It’s hard to believe winter is upon us on the west coast, we’ve been experiencing 60+ degree temps on a daily basis since Christmas Day, while our friends in the Midwest and on the East coast are having to endure one of the worst winter storms and cold fronts ever. When I walk outside to work in the garden or walk my dog, I’ve been more concerned with putting on sunscreen to prevent a sunburn than putting on a scarf and heavy jacket to prevent the cold and flu. But did you know that the flu virus is actually spread by talking? Suzy Cohen, better known as America’s Pharmacist was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to discuss how the cold and flu virus is spread, how we can avoid getting sick not just this winter but the entire year.
Candace Rose: What are the most common flu symptoms and how do they differ from the common cold?
Suzy Cohen: “That’s a great question because sometimes you just can’t tell the difference between them because at the onset of a cold or the flu you might see similar symptoms like a headache or body aches, you may sneezing or that tickle in your throat.
Generally speaking the flu is going to be much faster, you’re going to see a higher fever and the symptoms could be head to toe- like joint pain, muscle aches. With the cold it’s typically above the neck, and it’s wetter. By wetter I mean there’s more sneezing and itchy watery eyes and runny nose. The cold is more self limiting, whereas the flu sometimes can have symptoms last for weeks. In fact depending on the flu’s strain and the person that gets infected it could be potentially life threatening complications. We see pneumonia occurring sometimes. There’s 36,000 people that die in the United States from the flu…it’s not something to sneeze at!”
Candace Rose: How can everyone do their part to prevent spreading germs?
Suzy Cohen: “The flu is spread by talking and coughing and sneezing. If you touch something that someone has touched, and you pick up that germ. Those germs enter your body one of two ways- either through your nose or your throat…sometimes the eyes, but it’s usually the nose or the throat. I like to protect those areas, and you can do that now with a cool new product that’s available at pharmacies nationwide and it’s called FluNada. It’s the first product of its kind (it’s the only product of its kind) and it’s a homeopathic blend that is zinc-free and it actually inhibits the replication of these bugs. It halts their growth, it slows their growth down and that’s important because these bugs get in us and they hijack our immune system and they make us miserable.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the most common flu myths?
Suzy Cohen: “Well, one myth is that you can take an antibiotic for the flu or the common cold, but those antibiotics only address bacteria. The flu is caused by the influenza virus so an antibiotic isn’t going to work.
Another myth is about zinc. We know that zinc is helpful for the immune system and it may be helpful for the common cold. But with the flu there are certain strengths of the flu that actually use zinc as their fuel. Intranasal administration of zinc to the nose has been associated with loss of sense of smell or problems with the sense of smell…so I like products that are zinc-free when you’re dealing with the flu.”
Candace Rose: How does stress play a role in our immune system?
Suzy Cohen: “Well, stress brings it a higher secretion of adrenaline and cortisol, and these are stress hormones that in excess can weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to bugs. Do the best you can to avoid stress. I know it’s really hard, but sometimes you have to say no. A lot of people say ‘yes’ when they mean ‘no’.
And another thing we can do is avoid those germ hotspots- places like the mall (maybe you can buy it on the internet), hospitals and pharmacies and schools and churches and synagogues – these are germ hotspots. So if you’re going to go there, protect yourself and have something on board to keep your immune system strong. Sleep well, eat well, and think about the flu all yearlong. Make an investment in your health by taking care of yourself all yearlong by eating right and sleeping more and taking antioxidants – those are important for immunity. Then, when the flu season is among you, you’re not as high a risk.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Suzy Cohen: “I do. I think it’s important for people to know that heading into the flu season, which is going to get dramatically more active in the coming months to do the best you can to wash your hands, to sleep more, to reduce your stress level and as much.
Then, think about FluNada- here’s a product that’s brand new, changes the way we think about the cold and flu. It doesn’t matter if you can tell the difference or not. This is sprayed into the nose and the throat and that’s where 90% of the germs enter your body. You’ve got to protect those areas.”