Flu

TREATING COLD AND FLU, AND THE SYMPTOMS OF



          The common cold and the “flu” are caused by any one of more than 100 virus strains. The flu vaccine is usually formulated to what strain(s) are felt to be prevalent at the time. Usually the head and upper respiratory systems are involved: i.e. the ears, sinuses, nose, throat, neck, and lungs can be affected.

            Colds are contagious, especially early in their course. Viruses are spread by respiratory droplet (coughing and sneezing) and by direct contact (hand-to-hand, hand-to-face, sharing utensils, glasses, etc.).

            Symptoms associated with colds and viruses can include runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, cough, low grade fever, ear pain, swollen glands, hoarseness, body aches, and fatigue. This is probably an incomplete list. Some of these symptoms are also experienced by people with allergies. You may experience sore throat and hoarse voice early in the course; as well as a feeling of chest tightness from tracheal involvement. Nasal secretions may at first be thin and watery, and then change to thick and mucopurulent (containing both mucous and pus). The cough may be hacky and dry.

            Antibiotics will not eradicate a virus because they work on bacterial infections, not viral infections. DO NOT ASK ME FOR AN ANITBIOTIC FOR YOUR COLD OR FLU. AND PLEASE, ALLOW ME TO BE THE JUDGE OF YOUR DIAGNOSIS.

            “Cold remedies” may be helpful, but medical professionals often differ on whether or not to dry up the secretions. These products usually contain decongestants and antihistamines. Remember that all medicines have side effects, and this includes anything you take; including vitamins and herbal supplements. Cold remedies can make you jittery or sleepy, depending on the product and how you respond to it.

            Sometimes, if caught early enough (12-72 hours depending on which source you read) antivirals will decrease the burden of the virus on you and your system. However, usually viruses will run their course no matter what you do. The healthier you are, the more likely you will be to either not get sick or to be able to fight it easier.

      Fever is often seen with viral infection; particularly in children. Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be given to children, but do not give aspirin products to kids less than 18 years of age. Remember that Tylenol is often included in many compound cold products. Fever has a physiologic purpose. Giving Tylenol may make you feel better but it won’t get rid of the infection.

TREATMENT

So the treatment for these conditions is to treat your body and the symptoms.

      1.  If you are coughing, is it worse when you lie down or first get up?  If so, it may be caused mostly by drainage from above. A decongestant may help.  Gargling with
warm salt water frequently does help. It rinses the area of mucous and soothes the membranes; it can help reduce the inflammation and tissue swelling.
  
    2. Do you have a sore throat? See above about cough. Teas with honey and lemon can help. Broths can help.

            3. Do you feel congested in the face, cheek and forhead area, or in the chest?  
      Massage the area, warm compresses to the areas increase blood circulation and
      stimulate the lympathic system to drain the congested areas.

       Use of a Netti Pot (obtained at a health food store) with saline solution (sea salt or Kosher salt) (1 teaspoon salt to 8 oz. warm water) to irrigate the nasal passages is quite helpful to rinse out mucous. It takes getting used to (using the Netti Pot) but you'll never go back to nasal sprays.
        
    4.  Do you have a headache, or feel achy all over? Take Tylenol or a NSAID.

      5.  Do you feel tired? Rest is the best treatment; as much as you can get.

      6.  Do you feel hot and cold? Take your temperature.

      7.  Drink lots of fluids; though nothing caffeinated.  When you think you've drank  
enough, drink some more.  If your lips feel dry or your skin hot and dry, then you
need to drink more.  Fever dehydrates you, and fluids help reverse that and can
bring down a fever.  At the very least they help to improve circulation and
lympathic drainage.
       8.  HYGIENE IS IMPORTANT!!!!!  Wash stuff, your hands, your clothes,   surfaces that you touch.  Open windows to air the house out.  Wipe down
surfaces like telephones, door knobs and light switches.  Don't cough and sneeze
(without covering your mouth) like you are the only one in the universe.  Be
considerate of those around you. These viral diseases are spread by respiratory droplet;
which means when you cough or sneeze in the air, or blow your nose/wipe your nose and then open the door or unload the dishwasher you have just spread the disease.
     9.  Nutrition is vitally important.  Make everything you put in your mouth count towards healing you. This is a good rule for everyone for everyday, sick or not.

                a. Extra supplements are controversial, depending on which researcher or    study you are reading.  But keep in mind that if a little is good, a lot is not necessarily
better and may indeed tax your system.  Vitamin C in food and/or as supplement at
500 mg. per dose every 4-6 hours may be helpful.

         10.  Using a cool mist vaporizer can increase air moisture and make it easier 
       to breath.

 

WHEN TO SEE THE DOCTOR

1.      When the fever lasts more than a few days, or stays over 101-102.

2.      There are white or yellow spots in the throat, tonsillar enlargement, or difficulty swallowing, breathing or speaking.

3.      The cough gets worse, becomes thick and colored, or lasts more than 8-10 days, or contains blood.

4.      A rash develops.

5.      Severe facial pain and purulent nasal drainage or bloody drainage develops.

6.      A stiff neck develops (one that causes severe pain with any attempt to bend or turn).

7.      You have other diseases that are compromised by a virus or respiratory infection.