Autumn is here and the staff at my clinic are gearing up for a big cold and flu season. Last year we passed out gallons on elderberry syrup in 2 ounce bottles that was donated by a local herb company. This year we plan to follow the same path but with a bit more complexity.

Sweet gum leafWe’re assembling to-go kits now that include hand sanitizer, masks, herbal tea, vitamins, throat lozenges, supplements, soap, and information on treatment. Elderberry is part of this packet, but we know that it’s good for treatment and prevention of the flu virus.

The news of EV-D68 has us unnerved. It’s not a flu virus, but it has flu-like symptoms. In its mild stages, the patient exhibits fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Progressed cases might have wheezing and difficulty breathing. As an urgent care clinic, we don’t have laboratory facilities but we can, like any other clinic, refer a suspect case or one with severe symptoms listed above to the hospital for testing.

There is no vaccine for EV-D68. There is no antiviral medication to treat it. The only thing the CDC is suggesting, at the time of this writing, is to use proper hygiene to avoid contact with those who are ill. As prevention is the only straw that we can grasp, we’re holding on tightly. We’re promoting hygiene and awareness at every turn.

I’m a firm believer in safety. I understand why people, especially parents are afraid.  Panic makes people do really dumb things. So when we get a stressful scenario like an enterovirus that was formerly mild suddenly turn aggressive, I take a deep breath, do my research and move cautiously. Panic is not a luxury we have at clinic.

After clinic, I take a hot shower and throw my clothes into the wash as soon as I can. I wipe down my supplies with a diluted Four Thieves Vinegar solution as an extra precaution. Alcohol based sanitizer is designed to attack bacteria, not viruses. We have hospital grade disinfectant we use at clinic. At home, I just want to be sure.

I have two essential oils I use as the “big guns” against viral infections: lavender and tea tree. They’re very different in character but have never failed me. I have a small clay bead my son made me when he was in grade school.  Just a few drops of each essential oil on the bead in my car get me through the transition from clinic to home.

I know my cold and flu prevention regime at home needs to include plenty of rest, lots of herbal tea, a healthy diet and reduced stress. I also wash my hands … a lot. I can’t afford to get sick any more than can my peers. I don’t want to be the person that brings illness into my own home either. In the three years I’ve worked at clinic, these precautions have kept me safe. I pick up the random sinus infection here and there but dodge the hardcore illnesses to which I am exposed. For that I am grateful.

Our flu season kits are put together from donations garnered from our community. People understand they’re safer when we have a chance at proper healthcare. So far, it’s working pretty good. I guess I’m grateful for that too.