Every year, thousands of Americans become ill from the virus caused by influenza. Influenza is a respiratory virus that can affect individuals in any age group; the very young and very old are most susceptible.
Each year the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine for every American over six-months of age; however, this vaccine will only protect an individual from three strains of the flu, and many individuals do not feel comfortable with vaccinations. With more than 30 types of influenza in the environment, how can the public better protect themselves? Luckily, there are some things that can easily be done to help keep families healthy.
1. Contain the Spread
According to the CDC, the flu virus is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and the droplets become air-born. The virus can be spread from a sneeze or cough up to six feet away. Less frequently someone can become infected by touching a contaminated surface. An infected person is contagious one day prior to becoming sick and up to seven days after symptoms start, including: fever (not everyone infected will develop a fever), body aches, runny/stuffy nose, and coughing.
2. Proper Hand Washing
It is important to wash hands after using the restroom, before preparing meals, after sneezing/coughing, or touching an animal. The friction that occurs when hands are rubbed together with soap and warm water is effective in killing and removing germs. However, many do not wash their hands long enough; the CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds. If adults or children need encouragement to lather up longer, try humming the tune to “Happy Birthday to You” twice.
3. Disinfect Surfaces
Disinfecting the home helps decrease the chance of transmitting the virus to others in the family. All surfaces, from silverware to light switches, should be sanitized during flu season. This can be achieved by simply washing the item in hot, soapy water or using a disinfecting spray. There are many products on the market that are effective in killing viruses on different surfaces, but many are concerned about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and their effect on our health and air quality. A quick search on the Internet will result in many different essential oil recipes for disinfectants. Marlene Mitchell, CA provided the recipe below:
1 oz. Carrier distilled water
2- 3 drops Aloe Vera
3 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
4 drops Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
3 drops Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
4 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Directions: Blend all ingredients into a spray bottle. Spray may be used to sanitize all surfaces.
1. Mitchell CA, M. (2009, April 30). Antiseptic spray mist, cold & flu support. Retrieved from AIA website: http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/aromatherapy_formula_library.htm
2. (2011, November 18). Seasonal influenza. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
3. ACHStv video Top 5 Tips for Wellness features ACHS instructors Deborah Halvorson and Scott Stuart, and Dr. Arianna Staruch.
*This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. You should always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health routine. For immediate assistance for a medical emergency, call 911.