Influenza Update

Influenza Season 2009

At this point, the H1N1 flu is the dominant flu strain for the season and will, most likely, become the seasonal flu for years to come.  As this is a novel virus, our collective immune system is "seeing" it for the first time. Although it is faster out of the gate, as of yet it, is no more dangerous than the regular seasonal flu.  However, a unique feature of this virus appears to be that it can cause more serious outcomes in young children, pregnant women and those with preexisting chronic disease. It is also more prevalent earlier in the season and keeping folks home from work and school in record numbers.

Our phones have been ringing off the hook with inquiries about the influenza season.  Here are resources for some of our most frequent questions:

Should I get the vaccine?

Maybe.  You have to be the one to weigh the benefit vs. risk for you and your family.  I suggest that you stay informed about your choices.  The best vaccine information I have seen is from Dr. Sears and can be found here.  At this point in time, the vaccine is not available to everyone, so you still have time to think about it.  I do encourage every patient who decides to vaccinate to demand a thimerosal free vaccine.

Is there anything else I can do until the vaccine is available or if we decide not to vaccinate?

Absolutely.  Below, I have provided the research on my top three natural interventions:  Vitamin D, Elderberry syrup and probiotics.  I also still stand by my previous recommendations which are listed at the end in the "Swine Flu To Do List".

Where is the best source of up to date information?

If I think I have the flu, should I go to the doctor?

Call your doctor first! Chances are that most of your care can be handled over the phone.  In most cases, flu symptoms can be managed safely at home.  At this point, we are not testing every patient for the swine flu, but assuming that if you have flu like symptoms, it is H1N1.  Again, stay home unless you have any of the following warning signs:
  • Unable to keep fluids down/ stay hydrated
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
  • Preexisting conditions or diseases that put you more at risk for developing complications of the flu

Posted by: LeighAnn