Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious, prominent infection that generally occurs in annual outbreaks. Although both the flu and the common cold are both respiratory infections the flu is more severe and tends to affects the lungs as well as the muscles and joints.
In the past, influenza pandemics have been responsible for a large number of deaths, including over 40 million fatalities after World War One. Even less serious strains involved in influenza outbreaks can cause substantial morbidity and significant mortality. It is estimated that on average influenza causes 200,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths per year.
|Causes||Infection, Hygiene, Stress, Environmental Toxins|
|See Also||Respiratory Conditions, Bronchitis, Pneumonia|
|Books||Books on Respiratory Conditions|
|Articles||Articles on Respiratory Conditions|
- 1 Naturopathic Assessment
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Naturopathic Treatment
- 4 References
The risk of getting the flu depends on two factors: personal susceptibility and exposure to a pathogen. The naturopathic assessment looks at both aspects. The stronger a person's vitality the less likely they will be affected by exposure to respiratory viruses that cause the flu. The factors that are associated with increased susceptibility to the influenza virus include:
- The flu is caused by coming into contact with the influenza virus.
- Public Setting
- Influenza spreads easily in dense public settings. The closing of schools and workplaces as been shown to be effective in preventing the spread of influenza during outbreaks.
- Air Travel
- Air travel increases the risk of transmission of influenza, and may facilitate wider spread of influenza globally.
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Use of personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, and gowns when in contact with infected individuals can decrease the chance of getting an infection.
- Medical Treatments
- Immunosuppression in organ transplantation, stem cell transplantation, and hemodialysis, puts individuals at higher risk of both influenza infection and complications from influenza infections.
- Prescription Medications
- Any prescription medication that suppresses the immune system increases the likelihood of getting an infection and can result in infections such as influenza being more severe.
- Poor breathing or improper breathing increases the risk of influenza.
- Imaging Studies
- Chest x-rays to rule out viral pneumonia, and to investigate for interstitial pneumonitis may be indicated in some individuals.
Related Symptoms and Conditions
Possible complications related to influenza infection include:
Influenza typically has an incubation period of 1-2 days followed by an acute onset of symptoms, including:
Some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms including:
Comparing Upper Respiratory Infection (Common Cold) and Flu Symptoms
|Symptom||Upper Respiratory Infection (Common Cold) Symptom||Flu Symptom|
|Aches, pains||Slight||Common, often severe|
|Chest Discomfort||Mild to moderate||Common to severe|
|Cough||Hacking (a short, weak repeating cough), productive cough (cough that produce phlegm)||Dry, unproductive cough (cough not accompanied by expectoration)|
|Extreme exhaustion||Never||Early and prominent|
|Fatigue||Mild||Moderate to severe, can last up to 2-3 weeks|
|Fever||Rare||Common, high (102-104F or 39-40C); last for days.|
|Sore throat||Common, often initial symptom||Sometimes|
|Other possible health problem||Usually no||pneumonia, bacterial infections|
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Influenza is generally considered a self limiting disease, which means that it will typically resolve on its own within 5 to 7 days when a person is healthy and provides the body with the support that it requires for healing. The following recommendations may speed recovery and minimize any risk of complications.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Home Care strategies include:
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Drink plenty of warm liquids such as water, diluted vegetable juices, soups and herb teas). Try to drink 8 ounces of water every hour.
- Avoid sugar, including natural sugars such as honey, orange juice, and fructose because simple sugars depress the immune system and can "feed" the infection.
- Ensure adequate protein consumption. Protein requirement may be over 1g/kg/day for adequate immune function
- Exercise is preventative against infection, but when you have influenza avoid a lot of exercise. Focus on resting and allowing the body to recover.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for influenza include:
- Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Elder (Sambucus nigra), Garlic (Allium sativum), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium),Golden Rod (Solidago virgaurea), Gumweed (Grindelia camporum), Horse-heal (Inula helenium), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinale), Mullein (Verbascum thapus), Olive (Olea europaea), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Thuja (Thuja occidentalis), Vervain (Verbena officinalis), White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare), Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Yarrow (Achileea millefolium),
- Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the varied presentations of the the flu, and treatment is dependent on detailed assessment. Treatment principles utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine to address influenza include:
- Wind Cold
- Wind Heat
- Qi Deficiency
- Nasal Irrigation
- The use of a Neti pot, or other saline nasal spray may help with congestion associated with an upper respiratory tract infection.
- Contrast Showers
- Alternating hot and cold during showers may reduce the duration and frequency of cold symptoms.
Specialized Naturopathic Therapies
Specialized therapies that are used to treat influenza include:
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
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