutely a bad idea to wait to dig a well until you are thirsty. So, do
something to enhance your Qi now, before the influenza virus shoots you down.
Chinese herbs such as Huang Qi (Astralagus) and Dang Shen (Codonopsis) are used
to strengthen Qi and to boost the immune system. Herbs such as Ban Lan Gen
(Isatis) and Da Qing Ye (Daqingye) are commonly used as anti-virus herbs in
In China depending on the type of virus, special anti-virus
teas are usually given to public schools to help prevent illness during the flu
Acupuncture can help rebalance energy, regulate the Qi and
stimulate the immune system. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that
acupuncture and herbal medicine in particular reduce the incidence of upper
respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of time one is ill. When you
get sick with the flu, do not wait. Start acupuncture treatments in the early
stages. It may help eliminate pathogenic influences.
Regular exercise of sufficient intensity (to warm you up, but
not to make you sweat- not overdoing it) has been shown to reduce the incidence
of the flu. Exercise such as Qi-gong, Tai-Chi, and Yoga can help reduce
emotional and physical stress. It also strengthens the immune system and
prevents disease from arising.
Keep a good diet. Make sure to eat a full balanced diet that
is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Foods containing beta-carotene
are thought to help boost your immune system and keep your mucous membranes and
upper respiratory system healthy and harder to infect. Carrots, broccoli, sweet
potatoes, garlic and tomatoes are high in beta-carotene. Eating lots of them
during the flu season may help you avoid illness, or recover sooner.
Drink water to prevent dehydration. Ample liquids can help
your body flush the invaders and the debris from their battle with your immune
system. Chicken soup is recommended because it adds extra water and expels
mucous to help you get rid of the illness. Try to drink an 8-ounce glass of
water every hour. This is very important to help your body recover from the flu.
Extra rest will help you save energy for battling the
illness. This is particularly important if you became sick when you were already
tired or run down. Get more sleep and take a nap in the afternoon; it will help
you recover faster.
You have my best wishes in staying healthy!