Hepatitis C: Eight Tips for the Cold and Flu Season
The seasonal change from summer to autumn brings colorful leaves, fireplace coziness and a string of holidays; but it can also hail the unwelcome array of fevers, sneezing, congestion and coughing. Yes, the arrival of cooler temperatures and crisp air marks the official onset of cold and flu season. Unfortunately, those with chronic Hepatitis C often have a rougher time managing a cold or flu than those without liver disease. Although it may not be realistic to completely prevent getting sick, it is possible to reduce your chance of becoming really ill and curb cold and flu symptoms in a Hepatitis C-friendly way.
The biggest obstacle most people with Hepatitis C face during the cold and flu season is finding medications that are safe for their liver. Because the Hepatitis C virus continually incites liver inflammation that can lead to liver damage, it is important for affected individuals to avoid medications known to injure the liver.
A staple in the pharmaceutical arsenal for cold and flu symptoms, acetaminophen is a widely used over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer. As one of the leading causes of liver toxicity from an accidental overdose, acetaminophen-containing drugs warrant an additional level of caution for people with Hepatitis C. Unfortunately, acetaminophen is either the primary or auxiliary ingredient in a majority of medications for cold and flu. Read Acetaminophen Containing Drugs Pose Danger to Hepatitis C for a list of cold and flu medications that could be harmful to those with chronic Hepatitis C.
When it comes to mitigating the cold and flu season, the best offense is always a strong defense. By fortifying their immune system, many sail straight through to spring without getting terribly sick. An effective defense against germs is primarily accomplished by strengthening the immune system. The top three approaches for this include:
- Hygiene – Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently helps get rid of germs acquired from everyday surfaces. Even with frequent hand washing, make sure to keep your hands away from your face to deny germs access to your respiratory system. Cold and flu virus transmission can be also be minimized by wiping down germ-filled areas (light switches, door knobs, tabletops, computer keyboards, remotes, etc.) frequently.
- Stay Healthy – This might seem obvious, but staying healthy is usually a matter of adhering to general health practices. To keep the immune system strong, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, eat a nutritious diet full of fruit and vegetables, exercise regularly and make sure you get plenty of rest. Following these overstated principles of health has the indisputable effect of defending against cold and flu viruses.
- Consider the Flu Vaccine – Although receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is controversial, it is one of the most effective ways to prevent flu. Studies have found that in healthy adults, the flu vaccine can decrease the chances of coming down with the flu by as much as 70 to 90 percent. Of course, the flu vaccine only defends against a particular strain of influenza; it does not offer any protection against a cold or other flu viruses.
If all of your preventative approaches fall short this fall and winter, more ammunition may be necessary. The following five strategies can help reduce the severity and length of a cold or flu without posing any risks to a liver with Hepatitis C:
- Vitamin C – Especially useful at the first symptoms of a cold or flu, Vitamin C helps many people ward off illness. While a significant boost of Vitamin C is typically suggested, the Institute of Medicine advises drawing the line at 2,000 mg daily to avoid gastrointestinal or kidney problems.
- Gargle – To ease throat pain and inflammation, gargling with salt water helps draw infectious particles out of the affected tissue.
- Steam – Breathing in steam helps keep mucous membranes moist and break up congestion. Adding one drop of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of hot water or the shower stall will add another dimension to clearing the sinuses.
- Zinc – Shown to be more effective at the beginning of a cold or flu, zinc increases the production of disease-fighting white blood cells.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – A precursor to glutathione, the principal antioxidant made in the body, NAC helps the liver break down hazardous compounds. This detoxification function makes NAC an important supplement for those with Hepatitis C. Additionally, NAC helps clear congested lungs and reduces cold and flu symptoms. Based on a study at the Institute of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine at the University of Genoa, Italy, NAC supplements reduced the likelihood of having flu symptoms by more than two-thirds.
Armed with the wisdom that you can strengthen resistance to getting sick and treat a cold or flu without harming the liver, there is no longer any reason for those with Hepatitis C to fear the onset of autumn.
http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu-pictures/ways-to-prevent-colds-and-flu.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthHealthyAging_20101005, Protect Yourself to Prevent Colds and Flu, Diana Rodriguez, Retrieved October 7, 2010, Everyday Health, Inc., 2010.
http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20250943,00.html, Can Vitamin C and Zinc Fight Colds?, Alicia Potter, Retrieved October 9, 2010, Health Media Ventures Inc., 2010.
http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2009/07/acetaminophen_c_1.html, Acetaminophen Containing Drugs Pose Danger to Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved October 7, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.
http://www.liversupport.com/wordpress/2009/11/tips-for-managing-the-flu-with-liver-disease/, Tips for Managing the Flu with Liver Disease, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved October 9, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.
http://www.liversupport.com/wordpress/2008/10/n-acetyl-cysteine-reduces-flu-symptoms/, N-Acetyl Cysteine Reduces Flu Symptoms, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved October 8, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.
http://www.thenutritionreporter.com/NAC-flu_and_cold_remedy.html, NAC: The Best Flu and Cold Remedy Yet?, Jack Challem, Retrieved October 8, 2010, Jack Challem, The Nutrition Reporter™, 2010.