Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, Washington DC, New Jersey and Puerto Rico are reporting flu cases on the rise this spring. It’s odd timing as most expect to see this kind of thing in the fall. Experts say it’s related to COVID-19 and the pandemic. Doctors in these states say they are seeing an uptick of COVID-19 cases along with an oddly timed spring flu, a twindemic of sorts. Typically the CDC stops recording flu data at the end of April, but with this new data, they’ve continued to monitor incidences of and hospitalizations for flu.
“It’s wild. It’s throwing everyone for a loop,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, an infectious disease expert from University of Colorado Hospital in a press statement. “A lot of people have caught the flu in the last few weeks. It’s here. A lot of us got our flu shots in August. The vaccine might not have been a perfect match for this year’s flu. And any protection we had probably has worn off by now.”
The CDC reports that while this spring flu is genetically similar to the strain used in the 2021/2002 vaccine, antigen tests show that it’s not an exact match. This year’s dominant viral flu strain is H3N2, which is more virulent than other strains.
It’s a particularly tough time to tell whether you have spring allergies, a cold, flu or other virus. Naturopathic doctor, Amy Rothenberg, explains how to tell the difference and when to seek out help from a doctor.
Is it a cold, flu, allergies or COVID-19?
What is the Risk of Contracting the Flu this Spring?
Physicians in New Mexico are reporting similar uptick in cases to Colorado. Melissa Martinez, a professor of internal medicine at University of New Mexico (UNM) Health Sciences, said in a press statement that in the past few weeks, positive Covid-19 tests within the UNM Health Sciences system has been around 4%, but positive flu tests have increased to 17%.
Despite the jump in cases, the incidence of flu is still smaller than during the height of previously recorded flu seasons. The CDC flu data shows the positive test rate this season has not exceeded 10%, this is still low in comparison to past flu seasons over the past seven years, which peaked at higher than 30%.
Flu as of May 2022
Flu as of October 2021
Reduce Your Chances of Getting Sick
There are ways to reduce your chances of getting sick or at the very least reduce your severity of symptoms from any respiratory virus. Naturopathic doctor Amy Rothenberg suggests the following in the article, Natural Ways to Reduce Getting a Respiratory Virus:
- Address lifestyle-related, preexisting conditions like diabetes, prediabetes, diabesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Studies show that for the flu and COVID-19, severity of symptoms is higher when individuals have these types of preexisting conditions. Naturopathic medicine is designed to help you get any one or more of these conditions under control.
- Check for nutrient deficiencies like vitamin D, glutathione, fish oil and eat an anti-inflammatory diet, rich in quercitin, healthy fats, brightly colored fruits and vegetables and whole grains and legumes.
- Sleep, reduce stress and get moving. Sleep, practice mind-body stress reduction techniques and exercise regularly. Each of these practices reduces harmful hormones. As your stress levels increase, cortisol levels go up and this negatively impacts your immune function. Look here for naturopathic approaches to help with sleep problems.
Doctors say that it’s not too late to get the 2021/2022 flu shot, particularly for at-risk individuals. Risk factors for serious complications and death include: age 65 and older, autoimmune compromised and the following:
If you are considering getting any vaccine, please see the article by Amy Rothenberg, ND about how to prepare your body for a vaccine (of any type). Dr. Rothenberg’s advice may help reduce any known side effects and enhance the vaccine’s efficacy.
This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
This article is by Kimberly Lord Stewart, content and marketing director for the Institute for Natural Medicine. Stewart is an award-winning editor, food and health journalist and best-selling author of Eating Between the Lines, the supermarket shopper’s guide to the truth behind food labels (St. Martin’s Press).