How Long Are You Contagious With The Flu?

It happens to the best of us. You wake up one day and you are completely man-down with a stuffy nose, fever and body aches. And now you need to message your manager and tell them that you’re the office’s patient-zero and face the guilt-trip from your colleagues.

Adults are contagious before they even realize they’re sick. The virus can spread from up to 24 hours before you start showing any symptoms (sneaky bugs!) and can spread for a further week after you are really in the thick of being sick.

This contagious period can last even longer for kids or people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly. That being said, you’re most contagious with the flu during the first three to four days after you begin feeling sick.

Is There A Way To Tell If You’re Contagious?

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The best way to judge if you’re still contagious is timing. Because symptoms of the flu typically begin about two days after the virus enters the body (but could appear anytime between 1 and 4 days after infection begins), you should be particularly careful during your first week of symptoms. Meaning, stay home from work or school, if possible, and be careful to avoid direct contact with other people. Drink lot’s of water & make an appointment to see your practitioner if you’re worried about your symptoms and would like help to ease them and recover quicker.

I’ve also written a post with my favourite herbs to treat colds & flu, which you can read here.

The Hormones Causing Your Hairloss

To any woman who’s suffered from a hormone imbalance and the many symptoms that come with them it won’t surprise you to learn that hormones and hair loss are connected. And it’s more common than you think! Male pattern baldness is an expected, if often trivialized, part of aging for many men. Its female counterpart is seldom discussed until it becomes a problem. Women suffering from health issues, excessive stress, or simply going through menopause are waking up to find more hair than usual in their drain.

So what’s the reason behind this epidemic of hair issues? It’s likely due to modern life and the stress—both physical, mental, and hormonal—that many of us experience daily. To get down to the root cause, it’s always best to consult a trusted practitioner, but here are some key hormones which may be the culprit.

1.Testosterone

Androgenic Alopecia. When it comes to a testosterone imbalance, many think of a middle-aged man with thinning hair, trying to cover it up with a comb-over (think Donald Trump). Historically, practitioners blamed it on excess testosterone, but that’s only part of the story.

The real culprit appears to be dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent derivative of testosterone. Simply put, under certain conditions DHT wants those hair follicles dead. Scientists now believe that it’s not the amount of circulating testosterone that’s the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it damn-near impossible for healthy hair to survive.

Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women.

2. Thyroid Hormone

The thyroid hormone is thought to be the “master metabolism” hormone, and it’s probably the most straightforward culprit behind hair loss, especially in women. If you have dry skin, brittle nails, fatigue, and hair loss—it’s a telltale sign that your thyroid may be under stress and you should look into it.

When the thyroid is under stress or poorly nourished, it starts to focus its efforts on supporting the bodily processes (like breathing and regulating heart rate) that support and sustain life and it stops paying as much attention to less vital functions, like hair growth.

3. Insulin

It has long been known that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is driven by chronically elevated insulin (hyperinsulinemia), which causes hair loss, acne, and weight gain, among other symptoms. And it’s not just in women that insulin is important! Men with hyperinsulinemia seem to suffer from hair loss as well.

Insulin resistance is also linked to Androgenic alopecia and can lead to diabetes, which left untreated, can have life-long damaging effects. The best way to treat this type of hair loss is by cutting down the amount of sugar in your diet, but make sure that this is the actual cause of your hair-loss before treating it aimlessly

4. Estrogen

Many women find that in pregnancy, when estrogen levels rise and then fall after birth, a large amount of their hair falls out. This is also true for many women during menopause, when estrogen levels are also falling. But it’s not just about having more estrogen in the body to prevent hair loss because chronic estrogen dominance can cause hair loss as well.

Just like excess testosterone (and DHT) can cause hair troubles, so can too much estrogen. For some women, excess estrogen may trigger hair loss because of a gene variant that affects the functioning of an enzyme (aromatase) that processes estrogen.

How To Get Those Luscious Locks?

Hormones are cyclical. Testosterone levels in some men drop by 10% each decade after age 30. Women’s hormone levels decline as menopause approaches and drop sharply during menopause and beyond. The cyclic nature of both our hair and hormones is one reason hair loss can increase in the short term even when you are having a long-term slowdown of hair loss (and a long-term increase in hair growth) while on a treatment that controls hair loss.

If you’re worried at all about the state of your hair, get in touch so we can figure out what the root cause of your problem may be.

Signs Your Hormones May Be Out of Balance

I hear you. You’re working out daily, eating all the greens you can lay your eyes on and yet you’re still picking up weight and your skin has started to break out like you’re 30 going on 13.

We talk about hormones so often; Whether we’re referring to an emotional woman as being “hormonal” (PSA to all the men: don’t do that), or talking about our sex drives or their part in the natural progression of a woman to procreate and our ‘ticking clocks’.

As women, we’ve been brought up believing that having hormonal ebbs and flows are just a part of being female and that there’s nothing that we can do about the symptoms that come along with it. We often notice the symptoms but assume that its a) normal or b) something we just need to put up with. And it’s this part that really gets to me. So many women suffer year in and year out thinking that there’s nothing they can do about managing or treating the cause of these symptoms.

Our bodies are designed to work in a balanced state; so why are we okay with having an hormone IMbalance? There are so many signs that women experience and don’t attribute it to their hormones because we’ve been brought up with the understanding that if it doesn’t affect our menstrual cycle, then it can’t be our hormones in trouble.

Here are a few little-known symptoms of hormone imbalance to look out for that aren’t typically associated with your menstrual cycle & PMS. Hair Loss or Thinning

  • Hair Loss or Thinning

Mostly in women, hair loss & thinning is attributed to thyroid hormones and testosterone. But it can also be attributed to insulin, estrogen and certain chronic medications.  

  • Insomnia

SO many hormones can be the monsters under our beds when it comes to insomnia. Estrogen is our biggest sleep-maintaining hormone, however, progesterone also plays a role in calming the nervous system and imbalances with testosterone, cortisol and serotonin can all create the perfect night light that keeps us awake.

  • Weight Gain

That pesky stress hormone cortisol is usually the culprit that keeps us from hitting our weight-loss & fitness goals but hormones including leptin (the hormone that breaks down fat), testosterone, insulin and estrogen can all play a role.

  • Brain Fog

Feeling like your thoughts are a bit jumbled up? Can’t find your keys or forgot why you walked into a room? An imbalance in GABA, serotonin, cortisol, FSH or dopamine could all be playing a role here.

  • Night Sweats & Hot Flushes

Most people associate night sweats & hot flushes with menopause. And it’s true that night sweats are one in a constellation of symptoms associated with it, but women in their early 20’s can experience these symptoms and they are by no means going through menopause (or shouldn’t be. Previously, it was thought that having low estrogen was the problem. But more recently, we have come to understand that progesterone, cortisol and thyroid hormones can all be involved here.

So Where To From Here?

When it comes to treating hormonal imbalance, there is no one-size-fits-all option.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above or more, its always best to see a registered health practitioner so that you can identify the exact cause of your symptoms and get guided, individualised treatment.

My Top 5 Go-To Herbs For Colds & Flu

Treating any kind of problems affecting the respiratory system is  my absolute favourite thing to do. Patients can see a difference in their symptoms so quickly which is really satisfying from a “customer satisfaction” point of view. The lungs are such a life-force to the human body. Think about taking a breath of fresh air – how rejuvenating it can feel & how restrictive it feels when you’re in the full swing of a flu and can barely breath through the mucous build-up & constant coughing.

While my treatments are always individualised, I do have my go-to ‘top performers’ when it comes to the respiratory system. You can read more on the differences between colds & flu here

Olive Leaf

For some unknown reason, I never used this herb at university, but seem to be including it in every prescription in practice. 

It contains oleuropein which is readily absorbed by the body & is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and especially it’s anti-viral properties. This makes it exceptionally good at fighting off the flu. There have even been theoretical investigations into using olive leaf extract in fighting HIV

Echinacea

Echinacea has got to be one of the biggest celebrities in immunity world. Numerous studies showcase it’s effectiveness in specifically modulating the immune system and fighting off colds & flu’s. In the US, echinacea extract sales total more than $100 million annually. Now, I’m not one for touting big pharma, but people don’t carry on buying something that doesn’t work. 

Ethanolic extracts (tinctures) contain multiple constituents that can suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and upregulate phagocytic activity.

Simply put, Echinacea supports the immune system by stopping inflammation and actively killing off harmful pathogens. 

Pelargonium 

A South African BEAUTY! I love this plant so much – it tastes great in remedies and is super effective, especially in children. Have been thinking of experimenting with making medicinal lozenges with pelargonium as the base. Would you be keen on getting a recipe?

Studies have shown it’s specific effective use in bronchitis and sinusitis

Mint

Congested nose? Just sniffing this potent plant is a god-send. This herb is almost always the base of my medicinal tea preparations. The essential oils that are given off when brewed, not only break down mucous but have amazing antimicrobial properties. 

Sage

Sage can sometimes be a tricky herb when it comes to colds and flu’s. It can be incredibly ‘drying’ so I wouldn’t use it for a harsh cough – only for productive, mucous-filled coughs that need drying up. 

Medications can also interact with Sage. Especially diabetic medications, which I see all-too-often in practice. Which is why I won’t often use Sage in a prescription, but when I do, I’m very happy with the results. 

Do you have any herbs that you run to when you feel a cold/flu coming on? Drop a comment below & I’ll let you know the science behind why it can be so effective.