Cold and Flu Prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season has hit early this year.  What’s more, the strain of flu that’s most prevalent thus far–H3N2–has been associated with more severe flu seasons and is apt to strike the very young and very old.  Five states, including Texas, already have widespread reports of flu outbreaks. Fortunately, this year’s flu vaccine closely matches the circulating strains, and Downtown Doctor has preservative free vaccine available on a walk-in, or appointment basis if preferred.  Beyond getting vaccinated, additional steps to stay healthy during the cold and flu season are outlined below.

1) Hand hygiene.  Wash hands thoroughly and frequently using warm water and soap.
For best results, scrub vigorously between your fingers, beneath fingernails and your wrists. Wash your hands:

  • Before eating
  • After using the restroom
  • After physical contact with a sick person or items they used
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose

Tip: To truly get rid of germs, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.

2) Don’t touch your face.  Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching their faces is the major way children catch colds and a key way they pass colds on to their parents.

3) Exercise.  Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood; makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood; and makes you sweat once your body heats up. These exercises help increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells.

4) Supplement with Vitamin D.  Various studies have suggested that vitamin D plays a protective role in the immune system.  One study by the Department of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine found that those who had blood levels lower than 38 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) had twice as many upper respiratory tract infections when compared to those whose blood levels were lower than 38 ng/ml.  Because the body makes vitamin D when in the sun, lower levels tend to occur in the winter, otherwise known as cold season.  James Cannell, MD and president of the Vitamin D Council recommends supplementing with 5,000 IU/day.

5) Don’t smoke.  Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones.  Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the immune system. Smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia. These are the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs, and with their wavy movements, sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages. Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

6) Eat fermented foods or supplement with a probiotic.  Probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi strengthen and maintain the mucosal barrier system (in our respiratory and intestinal tract), which is our first line of defense against pathogens. What’s more, 75% of our immune system if found in the gut.

7) Vitamin C and immune boosting botanicals.  Vitamin C is useful for fighting off colds. Take 1g every 3-4 hours.  In addition, there are a number of botanicals that have a potent immune-boosting effect. These include echinacea, astragalus, codonopsis, Siberian ginseng, catnip, ginger root, garlic and Elder flower (Sambucus).

8) Drink plenty of water.  at least one 8-oz glass of water for every 20 pounds body weight. Water is important for healthy digestion and elimination. All of our cells are constantly bathed in water. When they become dehydrated they can’t function properly.

9) Get plenty of rest.  Aim for 8-9 hours sleep per night and rest if you feel tired. Sleep is recovery time for the body’s functions, including the immune system. Sleep in a completely dark room, and avoid eating a large meal directly before bedtime.

September is Yoga Month!

Here at Downtown Doctor, we love ourselves some yoga. Whether you are into the thick, heavy steamy Bikram yoga style, or a more classic and calm variation, September is a month that speaks all about being healthy.

The practice of doing yoga is only one of the many ways that the Center of Health states that you can take control of your well-being this September.  There are many little steps that you can take to increase your health, as well as decrease your stress:

Taking a quick afternoon nap

Scheduling some “you” time

Take a relaxing bath

Read a good book.

The list is endless….


But, remember, none of this is important if you are not healthy.  As the summer nears to a close, and you find yourself with more free time as the kids are back in school, take a minute to evaluate your own health.  Has there been some lingering issue that you have been putting off?  Have you been eating right?  Do you know if all of your vaccinations are up to date?  Have you had a flu shot this year?  Just when was your last mammogram?  This is an important time to reflect on these issues as we get into the busy winter season.

If the answer to any of these above questions is no or, even worse, I don’t know, then schedule out some very important “you” time and come into the clinic.   With specializations in osteopathic manipulation therapy, Dr. Freeman can right any one of those nagging aches and pains, gently and effectively.  If you have questions about nutrition, Dr. Freeman recommends (and uses!) an amazing product called SLIM!

For all those who simply have questions regarding their health, please feel free to call the clinic anytime at 512.391.9400.  We are here to help you.  Take some time out for yourself.