The cold is here and the colds are coming!
Cold and flu season is fast approaching with the start of our chilly season. Calling it a season almost makes it sound like a pleasant, happy event – like the holiday season, or ‘chocolate season’ as some folks call the Halloween – Easter months ;) But cold and flu season is a dreaded time of year. Most colds and flus are minor viral infections that the vast majority of people heal from completely, thanks to our extremely intelligent immune systems.
However, the discomfort of being achey, feverish, congested, or coughing combined with the necessity of missing work or cancelling social plans makes those pesky infections much more than an annoyance. Last year I saw a number of patients with a post-viral cough that lasted weeks! Who knows what this year’s batch of viruses will bring. Thankfully though, I have a whole box of tools to prevent an infection and to make it shorter and less painful when it does hit. (Remember – it’s actually good to get a brief cold once or twice a year, it gives your immune system a work out!) Probably the first thing I talk to patients about is supplementing vitamin D – it’s no surprise that we’re not getting enough of the sunlight vitamin when our day shrinks to about 8 hours. The doses I prescribe might sound high, but there is plenty of research to support them as being safe and effective. (Doses vary based on the individual – ask me if you’re wondering how much you need!) I also rely heavily on herbs like Echinacea or Astragalus to stimulate our white blood cells which are the main force of the immune system army fighting infections. I also love prescribing simple home treatments that make patients look goofy but feel awesome – like steam inhalations and wet socks. Whether or not someone gets the flu shot, we’re all bombarded by multiple viruses all year and we live indoors with all those circulating germs all winter, so it’s wise to help the body any way we can with healthy food, sleep, and appropriate supplements. I’ve already started my immune boosting program – bring it on bugs!