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.
1 AnswerDr. Michael Roizen, MD , Internal Medicine, answeredIf 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 AnswersHealthyWomen answeredChildren 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.
4 AnswersTo 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.
1 AnswerDr. Robin Miller, MD , Internal Medicine, answered
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.
2 AnswersTypical cold symptoms in children include a runny nose, sneezing, cough, mild fever and loss of appetitie. Symptoms that last more than a week could indicate an allergy, however, and wheezing with a cold could be a sign of asthma.
You should call your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms, which could indicate a complication:
- a high fever that lasts for a day or longer
- an inability to keep food or liquids down
- shortness of breath
- chest or stomach pain
- extremely swollen glands
4 AnswersThe symptoms of a cold include a runny nose and congestion, along with a sore or scratchy throat, sneezing and coughing. You may also experience a headache, tiredness and a diminished sense of taste and smell. Most adults don’t develop a fever, but many children do. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or last longer than 10 days.
2 AnswersA cold can make your eyes red and congested. Be careful not to touch or rub them, and wash your hands often so you don't spread the virus. Use a cool or warm compress as needed for relief. Other causes of red, congested eyes include allergies and conjunctivitis, or "pink eye." Conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. See your doctor if the redness and congestion don't clear up after a day or two, you develop a yellow or green discharge, or you have sudden pain or changes in your eyesight.
2 AnswersImpetigo. 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.
1 AnswerDr. Howard E. Lewine, MD , Hospitalist, answeredA 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
- Shortness of breath when you exert yourself
- Mild fatigue
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.
Find out more about this book:Harvard Medical School Viruses and Infectious Diseases: Protecting yourself from the invisible enemy