Influenza (flu) is well-treated and effectively prevented using naturopathic medicine.
Influenza is a viral infection that affects respiratory system, including your nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs.
The influenza (flu) virus is transmitted through the air in droplets by coughing, sneezing or talking. You can inhale these drops directly, or can contract the virus indirectly by touching a contaminated object (e.g., doorknob, telephone) and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Generally, healthy persons rarely require hospital care for an influenza (flu) infection, but for those with weakened immune systems, influenza (flu) can be fatal.
Complications of influenza infection include ear infections, acute sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Complications are more common in people who (are):
- Younger than five
- Older than 65
- Have weakened immune systems
- Have a chronic illness
Seek professional healthcare if you are at risk of developing complications of influenza (flu) infection (i.e., have a weakened immune system – suffer from frequent infections).
Seek emergency medical care if you experience symptoms of pneumonia, including:
- High fever
- Severe, phlegm-producing cough
- Sharp pain on breathing deeply
Symptoms of Influenza (Flu)
Influenza (flu) symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, but appear suddenly and are more severe. Possible symptoms of influenza (flu) include:
- Fever higher than 38 °C (101 °F) (as high as 40.5 °C [105 °F] in children)
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
- Sweating and chill
- Muscle ache
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea and vomiting (in children)
Treatment of Influenza (Flu) at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of influenza (flu) treatment are to resolve infection; reduce symptom severity and duration; and prevent complications and recurrence.
Conventional treatment for influenza (flu) includes vaccination, antiviral medications and antibiotic medications (if complications occur). These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.
For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your influenza (flu) symptoms.
Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:
- Identifying specific treatment goals
- Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
- Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
- Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating influenza (flu) may be to:
- Resolve viral infection using botanical (herbal) medicines
- Reduce symptoms botanical (herbal) medicines, hydrotherapy or acupuncture
- Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, poor stress management) or general health (e.g., diabetes mellitus, human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] infection, pregnancy) that may contribute to your susceptibility to infection
- Prevent influenza (flu) recurrence by optimizing immune system activity
Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:
- Nutritional counseling
- Nutritional supplements
- Metabolic detoxification protocols
- Botanical (herbal) medicines
- Bowen Therapy
- Exercise prescription
- Relaxation (meditation) training
- Lifestyle medicine and counseling
- Registered massage therapy
As a first step to reducing time lost owing to influenza (flu) infections, learn more about our Seasonal Cold and Flu Clinic program.
Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.
Influenza (flu) [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 15]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/influenza/DS00081.