How often do you get the flu?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:48 AM GMT
    Hi guys, just wondering about this question because right now, I'm down with the flu (Sydney is in the middle of autumn) - again. This happens to be 2-3 times a year, 1-2 weeks in duration. I have seemingly healthy habits, eat fruit and vegetables and drink about 1.5 litres of water every day, take fish oil and blueberry tablets, go to the gym 2-3 times a week, go to bed at around 11pm and wake up 7:30am. I don't smoke, drink coffee or soft drinks, don't eat fried foods or takeaway hamburger or chips. I do have a somewhat pale complexion from a lack of outdoor physical activity and eating too little/skipping breakfast in my teenage years. For me, the flu always starts with a sore throat, and no amount of honey, propolis, echinacea tablets or salt water gargling could stop it getting worse. An RJ member previously suggested oregano oil - bought a bottle today, but was extremely expensive - AUD$45 for 15 ml which cost more than the average designer fragrance.

    Apart from the negative perception of "being sick again", it also sucks because I have to stop training, and usually lose 1-2 kilos afterwards, which is a lot for a hardgainer like myself.

    Anyway, there may be other factors such as living near a noisy main road, interrupted sleep, office work or stress - but for you guys, how often do you get sick?
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Apr 14, 2008 4:31 AM GMT
    I'd be a quite surprised if you truly had the flu several times a year--that would set off alarms in my head about your immune system being dangerously compromised. The flu will mean high fever and deep muscle aches, in addition to the standard cold-and-flu-like symptoms of tiredness, congestion, cough, headache, and sore throat. In small children and the elderly, influenza can also result in diarrhea and/or vomiting, but this is rare in adolescence through adulthood. (People who talk of getting a 'stomach flu' generally don't have the flu at all, which is a respiratory illness). Most people won't actually have the flu more often than once every few years; multiple times in the same year is very rare in those with healthy immune systems, as any individual region will typically be hit by only one major strain of influenza any given year.

    All that being said, it still sucks that you're getting ill that often, whether it's the flu, another virus, or something bacterial. I'd suggest talking to your doctor about how often this is happening to you, and how severe your symptoms are. You might have a case of chronic bronchitis if it's happening that often, for example.

    And to answer the original question: I'll typically get 3-4 colds in a year, which last anywhere from 24 hours to ~4 days. Unless I've got a really good reason to do otherwise, I'll take advantage of the flex time being a grad student entails, and not go to the lab at a time when anyone else is there if I can avoid it so as to not infect my labmates, and I don't go to the gym and spread my germs all over there either. With plenty of clear fluids, sleep, chicken broth and hot baths, I tend to get over my symptoms quickly. I'll actually get the flu once every ~4 years, and strep throat once every ~8 years.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Apr 14, 2008 4:38 AM GMT
    I agree with MSUB that I doubt you're getting the flu 2-3 times a year. That just doesn't sound right.

    I don't think I've gotten the flu in years. I usually make sure to get the flu shot each year, especially now that I work in a department attached to UCLA's medical center. I'm not exposed to a lot of patients in the halls, but still there are enough different kind of people using the common restroom, that I'm careful. I also work in a small office where there are four of us. Two of my coworkers were each sick 2-3 times each, the other coworker and I managed to stay healthy. There was a day I was sneezing a lot and was worried I was coming down with something. I went home and went to bed and slept a few hours. But it never got worse than that and less than a day later any signs were gone.

    I wash my hands regularly, eat reasonably healthy (a lot of fruits, vegetables, chicken, ground turkey), and work out 2-3 times a week.

    Eric
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 4:42 AM GMT
    I don't get sick very often by anything other than the common cold. I can't recall my last flu... no wait, 4 years ago, after my first move to city where it snowed more than once a year. But thanks to natural resistance and natural alternatives, I've pretty much kicked the flu bug... for now :/
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    Apr 14, 2008 5:03 AM GMT
    Like you One is Dawn Under, and in Autumn too, but still in shorts and T-shirts. But one only gets the flu, once ever three years, or so. One does not have flu shots either.

    Not bad considering, One is around sick people all the time, Via work.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 5:26 AM GMT
    The flu, I don't think I have gotten for many years. The cold, I have gotten two very mild cases this past winter due to repeated instances of close proximity to obvious cold-sufferers (bus, class, cramped hallways). Normally I can manage it just fine and it goes away within two or three days, but if its exam time then I tend to not get much rest and that exacerbates it further.

    I feel for you though, being sick is a major downer. It is just downright discomforting -- the sore throat makes you dread having to swallow and the stuffed nose robs you from tasting your favorite foods. The flu is caused by several nasty strains of viruses, and so most medications won't really be effective. The best advice I was given was just to get tons of sleep, keep yourself hydrated, and go easy on yourself until it goes away -- and it will go away eventually. Hope you get well soon.
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    Apr 14, 2008 5:45 AM GMT
    Ok, so maybe it's not the flu but the cold that I get so often - I tend to confuse the two as this article points out:
    http://www.drgreene.org/body.cfm?id=21&action=detail&ref=577
    So far, I'm dealing with the phlemy throat and runny congested nose but the headache and sore throat have gone. No fever or body aches so I guess it's not the flu then!icon_biggrin.gif Apparently most people will catch the cold 2-4 times a year:
    http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/colds.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_cold
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    Apr 14, 2008 5:53 AM GMT
    Ah, well I guess that is somewhat better then (less discomforting symptoms remaining). I can relate to you with the phlegm and runny nose. See I have a bad habit of swallowing the mucus in my nose (I know, yuk) and so I have been trying to stop doing that and instead blow it out or (I have been experimenting with this) sucking it in and splitting it out. I always thought the hack and spit was quite distasteful and crude, but when push comes to shove that's a better alternative than to swallow it. Because then it comes back and haunts you in your throat. icon_mad.gif Sorry if all this makes any of you grossed out.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Apr 14, 2008 6:01 AM GMT
    Rarely...maybe once every few years and it usually only lasts a day or two

  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Apr 14, 2008 6:02 AM GMT
    OK, now that you revise your description, 2-4 times a year for a cold probably isn't that unusual. There are years where I get that many colds. But, again, washing your hands frequently can go a long way to keep you healthy. If you work with sick people, clean common areas. A lot of people are willing to make other people sick because they don't want to use (or think they shouldn't use) a sick day.
  • yoheee

    Posts: 22

    Apr 14, 2008 6:47 AM GMT
    Like some other folks before me have said, a good way of avoiding the common cold is WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN. Now, being a hospitality management major and having passed a semi-mandatory SERVSAFE food certification training, one of the things that were stressed during the whole course was washing your hands.

    Washing your hands is something a lot of people don't do correctly (shocking, i know). The correct way to do it is to use the hottest water you can possibly stand and scrub your entire hands (front, back, under fingernails) with hand soap for about 15-20 seconds. The preferred soap is antibacterial or any type of pump soap (bar soap is ok too) Best way to measure the time is to sing The ABC song once or Happy Birthday twice (it works!) and then dry your hands completely with a paper towel. If you do this after every meal and especially when you use a public (or your own) bathroom, you cut your chances of catching a cold down by a lot.

    Just sharing some advice that i've been given, trust me it works. The number of colds i get a year has been reduced to 2-3 and they rarely last more than a week. 24hr Sudafed also helps when you do catch the inevitable cold!
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    Apr 14, 2008 7:09 AM GMT
    Thanks for the advice guys, and for your well wishes Relokou. There is one downside to washing hands with very hot water coupled with soap - it will erode your hands of natural protective oils unless you use moisturiser afterwards. Just as an aside, it's surprising how often you see waiters in the toilet not washing their hands when they leave.
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    Apr 14, 2008 8:04 AM GMT
    A good friend of mine is a physician - and I asked him how come he never gets sick. His answer - "Wash your hands a lot." I do this now and hardly ever get sick. I also take a number of good vitimins - including C (1500 mg a day) and Selenium (400 mcg a day) plus E (800 i.u.) I also drink a ton of lime and grapefruit juice - and eat tons of fruit / dark green vegetables / salmon / lean chicken. I also never touch a gas pump without using the blue cloths - same with grocery carts - I wipe them with the Clorox wipes - all these things help me stay healthy.
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    Apr 14, 2008 12:37 PM GMT
    I don't think I have ever gotten the flu. I don't really get colds either. Usually once in the fall and once in the spring my allergies freak out with the change of season. That lasts about 2 days and I'm good for 6 months.
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Apr 14, 2008 1:12 PM GMT
    I use to have flu, fever coughing , headache quite often. Until I start changing my lifestyle, eat organic, drink filter water only and exercise more. Another thing I do is not to stress myself mentally to much. I find out my immune system dont function to well, when I am under heavy stress, to much stress at work, extreme dieting, worrying to much..etc.
  • morholt

    Posts: 57

    Apr 14, 2008 1:45 PM GMT
    You can get a cold a couple of times a year but you only get the flu a few times (1 to 5 times maybe) in your life time.
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:55 PM GMT
    I work in a college dining hall, with grubby college students. Getting sick a few times a year comes with the job, sadly. It doesn't help that my coworkers come in sick all the time either.

    The flu though... I think it's been about two years since I've had it. I pick up colds every few months though.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:57 PM GMT
    Never, I get the flu shot because I am HIV+. It would be very bad for me to get the flu!

    The last time I contracted influenza was in 1975. I missed a week of school. I had a temperature of 102, with aches, chills, fever, and vomiting. At its' worse I wanted to die. Far worse than a cold.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:31 PM GMT
    I don't remember that last time I was sick.
    Never even a cold. I had my tonsils taken out 6 years ago. Before that I would get sore throats all the time.
    Like you I take the fish oil pills, but my blueberry pills are mixed with cranberry. I also get a flu shot every year.
    I eat 6 smaller meals a day, I get outside alot to exercise. The fresh air and sun is good for you.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 3:04 PM GMT
    I don't get the flu, but I don't usually get colds very often either - however last year around November I got a worse cold than usual which I had for about a week, then because I went to Europe on holidays almost straight after it went away and came back a few times. European winter can do that to a person icon_neutral.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 8:05 PM GMT
    i dont think i've ever had the flu...rarely a cold, just allergies, like right now with this heat wave in Los Angeles icon_sad.gif
  • treader

    Posts: 238

    Apr 14, 2008 8:28 PM GMT
    I had the flu twice this winter for about two weeks each. I define the flu as having a strong fever lasting several days with cold symptoms. I also get the flu shot every year in the Fall. I actually noticed a lot of people here in New England got sick more this winter than normal.

    Then I saw a news report in January that the US flu shot committee did a poor job predicting the active flu strains this winter so a lot more people have been sick this winter. Also they said that the shot is only 40% effective. I couldn't find that report on the web, but here's a follow-up report:

    http://www.necn.com/Boston/Health/Medical-Masters-Flu-season-is-the-worst-behind-us/1204479008.html

    I don't know if different US regions receive different flu shots.
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    Apr 14, 2008 9:00 PM GMT
    I had the flu for the first time in almost 10 years this winter. I always get vaccinated, but it doesn't cover every bug out there. I had forgotten how much it sucked. For two days I only got out of bed to use the bathroom and take theraflu. The rapid fever/ chills and snot geyser stage lasted for four days. It then settled into a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis that hung on for almost a month.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 15, 2008 8:35 PM GMT
    try beta-glucan which is an immuno-stimulant.and vitamin c.