October marks more than just the start of fall and cooler temperatures, it also means we’re entering flu season. And for most of us, the threat of flu symptoms can be scarier than Halloween. We cower as “the infected” shuffle their way through the office and school hallways, spreading the virus to unsuspecting victims.
As much as 20% of the U.S. population is affected by influenza each year. On average, 200,000 of those Americans will end up needing to be hospitalized because of the virus. Influenza truly is a worry, but more than anything…we just don’t have time to get sick.
That’s why it’s important to practice good hygiene during this frightful time, and to get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are an effective preventative measure, and a new study has revealed an unorthodox way to increase their success in older adults. Getting vaccinated is estimated to be effective in warding off illness in only 17% to 53% of older adults. This new research, found in “Brain, Behavior and Immunity,” examined the behaviors and psychological factors in 138 adults between the ages of 65 and 85 and may have discovered an unexpected way to better those odds.
The study showed that patient behavior, as well as psychological factors, can act as “immune modulators.”
The scientists traced the diet, mood, sleep pattern, and stress levels of the patients both before and after vaccination. They then tested their blood at four and 16 weeks after injection to determine the antibody response.
Surprisingly, a positive mood was correlated with higher levels of antibodies to the H1N1 flu virus.
The details and significance of this discovery are still being examined, but there seems to be evidence that a positive attitude on the day of vaccination enhances its effectiveness. At the very least, a smile can’t hurt. So on a morning when you wake up on the right side of the bed, you’ve had your routine caffeine boost and you’re feeling particularly good about yourself and the day ahead…consider adding a flu vaccination to your itinerary. It just might increase your chances of beating the dreaded aches, pains and runny nose this season.
Hey…it’s worth a shot. ; )