For most of us, the thought of getting a shot isn’t something that’s going to make us happy. That’s a shame, because being happy when you get your flu vaccination can significantly improve its effectiveness, according to a new study. That’s another great way that smiling can help you stay healthy.
How Vaccinations Work
Vaccinations are very effective at preventing illness related to viral infection, and, sometimes they can help prevent bacterial infections, too. In a vaccination, you receive a weakened or killed form of the pathogen, which your body learns to recognize, producing antibodies and other defenses. These help your body resist infection when exposed to the actual disease.
The main limitation for vaccinations is that they depend on your immune system. So if your immune system isn’t working well, you’ll see less benefit from vaccines. So the very people who are most vulnerable to the illness and most need the benefit, are least likely to benefit.
That’s why researchers are looking for ways to boost the immune system, and they found one in the simplest of places: your smile.
Happiness Boosts the Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines
To determine the impact of happiness on vaccinations, researchers from Nottingham University looked at 138 retirees in Britain who were given seasonal flu vaccinations. They asked the patients about many aspects of their lifestyle and mood, including their current happiness and average happiness over the last six weeks, their exercise levels, how much sleep they got, and their diet.
Researchers then measured the amount of antibodies patients had produced at four and sixteen weeks after injection. They found that how someone felt on the day they got their injection influenced how many antibodies they produced by about eight to fourteen percent.
How to Maximize This Benefit
This study is more evidence of the power of a smile. But how do you harness this power to get better results from your flu shot? There are some things you can do, such as yoga, that have been shown to boost both your mood and your immune system function.
Another trick is to just pick a day when you’re feeling good to get your flu shot. Many walk-up clinics in Las Vegas will administer a flu shot without an appointment. Just get your shot when you’re in a good mood and enjoy the benefits.
But probably one of the simplest ways to help yourself feel better so you’ll get the best benefit out of your shot is to smile more often. Smiling is a simple way to boost your mood, which can have many benefits beyond the immune system boost.
But what if you’re unhappy with your smile? Well, that’s where we can help. We can give you a beautiful smile you’ll love to share. And we can help keep your smile healthy, which can also improve your immune system so you’re less likely to get sick.