Cold and Flu

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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    Research has found that gargling with tap water may help prevent colds. In one study of nearly 400 healthy people, those who gargled with tap water three times a day had fewer colds during prime cold and flu season than did people who didn’t gargle. Even when a gargler caught a cold, he or she was less likely to develop bronchial problems than non-garglers.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    If your nose looks like a radish and your eyes are more watery than chicken soup  at a bad diner, the only equipment you should be operating is a thermometer. The common cold, it turns out, is a car accident waiting to happen. The sneezing, tearing, fever, and puffy eyes make your reactions behind the wheel as slow and unsteady as a party-goer driving drunk, reports a United Kingdom team.

    One reason: A single sneeze lasts two to three seconds, and your eyes automatically close during the action. If you’re driving 70 miles an hour and sneeze, you’re driving blind for 315 feet. You don't need us to tell you that's scary. It also explains something we didn’t understand in the past: why getting a flu shot decreases car accident deaths.

    North Americans get 1 billion colds each year, so you can bet many sneezing, blowing, dripping drivers will be bobbing and weaving down highways. Don’t be one of them. But what if you have a ferocious cold and absolutely have to go someplace? Do NOT take the nearest cold medicine without checking the warning label. Many cold medicines contain decongestants that can give you the shakes or make you nod off or respond slower. Instead, pick up the phone and ask a friend or a taxi service for a lift.

    Once you’re back on your feet, stave off your next battle of the sinuses by getting eight hours of sleep nightly, taking 1,000 IUs a day of the virus-fighting vitamin D3, and wash your hands like a maniac.
  • 3 Answers
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    A answered
    Children are both highly likely to get the flu and the most likely to transmit it to others. In fact, studies find that:
    • Children are more likely than adults to get the flu and to have complications with the illness. The flu is most serious in children under age two.
    • Families with school-age children experience more flu infections than those without because schools are ideal locations for viruses to attack and spread. On average, about one-third of family members of school-aged children are infected with the flu each year.
    • Children do not have as much natural immunity to influenza as adults because they have had less lifetime exposure. Also, close contact with other children in school, home and day-care settings increases a child's risk of getting and spreading the virus.
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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    To diagnose the flu, a doctor or nurse will swab the inside of your nose and the back of your throat with a device that looks like a cotton swab. This is called the “rapid influenza diagnostic test,” and it gives health-care providers results within 30 minutes. Sometimes the rapid test gives a false-negative result, which means that it says you're not infected when you actually are. If the test is negative, and you have special health concerns, your doctor may decide to send the swab to a lab for more testing. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems sometimes require care when they have the flu.
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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    A cold can become serious when it leads to a secondary infection such as sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia. Sometimes what looks like a cold may actually be strep throat, which needs to be treated with an antibiotic. A cold can also become serious in people with asthma or conditions that weaken the immune system or health in general.
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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    The possible complications of a cold include a secondary infection such as sinusitis, an ear infection, bronchitis or pneumonia. If you experience a high fever, ear pain, a sinus headache, a worsening cough or a flare-up of asthma—or your cold lasts longer than 10 days—call your doctor.
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    A Pediatrics, answered on behalf of
    Impetigo.  Sometimes the skin gets very irritated due to mucous from a runny nose.  Bacteria can take advantage of this irritated skin and start growing.  It frequently causes a honey colored crusty rash.  Oral or topical antibiotics are used to treat this infection.
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  • 1 Answer
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    A , Hospitalist, answered
    A chest cold suggests that you had bronchitis caused by a viral infection. A cough can persist for two to three months after an episode of bronchitis.

    Your immune system almost surely fought off the actual infection within a week. An infection in the bronchial tubes can leave you with inflamed airways. These inflamed airways will cause the coughing. The inflammation also can lead to tightening of the bronchial tubes. You might notice:
    • A tight feeling in your chest
    • Wheezing
    • Shortness of breath when you exert yourself
    • Mild fatigue
    I usually prescribe an albuterol inhaler (Proventil, Ventolin, generic versions) to use on an as-needed basis. Adults can take up to two puffs every 4 hours as needed. If this does not control the cough, sometimes an inhaler that contains corticosteroid can be added. Rarely, a person might need 7 to 10 days of oral corticosteroid (prednisone or methyl prednisolone).

    There are other possible reasons for a persistent cough, such as postnasal drip. Also, it's possible that you had a cold and now allergies are responsible for the inflamed airways and coughing.

    Although the cough after bronchitis can last for 3 months, contact your doctor if the cough is not getting better after another couple weeks. Depending on the circumstances, I often order a chest x-ray when a person has a cough for more than 6 weeks.
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    If you have a cold or flu, here are some tips for when to call a doctor about breathing problems:
    • Unusually fast or shallow breathing
    • Distress with breathing
    • Skin between the ribs or below the throat pulling in with each breath
    • Bluish color in the lips or fingernails
  • 1 Answer
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Dr. Robin Miller - placebo and coughing

    You don't need a real cough medicine to stifle a cough. To learn about a study in which a placebo did a great job of heading off hacking, watch this video featuring integrative medicine specialist Dr. Robin Miller.