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Cold and Flu Remedies and Ebola? Focus on the Immune System

America’s keeping a close eye on Ebola, especially since there’s no cure for the deadly virus. So the best medicine so far is either isolation or practicing careful hygiene. The CDC states there is no FDA-approved vaccine yet, and “recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response.” In his video blog here Dr. Michael Corsilles talks about some great immune boosters for general colds and flu.

Here’s also a few reminders about Ebola that most of us are already aware of:

  • Ebola is extremely infectious, but not extremely contagious. It is infectious because an infinitesimally small amount can cause illness. It’s not extremely contagious because the virus is not transmitted through the air. In other, more contagious diseases – like measles or influenza – the virus particles are airborne.
  • Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person, or contaminated objects from an infected person.
  • Typical symptoms are fever, severe headache, weakness, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting or stomach pain. You can also have unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms usually appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, but the average is 8-10 days.
  • What ends up harming us in the end is actually the immune response to Ebola. Our immune response will dial up rapidly to try to kill the virus and creates what’s called the “cytokine storm.” Cytokines are part of the immune system geared to activate certain aspects of our immunity to fight off an infection and Ebola makes our cytokines go wild. As a result, our body gets damaged from our immune system!

With us already in the midst of flu season, focus on bolstering the immune response. Note: Whether it’s Ebola or influenza, antibiotics work on bacteria only, not viruses. And the majority of colds are caused by – yes you guessed it – viruses!

The last few things to remember is that there are many other things that can kill us quickly other than Ebola, and of course these cold and flu treatments are not intended to cure Ebola. They are meant to help prevent you from getting a virus – any virus. There are more potential Ebola treatments currently under research, but with the coming flu season and the “Ebola-pocalypse,” at least arm yourself with the best weapons to help your immune system!

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