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Tips for Managing the Flu With Liver Disease


Even with the vaccinations available for seasonal flu and swine flu, many people are still getting sick. Discover six natural approaches to fight the flu for those who have fallen victim to one of these flu strains – an especially helpful list for those with compromised liver health.

Editor’s Note: The following is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or supersede medical advice. If your health is in jeopardy, consult with a physician right away.

Now that we are deeply entrenched in the 2009 flu season, few of us can ignore the fears surrounding this year’s influenza strains. With millions of people falling ill to one or the other, precautions against both seasonal flu and swine flu are dominating the public health arena. For those with liver disease, deciding how to best manage either type of flu can be especially challenging.

Pharmaceutical companies have risen to the demand for protection against both influenza strains and, thus, vaccines for each strain are currently available:

A.    Seasonal Flu Vaccine – The flu shot is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions, such as liver disease. Since they may be more vulnerable to complications, some doctors advise people with liver disease to receive the yearly seasonal flu vaccine.

B.    Swine Flu (H1N1) Vaccine – As of September 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved four vaccines against H1N1. With the supply limited, current recommendations for who should be vaccinated against H1N1 involve those with health conditions associated with a higher risk of medical complications from influenza. (This includes those with advanced liver disease.)

Beyond Vaccinations
Receiving a flu vaccine is both a personal and medical decision that is influenced by a variety of factors. Despite these vaccinations and efforts by public health officials to reduce the spread of illness, people everywhere are still getting sick.

Unfortunately, those with liver disease may not fare as well taking traditional cold and flu medicines. This is because some over-the-counter cold and flu medicines contain acetaminophen, which can put an additional toxin load on an already compromised liver. In addition, many people prefer to use natural solutions instead of dealing with the side effects inherent to most drugs.

Since having a chronic underlying illness like liver disease increases complications from the swine flu, getting rid of this particular virus safely and swiftly is paramount. Regardless of which strain of flu has found its way past your defenses, there are plenty of things someone with liver disease can do in favor of a quick recovery. Besides staying home to avoid infecting others, these natural approaches can safely help many people manage the flu:

1)    Gargle – Based on the chemical principle of osmosis, gargling with salt water is a good way to ease throat pain and inflammation as well as reduce the quantity of viral particles in your throat.

2)    Steam – Being careful not to burn yourself, breathing in steam from a bowl of hot water or in a hot shower helps keep mucous membranes moist and break up congestion. Adding one drop of eucalyptus essential oil will add another dimension to clearing the sinuses.

3)    Rest – When battling the flu, your body needs plenty of rest. The immune system functions much better with at least eight hours of sleep each night. When sick with the flu, the body’s daily demand for sleep is usually greater than eight hours.

4)    Herbal Formulas – Several expertly designed herbal formulas help support the immune system while simultaneously fighting viruses. The encapsulated form of Jason’s Famous Cold and Flu Formula is one example of a powerful, balanced blend of herbs to reduce the duration of the flu and prevent complications from arising.

5)    Zinc – One of the most overlooked home remedies for the flu is zinc. This mineral increases the production of disease-fighting white blood cells and also helps these cells release more antibodies.

6)    Flu Buster Tea – This concoction can easily be prepared in your kitchen. Simmer 4 – 6 pieces of fresh ginger and 2 whole garlic cloves in water for about 10 minutes. Then pour the ginger/garlic hot water over a peppermint tea bag. Add honey and lemon to taste. This home brew helps ease fevers, coughs, body aches, congestion and a sore throat.

Seasonal and swine flu vaccinations may help prevent many cases of the flu this year. Even so, an estimated 22 million Americans have been sickened by swine flu alone since April of 2009. Besides their applicability for those whose liver is unable to process some medications, the six suggestions above for managing the flu can also help anyone seeking natural solutions for fighting H1N1 or seasonal flu., CDC's swine flu toll: 4,000 dead, 22 million ill, Lauran Neergaard, Retrieved November 14, 2009, Yahoo, Inc., November 2009., Liver Lines, David Bernstein, MD, FACP, FACG, Retrieved November 14, 2009, Massapequan Observer, Anton Community Newspapers, October 2009., Flu/Swine Flu & Liver Disease, Retrieved November 14, 2009, British Liver Trust, 2009., Flu Virus Help, Retrieved November 14, 2009,, 2009., Should Those With Hepatitis C Get a Swine Flu Shot?, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved November 14, 2009, Natural Wellness, 2009., Discover A Natural Treatment for Swine Flu and Protect Your Family from Infection, Donald Olivia, Retrieved November 14, 2009, WomanMagz, 2009.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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