It goes without saying, the spread of the flu this year is awful. You’ve either battled it yourself, or you know of at least 2 or 3 families who have battled it in the past few weeks. And from what I hear, it is something that really knocks you down for a good long time.
Here’s the latest report from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) on how widespread the flu is across the U.S. as of the first week of 2020.
Seeing all these reports, I’m doing everything I can to bolster my immune system and keep the flu at bay. My biggest concern, though, is for my 80-year-old mom. While she is in good health now, I would hate for her to have to fight the flu. It would be very hard on her, I’m sure.
As a result, I did some research…
In recent years, there have been multiple studies about the way indoor air quality — specifically relative humidity — affects not only the spread of the flu but also the ability to get well once you’ve contracted the flu.
It all began with Harvard Medical School graduate and lecturer, Dr. Stephanie Taylor. She and colleagues studied 370 patients in one unit of a hospital to try to isolate the factors associated with patient infections. They tested and retested 8 million data points for every variable they could think of to explain the likelihood of infection. Was it hand hygiene? We hear the mantra wash your hands frequently to avoid the flu all the time. Was it fragility of the patients? It’s been noted that infants and the elderly are more susceptible. Or were the hospital rooms just not getting cleaned well enough? Taylor thought it might have something to do with the number of visitors to the patient’s room.
While all those factors had modest influence, one factor stood out above them all, and it shocked the research team. The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air.
At low relative humidity, indoor air was strongly associated with higher infection rates. “When we dry the air out, droplets and skin flakes carrying viruses and bacteria are launched into the air, traveling far and over long periods of time. The microbes that survive this launching tend to be the ones that cause healthcare-associated infections,” said Taylor. “Even worse, in addition to this increased exposure to infectious particles, the dry air also harms our natural immune barriers which protect us from infections.” 1
Indoor air hydration is essential to stop the spread…
When infected people breathe, talk or cough their naturally humid airways expel thousands of droplets containing saliva and mucus with embedded microbes into the ambient air. When expelled droplets encounter dry room air with a relative humidity of less than 40%, they instantly shrink by roughly 90%. This doesn’t kill the microbes, it actually enables them to remain airborne for extended periods of time and be carried over great distances, which increases the chance that they will reach another person.
In an environment where the indoor air relative humidity is from 40% to 60%, the respiratory droplets maintain their size without shrinking. The microbes don’t travel far, land on surfaces that may be cleaned and the possibility of another person being exposed is proportionately decreased.
Indoor air hydration is essential to help you heal…
A recently published scientific study by Yale University shows breathing air with low humidity reduces our immune system’s capability to fight off flu infections. The Yale study was carried out by Dr. Akiko Iwasaki who states: “What we found was that low humidity impairs the ability of the respiratory tract, lung, and nose to get rid of the flu virus. In the airway cells, hair-like projections called cilia, are constantly moving inhaled particles along to get rid of them. However, in low humidity, we found that this cilia movement, as well as particle removal, was impaired. This is particularly important for people who are very susceptible such as the very young infant or the older person over 65, as mortality from flu mostly occurs in this age group.”
The researchers also observed that low humidity reduces the ability of cells in the lungs, damaged by flu, to repair themselves. The third effect of low humidity identified in this study was that infected cells stopped signaling for help from neighboring cells. The ability to recruit additional immune cells to fight invading viruses or bacteria is an essential part of the body’s natural defense system and is key to limiting disease from infections. 2
Water is the solution
1) Consider running a humidifier in your home.
You may want to purchase a humidity gauge to monitor your home’s air quality. The optimal relative humidity is 40% – 60%.
2) Drink more water.
It is recommended that you drink half your body weight in ounces every day. The rates vary based on age, weight, and physical activity, but the adult body often loses well over 60 ounces of water each day.
I find adding Young Living Vitality essential oils to my water, gives me an incentive to drink more often. The Vitality essential oils are Young Living’s exclusive line that is labeled for ingestion. Adding Vitality essential oils such as lemon, grapefruit, orange, or lime creates an enjoyable, refreshing beverage.
You can also make it a habit to:
- Drink water immediately after waking up on an empty stomach.
- Drink a glass of water at least 30 minutes before eating to aid digestion.
- Drink 8 oz of water before you exercise.
- Sip water during exercise.
- Drink a glass of water after your workout.
- Drink a glass of water when you are feeling tired to recharge your system.
- Drink a glass of water when you have been interacting with sick people.
- Drink a glass of water before taking a bath to help lower blood pressure.
- Drink a glass of water before going to bed.
3) Diffuse, Diffuse, Diffuse!
Lately, we have an essential oil diffuser running in multiple rooms in our house at all times.
Ultrasonic diffusers use water and essential oils to create a cool mist of water and essential oils combined. Not only does it act as a humidifier, but there is also great benefit to breathing in the molecules of essential oils, too.
This time of year we often diffuse Thieves® essential oil blend because it is a powerful combination of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils. Other favorites we diffuse this time of year include Young Living Citrus Fresh®, Orange, Lemon, Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Globulus, Ginger, and Nutmeg. Try them alone or try different combinations to see what you like best.
At night, we choose calming oils to diffuse next to the bed. Some favorites include lavender, cedarwood, or Young Living’s Peace & Calming essential oil blend.
Diffusing Young Living brand essential oils creates a clean, purified, fresh-smelling environment because diffused oils alter the structure of molecules that create odors, rather than just masking them.
Are you in need of an essential oil diffuser and Young Living essential oils? Your best option is a starter kit from Young Living! It comes with everything you need to start diffusing essential oils in your home. CLICK HERE to get your Young Living Starter Kit now.
You’ll find the research here:
- 1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/leahbinder/2019/10/17/harvard-researcher-says-this-inexpensive-action-will-lower-hospital-infection-rates-and-protect-us-for-the-flu-season/#43e1d24b1824 – “This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season”
- 2 https://www.ghp-news.com/2019-new-study-dry-air-is-flu-s-best-friend – “New Study: Dry Air is Flu’s Best Friend
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23460865 – “High humidity leads to loss of infectious influenza virus from simulated coughs.”
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24789791 – “Roles of humidity and temperature in shaping influenza seasonality.”
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678699 – “Decline in temperature and humidity increases the occurrence of influenza in cold climate.”
- https://www.pnas.org/content/116/22/10905.short – “Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection”