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Thyroid Disease and the Flu – 2003 Update
Advice for This Winter's Flu Season



Please click HERE for information on the 2004-2005 flu season and the vaccine shortage.

December, 2003 -- It seems that the flu is on the news every day these days, and so you may have questions regarding what you can and should do to prevent or treat the flu. Find out some important things, including:

  • how to tell if it's just a cold, or flu
  • drugs that can help prevent the flu, or treat it
  • natural preventative things you can do and take
  • whether thyroid patients get a flu shot?
  • warnings about the FluMist nasal vaccine for autoimmune patients
Regarding the flu, keep in mind that the bad Fujian strain that's doing so much damage is one that was not included in the vaccine -- though a similar strain was, meaning it offers some protection against the Fujian Flu. So even if you get the shot, you can still get the flu this year in particular.

My family and I got our shots about 6 weeks ago, but even still, I'm watching the adults for signs, because don't forget, if you get in there right away (within a day or so) of symptoms developing, you can also get anti-viral drugs. (Only high-risk children get anti-viral drugs for flu).

The problem with the anti-virals, however, is that most people wait until it's too late, assuming they have a cold.

So, How to Tell a Cold From Flu?
  • Fever is rare in cold, but characteristic in flu, usually high (102-104 F); lasts 3-4 days
  • Headache is rare in a cold, prominent in flu
  • General aches, pains are not common in colds, but are usual and often severe in flu
  • Fatigue, weakness is mild in a cold, severe in flu, can last up to 2-3 weeks
  • Extreme exhaustion, rarely in cold, early and prominent in flu
  • Stuffy nose, common in cold, but only sometimes in flu
  • Sneezing is common in cold, sometimes in flu
  • Sore throat is common in cold, sometimes in flu
  • Chest discomfort, cough, are mild to moderate in colds, but hacking cough common in flu and can become severe
Flu Drugs

If you are exposed to someone with the flu, and have not had a flu shot, talk to your doctor right away about the flu drugs. Several of the drugs can actually be used for PREVENTION. Amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine) are approximately 70%-90% effective in preventing illness from influenza A infection. (Fujian is an A strain flu). The most commonly prescribed antiviral medication for adults and children over 1 year of age for type A and B flu strains is Tamiflu (R) (oseltamivir phosphate). Tamiflu (R) also has been shown to be effective in preventing flu in adolescents 13 years of age or older, in adults, and in the elderly. It must be taken once daily for at least 7 days to be effective. Another flu drug, zanamivir (Relenza), is recommended for treatment.

Natural Preventive Things

Wash your hands, ALOT!!! Get the kids washing all the time too!! Washing hands is simply one of the best defensive measures to protect yourself from catching or spreading the flu. In addition to washing your hands often, you should keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.

Other prevention steps include:
  • don’t share – keep items including towels, washcloths, silverware, cups, glasses, straws, and razors to yourself
  • remain healthy – if you are healthy, you are less at risk of becoming ill – keep up your good health with a good diet, plenty of rest and regular exercise
  • avoid crowds – Avoid expose to crowds of people – if you do get the flu, stay at home to avoid putting others at risk.
If you and your family aren’t already doing so, you really should be taking a heavy duty multi-vitamin that helps your immune system. It’s one of the most important things you can do to help your immune system. Two excellent vitamins to consider:

jacob1.gif - 13242 Bytes Jacob Teitelbaum’s Daily Energy Enfusion, which, with a pleasant tasting drink made from a powder, and one capsule, replaces dozens of vitamin, mineral and supplement pills, with a high-quality vitamin that is specially formulated for people with immune system dysfunctions and metabolic problems like thyroid disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. Get it at health food or vitamin stores, or online at Iherb.

Another excellent multivitamin is Source Naturals’ “Wellness Formula Herbal Defense Complex.” It combines herbs, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in a formula designed to boost the immune system and mount a response to infection. Get it at health food or vitamin stores, or online at Iherb.
Another thing you may want to get the whole family doing is preventative Vitamin C. My daughter and I are both taking at least 1 or more daily of the Emergen-C Vitamin C drinks. She loves them, they're delicious, not sugary, low-cal, and packed with 1000 mg of C, plus other vitamins. We've tried all the flavors, the raspberry is best!! It's like a fizzy soda, but healthy. I now prefer them to having a Coke!) you get 30 little single-serve packets, each makes a 12-ounce drink, for like $10 or so. We get them at Trader Joes, or from Iherb. Our favorite flavors are Raspberry and Cranberry:
  • Raspberry Emergen-C, Box of 36 packages, from Iherb
  • Cranberry Emergen-C, Box of 36 packages, from Iherb

    If you're suspecting cold or flu onset, some experts believe that as much as 1 to 6 grams of Vitamin C per day may help. The suggested dosage would be 1000 mg every 2 hours, unless diarrhea or gas occurs.
  • Also, I suggest you stock up on Sambucol, the elderberry extract. There's research that found that patients with early signs of the flu who took 4 tablespoons of black elderberry extract per day found that within 24 hours, fever, cough, and muscle pain were significantly reduced in 20% of the patients. After the second day, 70% reported feeling better, and after 3 days, 90% claimed a complete cure from all flu symptoms. Kids can take this too, it's perfectly safe. You can get it at various health food stores, or online at Iherb.
    Another highly recommended natural flu remedy is the homeopathy remedy Oscillococcinum (pronounced “oh-sill-oh-cox-sin-um”). This homeopathic flu remedy enjoys worldwide popularity due to its safety in adults and children above two, and lack of side effects and interactions. Oscillo is thought to stimulate your body’s own defenses. It works best at the onset of symptoms, when your body has more resources to react. In recent clinical studies, 63% of patients treated with Oscillococcinum showed clear improvement in 48 hours. You can get it at various health food stores, or online at Iherb.

    Other key natural remedies for flu include:
    • Zinc Lozenges -- Over-the-counter zinc lozenges can help reduce the effects of a flu or cold. (Online from Iherb)
    • Vitamin A -- Some experts recommend 25,000 IU four times daily for at least three but not more than five days, provided you weigh at least 120 pounds and do not have a liver problem, during the acute phase of flu or colds. (Online from Iherb)
    • Garlic - garlic has natural antibiotic effects, and some experts suggest ten capsules a day of a high allicin content garlic in the first six hours of cold symptoms. (Online from Iherb)
    • Echinacea and Olive Leaf -- Can help combat flus and viruses (Online from Iherb)
    • Camu-camu - The Amazonian rainforest fruit, can help combat viruses. I recommend Whole World Botanicals camu, which you can buy online, at their site, or by calling them toll-free at phone 888-757-6026
    Should Thyroid Patients Get a Flu Shot?

    If you can still find one, should you get a flu shot?

    Some alternative medicine experts recommend against the flu shot. Joseph Mercola, DO, for example, says that "The flu vaccine can actually weaken the immune system and make you more predisposed to the illness." Says Mercola, "I have never received a flu shot and haven't missed a day of work due to illness in over 20 years." Mercola instead recommends immune-enhancing techniques such as avoiding sugar, getting enough rest, eating garlic, minimizing stress, exercising and regular hand washing.

    Dr. Richard Shames, author of Thyroid Power, says that:
    In particular, thyroid sufferers have an immune problem that is likely to be made worse by injectible vaccinations. A person with high or low thyroid has an immune system that is TH2 predominant (T-Helper Cell Type 2). All vaccinations given by injection further stimulate this particular out-of-balance situation and thus have the potential of making the autoimmune response and the resultant thyroid situation worse.
    On the other hand, alternative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil recommends: "if a really virulent flu is coming, I'd take a flu an ordinary year I recommend flu shots only to people who have chronic respiratory illness or who are elderly, debilitated or have compromised respiration for any reason." Weil also suggests the vaccine for anyone with a weakened immune system.

    Personally, I started getting a flu shot 10 years ago, and I had the flu once during that time, the one year I didn't get the shot. And it knocked me out for weeks -- and I felt that with my thyroid, my immune system was not as good at getting rid of the flu, and so it took me far longer to recuperate than the others in my household. So I'm pretty much of a flu shot advocate at least for myself and my family. I never want to go through that misery again if it can be at all avoided.

    Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine (FluMist)

    This year, new on the market is the nasal-spray flu vaccine, which was approved for vaccinating healthy people aged 5 to 49 years and is a useful alternative flu protection for those who find the flu shot frightening or painful. Keep in mind, however, that the Immune Deficiency Foundation, which looked that the health risks posed by FluMist, says that FluMist, because it is a live virus vaccine -- unlike the inactivated, killed virus in the injection -- should not be used by people with immune deficiency diseases or weakened immune systems. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) advises against FluMist for anyone with autoimmune diseases.

    For more information, see the CDC’s Flu Information Center.
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