Flu season is always unpredictable, even for those whose job it is to monitor and predict how the flu season will shake out each year, but this year is proving more unusual than most. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself this flu season.
Why is this flu season so unusual?
Influenza B, the viral strain that usually circulates toward the end of flu season, instead emerged first this year, shifting usual transmission patterns. A vaccine mismatch and reduced immunity to influenza B may have contributed to the early and severe start of this flu season, according to an article in Time Magazine. Experts are now predicting that this season’s flu epidemic may be one of the worst on record if infections continue at the current rate. Heading into the new year, the California Department of Public Health stated that influenza activity had reached “widespread” levels and was continuing to increase.
What’s the difference between Influenza A and Influenza B?
While symptoms of Influenza A and Influenza B can be similar, the main difference between the two strains is who it can affect. Strains of influenza B are exclusively contracted by humans, while A can be carried and spread by animals. Both strains are transmitted mainly by respiratory droplets from coughing and contact with an infected person. Influenza A viruses are the only type known to cause pandemics.
So far this season, influenza B Victoria viruses have caused the most lab-confirmed flu diagnoses, followed by influenza A H1N1 viruses, according to CDC data. Both of those strains are known to primarily affect children and younger adults, rather than the elderly.
Does this mean there’s no way to protect ourselves against the flu?
According to the CDC website, there are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common. For 2019-2020, trivalent (three-component) vaccines are recommended to contain:
- A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus (updated)
- A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus
While there are no guarantees that you won’t get sick this flu season, there are steps you can take to help reduce the possibility of getting sick. They include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Avoiding touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands
- Staying home for at least 24 hours if you feel flu-like symptoms coming on
- Getting lots of sleep and
- Staying well-hydrated
- Staying away from people who are sick with the flu
- Getting a flu shot
Why more people are looking for alternatives to the flu shot
Getting a flu shot is a discussion you should have with your medical practitioner. However, many people are remiss to getting a flu shot for many reasons. There are some groups of people that shouldn’t get it. They include:
- children less than 6 months of age
- people who have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients
There are some risks to getting a flu shot, including allergic reaction, still getting the flu if you’re exposed too soon after the vaccine or the vaccine wasn’t a good match, or in very rare cases, contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Natural alternatives to flu shots
If you prefer to seek out a more natural option to battle the flu, you have a few options. Oil of oregano contains compounds and chemicals to help you feel better. It has a natural antiseptic property to help kill the virus that is living in your nasal passages and in your blood. The oil also has a strong smell that can aid in clearing nasal congestion and lung congestion to help you breathe easier. Oil of oregano also acts as a natural antihistamine which can stop that massive mucus production that comes from your nose. If you feel you’re coming down with a cold or flu, considering trying Wild Oil of Oregano with honey flavor to help. If your flu is causing inflammatory responses to your illness, then adding turmeric, a strong anti-inflammatory, may be just what you need. Wild Oil of Oregano with Rosemary and turmeric with liposomes make a great flu-fighting combo! It’s always a good idea to work with your physician to see what options are right for you to protect yourself this flu season. Adding natural supplements may be just what you need to stay healthy all flu season long.