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Will Leaf Blowers Jeopardize Your Hearing?





Inside your inner ear are tiny hair-like structures vital to your hearing. As you age, these cells begin to degrade, reducing your sensitivity to sound. However, you may also suffer damage to your hearing from exposure to loud noises.

As James Fallows, staff writer at The Atlantic discusses in this short video, dangers to your hearing don’t have to come from loud music, entertainment or massive construction machinery. The seemingly inconsequential gas-powered leaf blower may play a pivotal role increasing your risk of hearing damage and loss.

Even minor hearing loss is associated with negative consequences. After controlling for education and other important demographic factors, hearing loss is independently associated with economic hardship and underemployment.1

Social rejection, loneliness and avoidance or withdrawal from organized social situations triggered by hearing loss also increases the risk for depression,2 and since hearing loss reduces the ability to be alert to environmental cues that may signal dangerous situations, your risk of an accident also increases.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University3 found a strong link between the degree of hearing loss and the risk for dementia. Hearing loss may also complicate the diagnosis and prognosis of those suffering from dementia.

Hearing and Loud Noise

Hearing is a complex function that begins in the outer ear and ends once sound waves are converted into neurological signals and transmitted to your brain. These electrical impulses are created in the cochlea after sound has vibrated your eardrum, moving a tiny group of bones in your middle ear, called the malleus, incus and stapes.

These bones are collectively known as the ossicles and amplify sound force, passing them to your inner ear and cochlea. Inside the cochlea, a conch shell-shaped structure, are 20,000 to 30,000 small hair-like fibers.4 The movement from these cells sends an electrical impulse through the cochlear nerve, which is in turn transmitted to the cerebral cortex in your brain where sound is interpreted.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),5 more than 1.1 billion teens and young adults are at risk of losing their hearing due to unsafe levels of recreational noise. Nearly half of those aged 12 to 35 are exposed to unsafe sound levels from personal audio devices, and they estimate over 43 million young people worldwide are currently living with disabling hearing loss.

WHO recommends levels no higher than 85 decibels (dB) for a maximum of eight hours in the workplace in order to protect against hearing loss. However, they note many are exposed to levels of 100 dBs or more in entertainment venues. As a comparison, the American Hearing Research Foundation compiled a chart of approximate levels of common sounds, including:6

  • 30 dB — whisper in a quiet library
  • 60 dB — normal conversation
  • 90 to 100 dB — lawnmower, shop tools, truck traffic, chain saw, snowmobile; two hours maximum exposure without protection
  • 115 dB — sandblasting, rock concert, auto horn; 15 minutes per day maximum exposure without protection
  • 140 dB — gun blast, jet engine; brief exposure injures unprotected ears

The Sound of Fall Weather

Fall weather used to herald the sounds of metal or plastic rakes against dry leaves and lawn debris. With the invention of the backpack gas engine leaf blower, the sound of fall has gotten noticeably louder. And, unfortunately, while these leaf blowers are highly productive, they also damage your ears and the hearing of those who happen to be nearby.

According to Nancy Napolitano, interim director of audiology at St Luke’s University Health Network, more people are arriving with noise-induced hearing loss than in years past, many of them in their 50s and younger.7 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition.8

Nearly twice as many report having hearing loss as suffering from diabetes or cancer. The more often people are exposed to loud noises over 90 dBs, the greater the damage. Nearly 53 percent of those between the ages of 20 and 69 who have hearing damage report they had no on-the-job exposure to loud noise, indicating their exposure may have occurred at home or at entertainment venues.9

Approximately 20 percent of adults with no job exposure to loud sound have hearing damage. It is believed hearing damage is triggered at 85 dB of exposure for approximately eight hours. To compare, traffic noise inside your car measures 80 dB, while a leaf blower can measure between 90 and 115 dBs depending on the device. Exposure to 90 dBs of noise for two hours can trigger hearing damage.

Nearly 7 percent of those between the ages of 20 and 29 report hearing loss. The prevalence rises with age, reaching 50 percent by age 50 and 68 percent by age 60.10

Noisy work environments, medications that affect your hearing, being over the age of 40 and a male are also risk factors. As discussed earlier, hearing loss is more than just an inconvenience. It can lead to cognitive decline, depression and anxiety, social isolation and even loss of income.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor,11 an estimated $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability. The first year of treatment in older adults is projected to increase more than 500 percent from $8 billion spent in 2002 to an estimated $51 billion in 2030.12

Tinnitus May Signal Hearing Damage and Future Losses

Many have experienced ringing in their ears, especially after being in a loud environment. Also called tinnitus, this perception of noise is not triggered by a source in the environment but, rather, is related to damage in the inner ear.13

In the past year, roughly 10 percent of U.S. adults have experienced tinnitus and more than a third of those have nearly constant symptoms. The exact experience differs from person to person. Some describe it as a ringing in their ears, while others as a high pitched hissing, low-pitched roar, chirping, screeching or even musical sounds.

Tinnitus may be experienced in one or both ears; it may remain constant or be intermittent; and some only hear tinnitus if they’re in a completely quiet setting.14 In the past, the majority of cases were diagnosed after the age of 50, but recent data demonstrates it is becoming common in youth, likely due to an increased exposure to environmental noise.

In a study15 of 170 students between the ages of 11 and 17, researchers from McMaster University in Canada found “risky listening habits,” including exposure to loud noise at parties or concerts, were the norm. More than half the participants experienced tinnitus in the past, considered a warning sign for hearing damage.

Nearly 29 percent of the students had already developed chronic tinnitus measured by a psychoacoustic examination in a sound booth. Those with tinnitus had a reduced tolerance for loud noises, a sign of damage to the auditory nerves. When damaged, they prompt the brain to increase sensitivity to noise, essentially making sounds seem louder than they really are.

Tinnitus is also associated with coexisting anxiety and those with tinnitus have a higher risk of suffering depression and anxiety disorders. In one study, emotional exhaustion — or the feeling of being drained due to chronic stress — was a strong predictor of symptom severity.16

Age-Related Hearing Loss May Be Positively Impacted by Exercise and Nutrition

Hearing loss reported in those over 60 may be affected by age-related cell damage in the cochlea. While benefits from exercise range from weight loss, improved bone density and cardiovascular fitness to supporting your immune system, research has also linked aerobic exercise with a lower risk for hearing loss with age.

Using an animal model,17 research data showed sedentary mice lost important auditory structures in the cochlea affecting their hearing. Those who exercised experienced 5 percent hearing loss during their lifetime while sedentary mice experienced an average of 20 percent hearing loss.

Researchers estimated 70 percent of hearing loss in people over 70 is related to the loss of these structures. As your auditory system never stops working, it requires a high level of energy and a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients.

It is not surprising to also find nutritional imbalances may be another significant causative factor in hearing loss. Nutrients found to be most beneficial for protecting and improving your hearing are:18,19,20,21

  • Carotenoids, especially astaxanthin and vitamin A
  • Folate (vitamin B9)
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

Nutrients function by protecting against oxidative stress and preventing free radical damage. This improves blood flow and reduces the damage to the cochlea related to a compromised vascular system. Those affected by noise-induced tinnitus may benefit from higher folate levels.

Folate lowers homocysteine,22 high levels of which have been associated with age-related hearing loss.23 The ideal way to raise your vitamin levels is through your diet. Folate can be found in fresh, raw (ideally organic) leafy green vegetables, asparagus, spinach, turnip greens and broccoli.

There is a difference between folic acid typically found in supplements, and folate. In order for folic acid to be used by your body it must first be activated into a biologically active form to cross the blood-brain barrier.

It’s estimated nearly half of all Americans have difficulty converting folic acid because of a genetic reduction in enzyme activity. For this reason, if you take a B vitamin supplement, ensure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.

Gas Powered Leaf Blowers Present Yet Another Risk

Aside from hearing damage, wearing a leaf blower strapped to your back may also increase your risk of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The most dangerous pollution affecting you today is likely the invisible sea of EMF your body swims through daily. Your risk of exposure increases with your proximity to the source.

When the leaf blower is worn as a backpack, this places the source of EMF pollution directly against your body. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,24 EMFs are “invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power.”

Damage from EMF begins at the cellular level. Martin Pall, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, has identified and published several papers on the subject.25,26 

For an end in-depth discussion of how EMF exposure affects the development of chronic diseases, see my previous article, “Reduce EMF Exposure.” These are important concepts as they relate to your close contact exposure when using a gas powered leaf blower harnessed on your back.

Protect Your Ears and Reduce Your Risk of Hearing Loss

If you’re a homeowner or work in the landscape business, a leaf blower is likely the most effective way to remove leaves and debris from the property. But, before shouldering an engine-powered yard machine, consider switching to a hand-held, cordless, battery-powered option.

These are lighter weight, easier to handle and are not directly attached to your body over a large surface area — your back. If you must use an engine-powered leaf blower, it is vital you use ear muffs rated at least up to 120 dB. Although ear plugs are available, Napolitano recommends ear muffs as they are much easier to use, and provide better protection.27

It is also important to eat a diet high in nutrient-rich, organic, whole foods to protect your hearing. Foods high in nutrients important to your hearing include dark leafy greens, orange colored vegetables, quinoa, avocado and pastured, non-GMO, organic dairy products.28,29,30

The effects of noise pollution also extend to reduced sleep quality, increased risk of heart disease and rising stress levels. For a discussion of these effects and more, see my previous article, “Quieting Down Could Save Billions in Heart Disease Costs.


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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes





(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it





Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes





In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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