That time again – flu season

Published 8:23 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2009

During this time of year there is a refreshing nip in the air. There is also a familiar but unwelcomed sigh that winter is not too far off. Flu season. &bsp;

The peak of flu season occurs anywhere between November and March. Flu (influenza) is a respiratory illness whose symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose, gastrointestinal distress (upset stomach, cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea), sore throat, body aches, head ache, and chills. Each year in the U.S. over 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related symptoms, and about 36,000 die from these same symptoms.

Influenza is usually spread one of two ways. One way is by respiratory droplets that are propelled from person to person through coughing or sneezing. (By the way, these droplets can travel up to three feet from a cough or sneeze.) The other is from touching respiratory droplets from an infected person, either on another person or on an object and then toughing ones own nose, mouth, or eyes.

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I do personally recommend that most healthy individuals take the seasonal influenza vaccine. Here is a list of those who should take the vaccine, and those who should not.

Those who should: Pregnant women, children aged 6 and up, people 50 years and older, people any age with chronic health conditions, people who live in long term care facilities, like nursing homes, and people who are in contact and care for others who are at high risk for complications from flu, like healthcare workers and care givers to children and the elderly.

Those who should not take the influenza vaccine: People who have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past, people who are allergic to chicken eggs, people who have developed a condition called Guillian-Barre Syndrom(GBS) within six weeks of getting the vaccine, Children less than six months of age (not approved for children less than six months), and people who are ill with a fever (they should wait until they recover).

Now while its true that I do recommend folks take the seasonal influenza vaccine, it is equally true that I am even more an advocate of naturally boosting ones own immune system. A strong immune system is by far and away the best way to fight off the numerous microbials&bsp; that attack our bodies every minute of every day.

In the second part of this column, to appear Monday, I will describe easy ways to keep your immune system strong and fighting for you.

David Crocker of Landrum has served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., strength coach, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, and Converse college equestrian team. He taught four semesters at USC-Union. David is also a regular guest of the Pam Stone Show.~ Diet and Exercise written by David Crocker.