Flu Facts: Five Things You Didn’t Know About the Flu

5 flu facts, wellness tips and a surprising myth

Flu facts are on my mind this week, after my little guy came home from school not feeling well. There has been a LOT of discussion on the (active and AWESOME!) Herbal Chick Chat Facebook group about this year’s flu virus. Myths, tips, and theories are running rampant. In the process of answering questions, I ended up uncovering some GREAT questions and myths.

Today we’ll be answering these FIVE flu facts/myths…do you know the answers?

  1. Using fever reducers can make the flu worse
  2. You SHOULD (or should not?) take daily immune boosters during cold and flu season
  3. You can have the flu without fever
  4. Cutting an onion and letting it sit around your home will clean the air of germs
  5. You can catch the flu more than once per season

Dr. Rob, my holistic doctor also weighs with his opinions and pro tips. He LOVES the science and nutritional support aspects of wellness, and has a TON Of knowledge. I’m so grateful that he’s willing to share it with us! You can meet Dr. Rob here, and I’ll leave a link to contact him through his website at the end of this post.

I’ve learned a few new things about the flu from writing this post that are SUPER useful this year, and for flu seasons to come.

Flu Fact #1: Using fever reducers can make things worse

cold and flu remedies-1
Pain and fever reducers are the mainstays of most American medicine cabinets, and for good reason. They’re one of the first things most of us reach for to reduce our discomfort when we’re hit with a fever and body aches. Short term, they can also keep Mom or Dad from missing work, because someone woke up with a fever. It’s easier to just dose up on fever reducers and try to plow ahead. Right?

This short term solution can cause lots of widespread long term public health issues statistically AND it does no favors for your own immune response and recovery time.

David Earn, a professor of mathematics at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and a researcher in a study looking at the public health implications of using fever suppresors says1,

“Because fever can actually help lower the amount of virus in a sick person’s body and reduce the chance of transmitting disease to others, taking drugs that reduce fever can increase transmission,” Earn said. “We’ve discovered that this increase has significant effects when we scale up to the level of the whole population.” 2

Dr. Rob’s Opinion: Yes. I agree with the above completely. There has been a good bit of research in this area confirming that you’d not want to reduce a fever that was in a “safe range” as fevers DO have a positive impact on our ability to fight viruses. For example, In the November 2011 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, it was reported that a fever helped to improve the function of 2 extremely potent virus and tumor destroying white blood cells called the CD8 cell and the cytotoxic T-cell. These cells literally release microscopic granules that kill our flu infected cells.

This might sound crazy but that’s what you want. The way a virus grows in our body is by first invading our own cell. The virus then hijacks our cell’s DNA and gets our own DNA to produce more of the flu virus. The flu infected cell then explodes with thousands of tiny flu viruses that then go and hijack other cells. The CD8 and cytotoxic T-Cells essentially kill the infected cells before this can happen and having a fever allows it to happen much more quickly.

In addition, Immunologist Sharon Evans of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York collaborated with Harvard University in a research experiment and found that a fever of about 103 degrees improved the flow of another group of white blood cells called lymphocytes by about 200%.

Lastly, for each 1 degree centigrade rise in body temp our body’s metabolic rate increases 10 times. This means your cells move faster and enzymatic reactions take place more quickly allowing your body to charge into action and defend itself against cold and flu bugs. Stopping your body’s God created, natural fever reaction through the administration of a fever reducer literally squashes your ability to overcome viruses.

Our rule at my house is “if it’s 103 or below let that fever go, go, go.” If it gets above 103 we will then look at using a fever reducer. There reason for this, is the average fever temperature in which febrile seizures take place is 104°F (40°C). Chances are my son or daughter will not have a seizure at 104 but I’m not taking any chance with that. You will need to check with your doctor, or pediatrician for kids, to determine what is safe for your unique case.

The jury was divided on fact #2…do you think this is true or false?

Flu Fact #2: You SHOULD take daily immune boosters during flu season

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  1. says

    I think it depends, on what I’m not sure. I’ve have really good experiences and some bad ones. When my daughter was 3 months old she had severe reflux, to the point of not being able to eat.. they were fast. We got out in 3 hours. When she was 5 months she became lethargic with a fever and no other symptoms, after 9 hours we still hadn’t seen a doctor. Keep in mind my daughter is premature (2 months) so things that may not seem like much, can be huge for her. The hospital does get bombarded with situations that don’t exactly require emergency care, for instance, when we were there because of an unexplained fever, there was a 30-ish yr old women there with a Charlie horse in her hand.? She was there for 11 hours (I think they were hoping she’d just leave). We try not to go to any clinics or hospitals because of my daughters weak immune system, and use the health unit or that hot line number for advice and suggestions.