It’s flu season in Denver and you are are trying to protect yourself and your family from contracting it this year. Although the flu is generally active in the United States until about May, here is are some tips on avoiding it as a resident of Denver and its suburbs.
Be proactive when it comes to flu season. Even with millions of people taking flu shots, there are many millions more who refuse, forget, don’t bother, or don’t understand the importance of the shot. So every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 20% of the US population comes down with the flu. That means 1 in 5 people you know is carrying the virus – yikes! They are contagious from day one, and for five to ten days after they show symptoms.
2018-2019 flu season is expected to run from late September 2018 through May 2019 . However, the flu season can start earlier and last longer depending on the year. In general, Denver’s flu season lasts 8-9 months every year. Here’s the kicker – the colder and wetter the climate, the longer the flu hangs around (sorry residents of Colorado).
Since the flu and the common cold all share similar symptoms – coughing, eye fatigue, fever, general muscle pain, headaches, and overall discomfort – it is easy to assume you have one or the other. One of the most important things you can do when you or your family start feeling under the weather is to visit a Metro Urgent Care of Denver and get tested for the flu. The biggest differentiator is the timeline regarding the onset of symptoms. Flu symptoms usually arrive suddenly – one day you feel fine and the next you feel awful. In contrast, a common cold builds over a few days. Another telling symptom is fever, which serves as a key flu symptom not shared by early-stage colds.
You may be thinking you are safe – you stay at home, you work in an isolated area, you seldom get sick, and you have never had the flu, but none of that matters. Maybe a loved one brings the virus home from work or school. Maybe you are subject to abnormal stress or have been working too long and hard, you miss some sleep. If for any reason your immune system is compromised (even a little), it can be an open door for you to get the flu.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation allows di-muramyl peptide, a protein, to accumulate in the spinal fluid. This peptide comes from bacteria in the body, suggesting that lack of sleep may enable bacterial growth. Di-muramyl peptides also cause fever. So if you are sleeping less than you should, you make it easier to catch the flu.
You are even more at risk if you take a sweet snack to boost your energy. We learned over forty years ago that vitamin C is used by white blood cells as part of their arsenal against viruses and bacteria. White blood cells, therefore, need to accumulate vitamin C – in fact, 50 times more vitamin C than normal cells. Now look at the ingredients of that sweet snack. How many kinds of glucose (aka: sugar) does it have? Oh, and they also list sugar separately. Since sugar and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, they compete for space in the cell. What regulates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that regulates the entry of vitamin C. The more glucose in the blood, the less vitamin C that can squeeze into those cells. And diabetics especially need to pay close attention to their blood levels. Any reading over 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%. That means when you have high blood sugar, your struggling immune system cannot take in enough vitamin C to help fight the flu.
You are taking precautions this year more than ever, so you and your family don’t come down with the flu. You quit smoking because you know damaged lungs make you more susceptible to repertory infections. You are a hugging person, but you are avoiding people who like to hug and plant a kiss on your cheek. You are working out at home and avoiding the gym because you know flu germs are everywhere. You wash your hands correctly, often, and know that antibiotic gels help. You have locked the alcohol away for the next nine months. You have safely put the over-the-counter flu medication way in the back of the cabinet because you know that taking the medication too soon is ineffective and can actually increase your chances of catching the flu. So you should be good to go right? The truth is, all of the aforementioned preventatives are fantastic in reducing your chances of getting the flu. However, we highly recommend a flu shot to truly prevent your chances are getting it.
If and when you do catch the flu (and without the shots, the odds are in favor you will), we will be happy to help you. Feel free to book an appointment by phone, walk in or book an appointment online. We would rather you were on a wellness and health program with regular physicals and immunizations, but we will see you when you are ill. If you are curious as to which location is closest to you, visit our location finder page, and select from one of our many convenient Denver Urgent Care locations below:
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