Common Cold and Flu are some of the most common medical illnesses. Each year, millions of people suffer from colds and flu, yet there is no effective medical treatment. Why? Because viruses causing these illnesses keep changing their chemical structure. That's why you do not acquire permanent immunity after an episode of the flu or common cold as you do with other viral illnesses, such as the Measles.
For the same reason, Flu vaccines are not very effective either, although millions of Americans receive these shots every year.Majority of them end up getting the Flu anyway. The effectiveness of Flu vaccine to prevent flu has varied from 10% to 60% over the last decade. In 2015, the effectiveness was only 23% according to CDC. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2015/01/15/CDC-Flu-vaccine-only-23-percent-effective-this-season/2641421372361/?rel=1261423853958
Therefore, most people stay at risk for developing flu even if you got the flu shot.
Usual Medical Treatment may Cause more Harm than Good.
Usual Medical treatment of the Flu and Common Colds is aimed at controlling the symptoms. These treatments are readily available over the counter. It is a multi-million dollar industry. These remedies primarily consist of a nasal decongestant, an antihistamine, a cough suppressant and a pain reliever.
Each one of these ingredients can cause severe side-effects. For example, a nasal decongestant can raise blood pressure, cause rapid heart beat and may even cause a heart attack. Most antihistamines often cause drowsiness and its serious consequences, such as a car accident.They can also cause acute retention of urine and an acute episode of glaucoma. Cough suppressants really do not work except for brief periods. Pain relievers such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol in the USA) can cause liver damage. Other pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen, Naprosyn and Naproxen, can cause stomach upset and rarely, bleeding from the stomach and acute renal shut down in patients with diabetes and any cardiovascualr disease or chronic renal disease.
In addition, here is the biggest problem: These treatments often prolong the illness, leading to prolonged use of these medications which culminates in the unnecessary prescription of Antibiotics with their own potential serious side-effects.
How do these treatments prolong the illness?
You need to understand how your body responds to an attack by an army of viruses: The affected areas, such as the nose, sinuses and throat, get inflammed, which enhances blood circulation to these areas, bringing in an army of Your Immune Cells to fight off the invading viruses. As a result, there is an increased production of secretions in the nose and throat area. In addition to killing off viruses, the body also flushes away the invading viruses in these secretions.
Now, consider how a nasal decongestant works: These drugs reduce the blood flow to the nose and throat area. How does an antihistamine work? By drying up the secretions in the nose, sinuses and and throat area. Isn't it obvious that these treatments work against your immune system and helps to prolong your illness?
Another problem: For your immune system to effectively fight off viruses, it needs full support from your entire body. In order to conserve energy, the body must rest and provide as much energy to the immune system as it needs. That's why there is sneezing, watery eyes, body aches and pains, exhaustion, fever and headaches. All of these symptoms force you to take rest. However, you decide to take the medicines that temporarlly control your symptoms and you continue with your work and other activities instead of resting. Once, the effect of theses medicines wears off, you feel worse. Then, you take the next dose and the vicious cycle continues.
A More Physiological, Safe and Effective Approach
Here is an outline how I treat cold/flu. This approach is physiological, boosts up your own immune system and is very effective. It shortens the course of the illness and has No side-effects.
1. Rest, which includes no reading, watching TV, surfing the internet or chit-chatting. All of these mental activities consume a lot of energy.
2. Stay warm.
3. Local Heat Application on nose, eyes, ears and throat.
4. Frequent cleansing of nose and mouth with tolerably hot water. Steam inhalation once a day in the morning.
5. Drink large amounts of warm liquids.
6. Eat plenty of food if you have cold. But people with Flu often have nausea. Eat chicken-vegetable soup and other liquids. Eat plenty of fresh fruits including oranges, grapes, bananas, apples and pears.
7. Vitamin D: Triple the dose of my daily Vitamin D3 for three days
8. Zinc throat lozenges or spray.
9. Vitamin C and Echenacea in tablet or liquid.
10. You can find over-the-counter preparations containing these natural ingredients.
In addition, Anti-flu-virus drugs againstshould be considered in persons with compromised immune system such as the elderly, children under the age of 4 and people on immunosuppressive drugs.
The Choice is Yours!
I just shared with you my own experience and thoughts about the treatment of the Flu and Common Colds. It is not my intention to convince you one way or the other. Ultimately, the choice is all yours!
This article was written by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, FACE. Dr. Zaidi specializes in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Dr. Zaidi is a former assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
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