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Influenza is quite different from the common cold. And it's much more debilitating. However, it often starts off in much the same way, as your symptoms demonstrate how your body is mounting its defence.

Like the common cold, it is spread as a virus, so antibiotics have no effect on it.

However, antibiotics have often been used in the past to prevent or ameliorate some of the unpleasant diseases your body may meet after being weakened by 'flu.

Influenza is very contagious.

Man Behind Glass © Vvo - Depression Photo

Common Influenza Symptoms

  • fever
  • muscle pain and heaviness
  • headache
  • fatigue: extreme - you may be unable to stand
  • loss of appetite
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • running nose
  • pain when moving the eyes
  • sometimes - dizziness

Incubation period

About 2 days. This means you soon know if you have it. It also means you can unknowingly spread it fast. That means it spreads quickly.

Analysis in Chinese medicine

In case you haven't realised it yet, this site aims to explain how Chinese medicine works in English. You might wonder what Chinese medicine has to offer, when Western medicine has been investigating this virus and what to do about it for many years.

Well, just remember that Chinese medicine has been going for 3000 years at least. It has used very different ways to understand and explain illness, and what to do about it.

Scientists are increasingly discovering that Chinese medical forms of treatment are often just as effective as Western medicine, and sometimes more effective. The WHO approves of acupuncture for many forms of disease.

AND, they don't usually get the side effects you suffer from taking modern drugs - medications.

In nearly every case of influenza, the basic diagnosis is Damp-Heat.

(Bit of technical stuff: this is  classified as being Damp-Heat at the Defensive (wei) level in Chinese medicine. The Defensive (wei) level is the outermost of the Four Levels, which show how hot-type pathogens invade the body, and the damage they do and the way your body resists as diseases penetrate deeper through your defences.)

Everyone is different, of course, so the actual diagnosis has other syndromes which fill out the particular symptoms picture you display.

What to do

  • On the question of vaccination there are some remarks which will not please everyone
  • This page covers how to help yourself avoid this disease
  • Failing that, it suggests what you can do to ameliorate it

Avoiding Influenza - Vaccination

You may be tempted to get vaccinated against flu. Most governments spend a great deal of effort persuading you of the benefits of the jab. 

Although doctors insist that the latest 'flu vaccines will protect you, there are disadvantages to having the jab, too. And of, course, if the 'flu turns out to be different to the virus against which you've been vaccinated, it won't work much if at all.

What is more, according to recent reviews in the Cochrane Database of Systematic reports, there is very little evidence that the vaccination makes much difference, for instance for the elderly or for the healthcare workers who care for them. Similar reports cast doubt on the beneficial effects of influenza vaccination in children under 2.

I don't know how good the reports by doctors are of the ill-effects of vaccination, but I have seen many patients who developed various complaints in the weeks immediately following immunisation.

Avoiding Influenza - Hygiene

As a virus, flu spreads by entering your body. It can do this via your:

  • mouth
  • eyes
  • nose
  • cuts in your skin

If you've been on public transport or in offices or places where many people pass, your hands or clothes will have been in touch with hand-rails and door-handles etc which others have touched.

Their touch, if less hygienic than yours, may have spread influenza or cold viruses liberally over the areas touched.

Read about how long viruses can survive outside the body here.

So, take care to wash your hands (warm, soapy water, rubbed into a lather than washed off under clean, running water before being dried with a clean cloth or tissue) before putting them anywhere near your mouth, eyes or nose.

If you must pick your nose, do it through a clean handkerchief!

Resist the temptation to scratch or wipe your eyes when you've been out in public areas.

Wash your hands before eating. Take care to eat food that is properly prepared and cooked, and still hot enough to keep bugs dead. Also, eat from clean plates with clean cutlery.

Take care to cover and protect cuts and abrasions with appropriate dressings.

Avoiding Influenza - Nutrition

Yes, yes, I know about vitamin C. And D. And E. And Zinc. And Cod liver oil. And probably about a few other things that will pop up in time.

It's not that they are unimportant. If you are undernourished and lack the right nutrition to keep healthy, you'll get sick more easily, and not just from influenza!

For more on this, click on nutrition and supplements.

It's just that you can do something which, on its own, may be just as effective in making you less susceptible to the influenza.

But you probably won't like it. What is it?

Sugar and Sweeteners. Or rather the LACK of them. And not just not eating them - any kind of sweetener including honey, molasses, artificial sweeteners, stevia, maple syrup, golden syrup, corn syrup and any other kind of stuff that is sweet to taste - but also not eating anything which easily turns into sugar in your stomach.

That includes:

  • white bread or rolls which take only a few minutes to be turned into sugar by your stomach
  • refined flours of any kind
  • cakes, biscuits
  • jams, sweet flavourings, even peanut butter
  • many root vegetables like potato, parsnip, carrot
  • most kinds of fruit, especially very sweet ones like banana
  • dried fruit, even if organic and from the highest, purest Tibetan mountain pastures or similar

Sorry, but that's not all.

Avoid food that is raw or eaten chilled or cold.

Avoid milk and dairy products.

Avoid strong caffeine drinks. It makes you feel great in the short term but it does so by using up your adrenal energy, so you'll feel worse later. You don't want to feel worse later - you want to feel better later!

Why all this stuff about avoiding sugar and so on? Because it weakens your Spleen energy, the one that is mostly weakened by flu. All this advice is to help you maintain a healthy Spleen energy so that, if you do catch flu, your Splelen isn't already weak.

I hear you complain! What's left to eat?

You may complain - what is there left? 

Well, most green vegetables are ok, (eaten cooked and hot, of course), limited quantities of protein in the form of lentils or nuts, meat and fish are ok.

And don't over-eat. Don't stuff it down! Your body will be more adaptable and nimble in combating the invader if it isn't trying to process an enormous meal. So eat smaller meals.

What to do if you've caught influenza?

We've got a whole page on this. It covers some of what you've read already, but it goes into more of what you haven't read.

Take the time to read it! You may thank me.

And stay home, so you don't spread it. Keep warm and drink water. And eat sparingly.

Bottom line? Best Advice?

Single best bit of advice, both there and here?

Don't take analgesics or painkillers or anything that might bring your fever down artificially.

Let your body fire up the furnaces and burn out the flu the way millions of years of evolution have shown works.

Of course, if you are already very weakened by age or infirmity, seek professional advice. This page is for supposedly healthy people! 

Say 'NO!' to analgesics!

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