When the weather turns chilly and the days grow shorter, a host of viruses begin to make their rounds, including the influenza virus. We depend on a healthy immune system to keep the influenza virus from gaining a foothold. Unfortunately, getting the seasonal influenza vaccine is no guarantee of flu protection. Some seasons, the influenza virus mutates to the point that the vaccine loses some of its effectiveness. That is the case with this year’s vaccine.
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When the vaccine doesn’t do its job, you depend on your immune system to protect you from the feverish colleague at the office who can’t stop coughing and turned out to have influenza. Some people don’t realize that influenza can have devastating consequences for those with weakened or immature immune systems, including children, older adults and people who have other health problems. Every year about 36,000 people die from influenza in the United States.
Even after seemingly recovering from the flu, some people develop a secondary infection like bacterial pneumonia that, in some cases, can be life-threatening. Scientists now have some idea why secondary infections with bacteria are more likely to happen after a case of the flu. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have studied this phenomenon and reached some interesting conclusions.
Influenza and Your Immune System
When confronted with an influenza virus, your immune system goes to work to block the virus from replicating. Once the virus enters your body, a healthy immune system fights the virus with the help of specialized immune cells called T-cells and antibodies produced by B-cells, although it takes up to 7 days for these cells to be fully activated. Fortunately, you have an “innate immune system” made up of cells, like white blood cells and natural killer cells, and proteins. This immune arsenal is always on duty, ready to ward off foreign invaders. Plus, you have chemicals in your saliva, nasal passages and lungs that help to keep viruses from replicating. Unfortunately, sometimes the virus overwhelms these defenses and you develop the unpleasant symptoms of influenza.
Once infected with the flu, if all goes well, you’ll recover in about a week. What you may not realize is that you’re more susceptible to infections with bacteria after having the flu. As Yale researchers discovered in mice, the immune response to the influenza virus is geared towards dealing specifically with the virus. Once the immune reaction to the virus subsides and the virus is contained, you start to feel better. Many of the symptoms you had, like fever, were a product of your body’s immune response to the virus. Unfortunately, the immune response to bacteria is different. If you’re exposed to bacteria when your immune system is “tied up” fighting a flu virus, it lacks the resources to destroy the bacteria, as it would normally do. Therefore, bacteria have an opportunity to successfully invade and cause a complication like bacterial pneumonia, just when you thought you were well.
According to studies, Yale School of Medicine did with mice; immune suppression persists for up to a week after a bout with influenza and is mediated by stress hormones called glucocorticoids that increase during periods of stress such as illness. Glucocorticoids help tame inflammation, but this comes at the price of suppressing the immune system response to bacteria. During this period when your immune system is suppressed, you’re more vulnerable to bacterial infections, especially bacterial pneumonia.
What Does This Mean?
Even after you’ve recovered from the flu virus, you’re vulnerable to infection for up to a week. Don’t be too quick to return to your normal activities. Take care of yourself with good nutrition, plenty of sleep and with immune-enhancing supplements like BioPro-Plus™, until your immune system has recovered. You’ll be glad you did. Because the flu season has reached epidemic levels in many parts of the US, we here at Alternative Health Concepts, want to make sure you and your family get through the current flu season unscathed. We have created a discount code for you to get an additional 20% off the Ultimate Immune Boosting Supplement, BioPro-Plus™. When you click on the link below and hit “Add to Cart” button, a window in the lower left corner will appear entitled “Enter a Promotion Code”; enter in the window the code “flu2015” and hit the “add” button and Your 20% discount will appear and you can proceed to the checkout and GET THROUGH THIS FLU SEASON HEALTHY & HAPPY!
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-By Alternative Health Concepts
Yale Scientific. “Influenza Renders Immune System Vulnerable”
Medscape.com. “Innate Immunity to Influenza Virus: Implications for Future Therapy” (2008)