It's hard to tell the difference between Swine Flu and the winter seasonal flu because so many symptoms are the same. There is a range of symptoms that include high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue. Swine Flu, officially known as Influenza A H1N1 is really only confirmed when a blood test produces a positive result for that strain. Swine Flu is highly contagious and we have seen it spread around the world rapidly. With winter fast approaching in the Northern hemisphere there will be many more cases.
The worst symptoms seem to last approximately 5 days but residual symptoms especially coughing can go on for one or two weeks or so. While many Swine Flu victims recover fairly speedily and some have even reported that it was mild for them others may be severely affected. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with long term medical conditions can become very ill. Rarely do healthy people die from Swine Flu but it is possible and therefore it is important that everyone takes common sense precautions to slow the spread of the disease.
For most people Swine Flu can be managed in the home with rest, copious fluids and with medicines to reduce the severity of symptoms. Practical measures such as staying away from the workplace or school helps prevent the spread of all flu cases. Washing hands frequently and the using and disposing of tissues hygienically after use are simple and sensible measures. Wearing a face mask is the proper thing to do when entering high risk areas such as airports, bus or train stations and hospitals.
Life goes on however and it seems that most people can only hold a state of high alert for a short time before dropping their guard. While you and your family may continue to act thoughtfully and carefully to prevent the spread of disease others soon fall back to a lower level of vigilance. Most importantly there is one more thing to consider and that is your own natural disease prevention system – your immunity.
You may already be taking care of your health by ensuring that you eat high quality food most of the time, that you get plenty of rest and relaxation and generally live in a healthy way. Any behavior that lowers immunity such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, too many late nights and a diet of junk food places you at greater risk of catching an infectious disease.
A healthy lifestyle and diet supplemented with products that support the immune system is worthwhile. In my practice as a retail pharmacist I am exposed to infection, especially respiratory ones on a daily basis and not only just over the winter. Over the years I have personally experimented with just about every supplement with immune boosting properties. Some products are over hyped but there are some that offer genuine benefits in my experience.
I like to start with Vitamin C because it acts like fuel for the white blood cells. I've used a famous aged garlic extract as a daily supplement for years now because it helps support the immune system and favorable cholesterol ratios. I've also taken it successfully in high doses when I've had a heavy cold. Echinacea can be useful but I'll only take it if I can't obtain something better like Andrographis. A word of caution regarding herbal remedies: Pregnant women should not take herbal remedies in general as there is very little evidence to support their safety. In the case of Andrographis it is potentially harmful to the fetus. Always educate yourself by seeking advice before taking a herbal remedy.
Over the last 18 months I believe I've discovered something better for boosting immunity. The South African herb, pelargonium sidoides definitely shortens the duration and severity of colds and flu. I consume it daily during the winter and if I feel exhausted or run down in the summer time I will also take the occasional dose. Normally the feeling that a cold is imminent goes away within a few hours.
Colostrum also boosts the immune system and has many other beneficial uses. An extract made from colostrum with virus blocking properties has recently become available. This extract in the form of an under the tongue spray, is safe for all age groups and has no known side-effects. It is particularly effective against all flu viruses including Swine Flu. The active ingredient, Proline Rich Polypeptides requires 70kg of pure New Zealand colostrum powder to produce 1kg of active product. It works by preventing the virus from entering through the cell wall. Viruses require the genetic material found in the center of the cell to reproduce and if this is prevented then the virus can't spread and has little effect on the body.