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What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • about 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults


Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.


Getting Through the Flu With Alternative Medicine

When conventional medicine does not work, the next best thing to do is experiment with alternative medicine. Alternative medicine, although often not regulated by the government, offers a new venue through which people who suffer from certain ailments can try and obtain relief.

While there are many medications that work wonders against the flu and its symptoms, it might also be a good idea to keep yourself informed, and maybe even try, some alternative medicine. Here are some of the alternative treatments for the flu.

Acupressure. While the flu itself cannot be cured by acupressure, it can certainly be alleviated by it. Relief from flu symptoms can be had by pressing certain points of the human body. Here are some examples. Using your fingertips, apply pressure to the following areas for three minutes.

The point where the bridge of your nose meets the ridge of your eyebrows. This point relieves itchy eyes and nasal congestion.
The bottom of either the right or left cheekbone, directly under the pupil. It serves the same function as the first point.
The hollows at the base of the skull, two inches apart from either side of the spine. This relieves eye strain and headaches.
Massaging the feet makes energy circulate better around the body, providing for faster healing.

Aromatherapy. Many oils are known to have the capacity to boost the body's immune system. If you begin to notice symptoms of the flu, you might want to try a few oils to boost your resistance. Here are some oils you can use to combat the flu.

Essential oils like basil, peppermint, eucalyptus, and pine help to relive nasal congestion. These should be taken through steam inhalation.

Basil and pine can also be used to relieve chest congestion, along with tea tree oil. These oils clear up mucus, easing breathing patterns. These oils can be rubbed over the chest or inhaled.

Muscle aches can be alleviated by tea tree oil, myrrh, and elemi. Pine can also help. These oils should be used in a bath. If one has fever, have a lukewarm bath. If you have the chills, have a hot bath.

By gargling a drop of tea tree oil mixed with lemon and water each day, you will protect yourself better from the influenza virus.

Hydrotherapy. Flu symptoms can be alleviated by promoting sweat in the body. Hot baths, hot foot-baths, and other heat therapies can do wonders for the body. During sickness, the feet must be kept warm at all times. It is no secret that a lower body temperature makes the body less resistant to viruses and bacteria, so every effort must be made to keep warm. Soak feet in a mustard bath (mix a tablespoon of mustard in four cups of hot water for about ten minutes). Hot baths for the whole body can also help to reduce congestion and improve circulation.

By trying these alternative cures, you just might discover a new way to fight the flu.

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Who Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • Children aged 6–59 months of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • Health care workers.

3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza.


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