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Cold and Flu Help

It's that time of the year... everyone you talk to is either sick, or knows someone who is sick. In my household, all five members have been ill to some degree in the past 2 weeks.

Here are some of my personal cold/flu tips:

Cold/Flu PREVENTION Tips:

(*Please note: if you have small children in public school, it is virtually impossible to prevent getting ill during cold/flu season.)

1. Get the flu shot. You may still get a milder case of the flu, or a completely different virus. 2. Wash your hands. Wash before you eat, after you blow your nose, after handling your pet(or some children!), etc. 3. Stay healthy, eat properly, and even take a daily multi-vitamin. I personally take an extra daily dose of vitamin C during cold/flu season. Vitamin C with give your immune system a boost to help fight off the virus. 4. Avoid sick people if possible.

Non-medical treatments:

1. Take vitamin C. If you haven't been taking this supplements before getting ill, take it now. There is some debate as to how effective it is, but it will do no harm if it has no effect. 2. Drink plenty of fluids. Especially clear fluids. 3. A cool mist vaporizer is good for a cough. 4. At night to help your breathe, try Breathe Right nasal strips. These can be quite effective. See http://www.breatheright.com for more info! 5. For sinus relief add 2 drops of tea tree oil to 2 cups of boiling water and mix in a large bowl. Carefully drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam. 6. Chicken soup... seriously! The soothing warmth and steam is helpful in clearing congestion, and the soup broth is said to have anti-inflammatory properties that help sooth a sore throat. 7. Saline nasal spray. 8. Pay the extra dollar and get tissues with lotion. Your nose with thank you! 9. Contact your doctor if your temperature is greater than 103' F, or if your fever lasts for more than 3 days.

Medical Treatments:

1. Anti-viral (prescription) medications: a) Relenza (zanamivir) - an anti-viral drug, for persons aged 7 years and older for the treatment of "uncomplicated" influenza virus. It is approved to treat type A and B influenza, the two types most responsible for flu epidemics. Clinical studies showed that for the drug to be effective, patients needed to start treatment within two days of the onset of symptoms. The drug seemed to be less effective in patients whose symptoms weren't severe or didn't include a fever. More information on Relenza can be found at http://www.fda.gov/cder/news/relenza/default.htm

b)Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) 'an oral anti-viral drug for the treatment of uncomplicated influenza in people one year and older whose flu symptoms have not lasted more than two days. Tamiflu is approved to treat both Type A and B influenza; however, most people included in the studies were ill with influenza type A, the most common. More information on Tamiflu can be found at http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/tamiflu/

c) Symmetrel (Amantadine) 'an older medication that is only effective against Influenza type A and can be used to prevent and treat the flu in children over 1 year old.

2. Over the counter or non-prescription medications: A large variety! It is recommended you consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications.

a)Over-the-counter cough suppressants offer temporary relief, but suppressing cough is not always a good idea since it is the body's way of clearing the bad stuff out.

b) Decongestants are alright for temporary relief of a stuffy nose, but should not be used for more than five days. (Consult a doctor before taking a decongestant containing pseudoephedrine if you have diabetes or heart, blood pressure, prostate or thyroid problems)

* See a doctor if you were exposed to strep or have any of these symptoms: high fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen neck glands, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or severe pain that doesn't improve in a few days.

About the author:
Betty Blackburn is a mother of 3 daughters and the webmaster of several websites


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