H1N1- A naturopathic perspective
There is no doubt of the global frenzy over this year’s strain of the flu. Headlines of a healthy hockey boy touching everyone’s emotions and confusing the nation on what to do! Making an informed decision about the vaccine can be very challenging at this time as new information is being updated daily. Any decision about your health should be made in consultation with your health care providers.
Some statistics for comparison:
- From Aug to Oct 31, 2009- 948 people have been hospitalized with H1N1 in Canada and 15.5% of cases were admitted to intensive care. In the US, the estimated number of people who may die from H1N1 if they catch it is estimated at 0.05%.
- As of Nov 10, 2009, 135 people have died due to H1N1 in Canada. The number of deaths (due to influenza or influenza-like symptoms) reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2004 was 29610 and 67811 in 2005. These numbers vary depending on statistics including confirmed laboratory cases.
- As of Oct 24, 2009 there have been 4 deaths due to H1N1 in children under the age of 16. By comparison, in 2003-2004 there were 4 deaths, 2005-2006 had 5 deaths in which 3/5 had no underlying conditions, and 2 deaths in 2007-2008, all due to influenza (seasonal flu).
- As of Nov 2009, the World Health Organization has reported 6,000 deaths worldwide due to the H1N1 Pandemic
Recommendations to decrease your risk of serious infection:
- You are what you eat. Sugar can suppress your immune system.
- Drink lots of water/tea to flush the system. Your mucous membranes are your first line of defense and need to be moist. Keep a humidifier in your home.
- Do not share any objects that contain saliva.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Avoid touching your face as much as possible especially in public places.
- Wear essential oils (lavender, oregano, thyme etc.) that act as antibacterials when going in public spaces to help kill off infection as you breath in.
- Note the flu virus can live on hard surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic for up to 48 hours, and on soft surfaces such as paper, cloth and tissue for 8-12 hours. Keep your home clean.
- Avoid visiting or going to work if sick. Stay home and REST up to seven days. The virus can send the immune system into overdrive and therefore REST is critical.
- Good quality sleep keeps the immune system working optimal. Mild to moderate fever is an important natural defense system against infection, therefore be cautious of lowering them. Keep a thermometer at home!
- Stay informed to local outbreaks in your area.
- Be aware of emergency warning signs. In children, keep an eye out for fast or trouble breathing, bluish skin, lack of thirst, extreme irritability, flu symptoms that improve then return with fever or worse cough or fever with rash. In adults be aware of difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, sudden dizziness or confusion or severe/persistent vomiting.
- If choosing to vaccinate, ensure you child is healthy before vaccination and review vaccine contraindications, cautions and side effects with your health care provider. See your naturopathic doctor about natural vaccine support pre and post vaccination and remember to stay in the doctor’s office for 15 minutes after vaccine in case of an allergic reaction.
- Very rare side effects (1 in 100,000) of the vaccination include severe allergic reactions, inflammation of the blood vessels and neurological disorders such as neuritis or Guillain-Barre Syndrome
For up to date H1N1 government information, you can visit www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fluwatch/. Be in touch with your health care provider for optimal care.
The best way is to avoid getting the flu. The majority of people infected with H1N1 will only experience mild symptoms and recover rapidly without the need for medical care. Do not panic; make smart informed decisions about your health.
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