October 21, 2009,
F.P. asks from Chesterfield, MO on October 20, 2009
Soap or Sanitizer & Flu Shot or Not
I have 2 questions. I always have my kids wash their hands when they come home from school. Which I always have to remind them before they go grabbing anything out of the fridge or pantry after school. They always give me grief because I guess it "takes too long". Which is better for you washing hands with soap or getting a quick pump from the sanitizer bottle? Also, I'm debating wether or not I should or my kids should get the flu shot. We have always been healthy people, knock on wood. I rarely got sick as a kid. A cold or sore throat once or twice a year. But nothing major than that. If I start getting flu shots and getting my kids started, will that start messing up our natural immune system. My husband doesn't think it's nessasary to get it.
M.L. answers from Wichita on October 21, 2009
C.D. answers from St. Louis on October 21, 2009
the flu shot is a very personal issue and I just wish we had better studies and better access to information in this country. For myself and my family, I've read a lot about the vaccines and have decided not to get them. As for handwashing, a mom at my daughter's preschool said her hubby was taking microbiology classes or something and studied it and water alone was better than sanitizer...the more water the better (but obviously soap if you have it is even better). I use wipes when we are out, but sanitizer is used on occasion. As for fighting the flu, mercola.com has great recommendations for staying healthy including getting your vitamin D and omega-3s --good advice whether you get the vaccine or not (just know that Dr. Mercola is against the swine flu vaccine and regular flu vaccine...there's lots of info about those on there too)
If You Really Want to Avoid the Flu …(from mercola.com)
Staying healthy and avoiding all types of flu has nothing to do with getting a vaccine and everything to do with leading a healthy lifestyle.
I have not caught the flu in over two decades, and you can avoid it too by following these simple guidelines, which will keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.
1. Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself.
I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are therapeutic at 50-70 ng.ml and done by a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp.
If you are coming down with flu like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell believe the dose could even be as high as 1,000 units per pound of body weight for three days.
However, most of Dr. Cannell's work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. Your best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml.
2. Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Remember that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
3. Get Enough Rest. If your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
4. Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. If stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.
If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using a tool such as the meridian tapping technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
5. Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.
6. Take a good source of animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils like trans fats as it will seriously damage your immune response.
7. Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or to other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
8. Use All-Natural 'Antibiotics'. Freshly crushed garlic cloves work like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in your body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don't enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.
Other all-natural antibiotics include olive leaf extract and oil of oregano.
9. Avoid Hospitals and Vaccines. In this particular case, I'd also recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you have an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to this new bug.
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S.V. answers from Kansas City on October 21, 2009
I think soap is better...not antibacterial, good old soap! You do need to maintain a ph on your hands and some germs are ok.
Second...flu shot. Check the CDC website. Those critically I'll with H1N1 are infected with influenza simultaneously--so, getting one or the other is a good preventative measure from something serious. Call your doc, I'm sure they can help advise further on the flu in your area. If your travelling at all in the next few months...tell your doctor that as well! Good luck!
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H.P. answers from St. Louis on October 21, 2009
Definatly use the soap over germx. Now I have gone to the extreme and loaded my house with bacteria wipes, lysol, and germix...and the family jug of soap! With 5 kids (4 in school which has a lot of kids out sick for the past 3 weeks) I want to be as pro active as I can. I'm surprised the kids aren't complaining. They not only have to wash hands (this has never changed..flu season or not) but now they each have a trial size germx to carry around with them to use as they need. Plus at least once a day they have to wipe down their desks in their rooms and the game tables downstairs. Germix is used before video games and computer. We had two sick so far...one was the flu. Now looks like the other two school girls just have a cold. I am not giving flu shots. They will be fine. I use to get them when I worked in the health field because it was required. I did however get the H1N1 because I am pregnant. Couldn't get the flu shot because they were out. The kids however will not be getting the H1N1. 2yrs ago the 4 girls all got the flue back to back...funny thing is I didn't get it from them. I think good hygeine is the best rememdy. Make sure kids are coughing/sneezing into arm, not the air. If they happen to do it in their hands, WASH THEM! If any of them do get sick, just watch them closely for changes. If having any difficultly with breathing go to ER. I know my children's doctor is not giving any Rx for the flu (tamaflu) unless they have an infection. I have read about this as well. If child has a fever for 3 days...Call. Speak to doctor/nurse if your child does get sick and they will tell you all the steps you need to help your child and when or if you need to bring your child in. I hope you and your family have a healthy winter....whichever you decided to do. ~H.
S.B. answers from Topeka on October 21, 2009
Hand sanitizers should be used when soap and water are not readily available. That is a fact.
Now on to my opinion (LOL) I am skeptical about the flu shot. A few years ago at a check-up, the doctor offered for my then 7 year old son to get the flu shot. I agreed. Well the very next day he had the full blown flu! Do I think he already had the germs? Nope, and of course I can not know that for sure. And no one can claim medically that the flu shot will not give you the flu.
Now I know there are ALOT of people who get the flu shot and everything works out just fine. So really, I think it all boils down to what you really think is the right thing to do.
K.C. answers from Wichita on October 21, 2009
If you have ever tasted the sanitizer after it has dried you wouldn't want your kids to eat anything with their fingers. We only use sanitizer when we can't get to a sink with soap. One person did mention about bar soap & germs. I have hear that is true, so we use the foam pump soap (other wise my 3 y/o would never get it all rinsed off).
We are usually pretty healthy, but me & my kids still get anual flu shots. My husband doesn't do shots (but he got all of his imunizations as a kid). I figure that if you imunize your kids against the normal childhood vacines you should get the flu shot. However my family will not be getting the N1H1 shot.
Any shot messes with your natural immune system (for the better). It builds it up just like if you got the illness without the shots. Your immune system just knows how to fight better if you have had the shot.
L.G. answers from Kansas City on October 21, 2009
These are topics that have come up again and again in my Microbiology class! You do not want to use sanitizer all the time - you do have good bacteria on your skin that you need to help fight the bad ones. Along this line, do not use the anti-bacterial soaps, just stick with regular soap. If you are somewhere without a sink, then yes, use the hand sanitizer - just don't make a habit of it.
As far as the flu shots (the regular and H1N1) my opinion is yes, get them. The flu can mutate so fast and so aggressively it isn't worth it to me to put my son in danger. Especially the H1N1 - the majority of those affected by it are children! I would rather have the immunization for my son and myself than to be paranoid about keeping him out of the public. There are too many people that will go out in public if they are sick (possibly infecting others) rather than stay home and take care of themselves. By going out in public they are exposing EVERYONE around them to their illnesses! Even if they aren't exhibiting symptoms at that time, the viruses and/or bacteria can still be transmitted to others.
I'll get off of my soapbox now - I need to wash my hands! :)
A.A. answers from St. Louis on October 21, 2009
Everyone has there own opinion of the flu shot. I am a nurse in a hospital. Every infectious disease doctor I have talked to have gotten the shot and had their own children vaccinated. They get paid to treat people who are sick with these viruses, so their opinion is good enough for me. People who say they "get sick" from the shot are misinformed. The vaccine is a dead virus and cannot get you sick. If you get sick after the shot it is merely coincidental and you must have been immunocomprimised prior to the vaccine. I will always always always get my children and myself the shot. Children have died from the flu. Some children and adults cannot get the shot due to reaction or allergy and they obviously should not get it. And no, it will not "mess up" their immune system.