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Category Archives: Blog Articles

The Flu and You – How Viruses Affect Autoimmune Diseases

The Flu and You – How Viruses Affect Autoimmune Diseases

It’s finally fall.  And while fall brings many wonderful things such as crisp evenings, beautiful foliage and pumpkin spice lattes it also brings with it the flu.  Most cases of the flu and common cold are relatively benign for most people, but for those with autoimmune diseases viral infections can mean symptom flares for their autoimmune condition.  Therefore it is important for those with autoimmune diseases to do their best to prevent viral infections like the flu and the common cold from aggravating their symptoms.

Viruses like the influenza (flu) and rhinovirus (common cold) tend to aggravate autoimmune diseases because they cause the immune system to flare in response to the virus.  Symptoms like coughing, sneezing, sore throat, chills and fever are all symptoms of your immune system acting to fight the virus.  And while it is important for your immune system to fight off those viruses, if it is already overactive because of autoimmunity, then it can make those symptoms worse.

But fortunately for those of you with autoimmune diseases, there are several ways you can help prepare yourself to not only reduce your changes of getting a viral infection, but also to reduce your chances of having an autoimmune flare.  Here are some of those ways:

Power Up Your Anti-Viral Arsenal

Going into cold and flu season, there are many different herbs and supplements that can help you prevent viruses from getting out of hand.  The best and most readily available supplements include vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and Zinc.  B vitamins can also help promote healthy immune system function.  Herbal therapies such as echinacea, andrographis, and elderberry can also help to prevent viral infections.  Make sure you talk with your healthcare provider about the appropriate dosages for these therapies.

Feed and Strengthen Your Body

Exercise and healthy eating habits can do wonders for helping you fend off viruses.  Mild to moderate aerobic exercise 3-4x a week can help not only improve immune function, but can help prevent cold and flu.  Promoting a diet full of vitamin and mineral rich fruits and vegetables can also help your body stock up on the nutrients is needs to fight infection.  You can find additional tips on ways to prevent colds and flu here.

Work on Lowering your Immune Burden

Many autoimmune diseases flare up because the immune system becomes so overstimulated by multiple triggers that it begins to produce symptoms.  By finding and controlling triggers such as food allergies, hormonal imbalances, GI imbalances or heavy metal toxicities, the body’s immune burden decreases making it more tolerable to triggers such as viruses.  When the immune burden decreases, viral infections may not be enough of a trigger to produce symptoms, creating a more tolerable experience.

Get a flu shot

While a flu shot is not protective against all forms of the influenza virus, it can help prevent against some of the most common strains.  Those with serious life threatening autoimmune diseases, or those at high risk for flu complications, should consider getting a flu shot.  If you are uncertain as to whether you should get a flu shot this year, contact your doctor as they can explain to you the risks and benefits of receiving a flu shot this year.

While getting the flu or the common cold is never pleasant, it shouldn’t lead you feeling worse because of autoimmune flares.  If you have further questions about how to prevent colds and flus from affecting your autoimmune disease, call our office today at 206-588-1227 and schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians.

Sign up now for the Fall Clear Change Cleanse

Sign up now for the Fall Clear Change Cleanse

Are You Ready To Feel Better? To Understand Your Body And What It Is Telling You In A New Way? To Make Decisions About Your Health That Helps You To Feel GOOD! The Clear Change Fall Cleanse Is Designed To Help You With Your Health Goals. _________________________________________________________________________ What to Expect: 4 one-on-one individual appointments.  First appointment needsContinue Reading

3 Tips to Doing Detox Right

3 Tips to Doing Detox Right

Nowadays, detoxing is on everyone’s mind, especially when living in increasingly toxic environments and experiencing negative health effects.  If you think that a detox might be right for you, there’s a way to do it right and ensure you are safely achieving the results you are looking for.  Email me to get on our FallContinue Reading

The Autoimmune Paleo Diet – How and Why it Works

The Autoimmune Paleo Diet – How and Why it Works

There has been a lot of talk in the last few years in the autoimmune community in regards to the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet/protocol.  One of the most common questions I get from patients is “Does the AIP diet really work in helping to reduce my autoimmune symptoms?”  The answer to this question complex, butContinue Reading

Living With Autoimmunity Event!  May 9th!

Living With Autoimmunity Event! May 9th!

Living with Autoimmunity Saturday, May 9, 10:00 AM-3:30 PM at Bastyr University in Kenmore Join the Autoimmune Advocacy Alliance (A3) for “Living with Autoimmunity,” an education program for families living with one of the 80+ autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. In the morning sessions, experts will share information onContinue Reading

Weight Loss: One Patient’s Story

Weight Loss: One Patient’s Story

I’ve tried everything, and the weight still won’t come off! Does this sound familiar?  This is something that I hear from patients constantly.  One of my patients tearfully described her situation during her first visit. Rebecca, age 37, had struggled with her weight ever since she was a teenager.  She described both of her parentsContinue Reading

Irregular periods?  Get to the root cause!

Irregular periods? Get to the root cause!

Wouldn’t it be great to have your period less often, or at least consistently?  Every woman likely asks herself this at some point.  Starting your period (also called menses) more or less frequently than every 21 to 35 days can actually indicate an underlying problem. Infrequent and heavy menses are typically triggered by hormonal irregularities. Continue Reading

Thyroid Disease is Connected to Diabetes

Thyroid Disease is Connected to Diabetes

We diagnose many patients with thyroid disease and many patients with diabetes, but did you know that having one of these conditions markedly increases your risk of developing the other?  In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is an increased risk of both low thyroid hormone and high thyroid hormone, but that risk isContinue Reading

Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Poor dental hygiene and gum disease may trigger symptom flares in patients with autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis.  Fortunately, prevention for oral bacteria overgrowth is simple: 1)     Brush and floss your teeth daily. 2)     Reduce sugar in your diet. 3)     Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. 4)     Take anti-inflammatory supplements, such as fish oilContinue Reading