Category Archives: cold symptoms

Frequently asked questions about colds and the flu – Harvard

Since we are in/entering cold/flu season, I thought this was some timely information from Harvard HealthBeat. I hope you make it through the entire season without needing any of the tips.

 

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Here are the answers to six commonly asked questions about colds and the flu.

Q. When should I stay home from work or keep my child home from school?

A. Use your judgment to determine when you are feeling too sick to go to work or when your child is feeling too sick to go to school. It is important to stay home when you are most contagious. For colds, you are contagious the entire time you have symptoms, but you are most contagious right after you contract the viral infection, before you even have symptoms. For the flu, adults are most infectious from the day before symptoms start until about the fifth day of symptoms.

Q. When should I see my doctor?

A. If you experience any of the common flu symptoms or if your symptoms do not go away as quickly as you would expect, see your doctor.

Q. How can I avoid passing my cold or flu on to my family?

A. There are many steps you can take to try to avoid spreading germs to the people around you. Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, either with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Throw used tissues away immediately, ideally into a toilet where they can be flushed away without anyone else touching them. Wash your hands often, especially after you sneeze, cough, or touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your distance from others—don’t kiss, hug, or stand so close to someone that saliva might get on them when you talk. Make sure someone is disinfecting household surfaces and items frequently, including children’s toys.

Q. Why do colds and the flu increase in the winter?

A. Cold weather itself does not cause colds, but people are more likely to stay indoors and spread cold germs to one another when it’s cold outside. There is emerging evidence that influenza spreads most efficiently at low temperatures and in low humidity, which may explain why cases of the flu increase so much in the winter.

Q. Is there any truth to the old saying “Feed a cold; starve a fever”?

A. No. When you have a cold or the flu, you should be sure to eat healthful foods and drink plenty of fluids, but there is no need to eat more or less than usual.

Q. Is it okay to get a flu shot when I have a cold?

A. Yes, you can get vaccinated when you have a cold as long as you are not feeling very sick and do not have a fever.

To learn more about colds, flus and related illnesses as well as the best ways to prevent them, you can order the Harvard Medical School Guide: Cold and Flu.

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I battle a head cold …

SPOILER ALERT! I lose.

I flew back from Las Vegas about two weeks ago. As a Chicagoan, that means I had about a four hour flight. Because of the atmospheric change between Chicago and Las Vegas, ie., the increase in humidity and the fact that Las Vegas is about a half mile above sea level, I usually ease into my bike riding exercise upon return. So, the first day back I rode 10 miles and the second 15. During the rides and afterwards, I was vaguely aware of a tickle in my throat and my nose got kind of sniffle-y. I didn’t pay much attention to it. So, the first round went to the cold. I should have started eating 500 MG Vitamin C tablets at the first sign. You can blast a cold out of your system if you catch it early enough.  I foolishly attributed the sniffles and sore throat to jet lag, etc. I was wrong.

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By the fourth day, I was coughing, sneezing and my throat was killing me. I had a hard time sleeping. The cold flourished like this for several days. Continue reading

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Feed a cold, starve a fever? Not so fast, according to Salk research

An apple a day keeps the doctor away is one of those cliches we have heard all our lives. So is, feed a cold, starve a fever.

The last time you had a stomach bug, you probably didn’t feel much like eating. This loss of appetite is part of your body’s normal response to an illness but is not well understood. Sometimes eating less during illness promotes a faster recovery, but other times—such as when cancer patients experience wasting—the loss of appetite can be deadly.

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Now, research from the Salk Institute shows how bacteria block the appetite loss response in their host to both make the host healthier and also promote the bacteria’s transmission to other hosts. This surprising discovery, published in the journal Cell on January 26, 2017, reveals a link between appetite and infection and could have implications in treating infectious diseases, infection transmission and appetite loss associated with illness, aging, inflammation or medical interventions (like chemotherapy).

“It’s long been known that infections cause loss of appetite but the function of that, if any, is only beginning to be understood,” says Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at Salk Institute’s Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis.

A Salk Institute study shows how Salmonella blocks the appetite loss response in hosts to both make the host healthier and promote the bacteria’s survival and transmission

Mice orally infected with the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium typically experience appetite loss and eventually become much sicker as the bacteria become more virulent—spreading from the intestines to other tissues in the body. Ayres’ team tested different conditions in the infected mice and found that sick mice that consumed extra calories despite their appetite loss actually survived longer. It turns out this survival wasn’t due to a more active immune response by well-fed animals (as measured by levels of the bacteria in the host). Instead, it was because the Salmonella weren’t spreading outside of the intestines and throughout the body when the mice ate more, which enabled the animals to stay healthy despite infection. Even more surprising, the Salmonella were acting on the intestine to try to suppress the appetite loss in the host.

The finding was initially puzzling: why would the bacteria become less virulent and not spread to other areas in the body when nutrients were more plentiful? And why would Salmonella actively promote this condition? It turns out the bacteria were making a tradeoff between virulence, which is the ability of a microbe to cause disease within one host, and transmission, which is its ability to spread and establish infections between multiple hosts.

“What we found was that appetite loss makes the Salmonella more virulent, perhaps because it needs to go beyond the intestines to find nutrients for itself. This increased virulence kills its host too fast, which compromises the bacteria’s ability to spread to new hosts,” explains Sheila Rao, a Salk research associate and the first author on the study. “The tradeoff between transmission and virulence has not been appreciated before—it was previously thought that virulence and transmission were coupled.”

When the host ate more and survived longer during infection, the Salmonella benefitted: bacteria in those mice were able to spread via feces to other animals and increase its transmission between hosts, as compared to bacteria in mice who didn’t eat and died sooner due to heightened bacterial virulence.

The researchers discovered that, to halt the appetite-loss response and boost transmission between hosts, Salmonella produces a molecule called SlrP, which blocks activation of an immune protein (cytokine) in the intestines. This cytokine typically communicates with the brain’s appetite center, called the hypothalamus, to prompt the host to lose its appetite during infection. The team found that mice infected with Salmonella that couldn’t make SlrP ate less food while infected, lost more weight and died faster than control mice.

Though the same gut-brain pathway tied to appetite loss exists in the human as in mice, Ayres cautions that infection responses are dependent on many factors and that whether eating—or fasting—during illness can improve one’s health will depend in large part on what the causative agent of the infection is. Her team is planning to search the human microbiome (the collection of bacteria that live in people’s bodies) to find other microbes that might have a similar effect on this pathway and explore those for new therapies tied to appetite loss and treating disease. The lab also wants to investigate whether drugs could be used to turn up or down the sickness-induced appetite-loss pathway that SlrP targets.

“Now that we’d identified this mechanism that regulates appetite, we want to turn it on the flip side and see if we can decrease appetite via this mechanism to help in cases of metabolic disease,” says Ayres.

The discovery also points to the tantalizing possibility of treating infectious diseases with approaches other than antibiotics, such as nutritional intervention. “Finding alternatives to antibiotics is incredibly important as these drugs have already encouraged the evolution of deadly antibiotic-resistant strains,” says Ayres. In the United States alone, two million people annually become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Tony

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Ayurveda and Colds: How to Avoid Them and What to Do When You Have One? — STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

I don’t understand Ayurvedic medicine nor all the terms in this post, but there are a lot of very useful suggestions here that we can use as we find ourselves fending off the attacks of winter in COLD SEASON.

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Our bodies are more susceptible to health problems when the seasons are changing because our body functions differently in each season. When it is hot outside, our agni (or digestive fire) automatically decreases. Thus during the summer months our digestive capacity is diminished. Once the outside temperatures begin to fall, our internal fires naturally start […]

via Ayurveda and Colds: How to Avoid Them and What to Do When You Have One? — STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

 

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CDC Reports Flu Hit Younger People Particularly Hard This Season

Vaccination lowered risk of having to go to the doctor by about 60 percent for people of all ages

This influenza season was particularly hard on younger- and middle-age adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). People age 18-64 represented 61 percent of all hospitalizations from influenza—up from the previous three seasons when this age group represented only about 35 percent of all such hospitalizations. Influenza deaths followed the same pattern; more deaths than usual occurred in this younger age group.

A second report in this week’s MMWR showed that influenza vaccination offered substantial protection against the flu this season, reducing a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 60 percent across all ages.

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“Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The good news is that this season’s vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups.”

U.S. flu surveillance data suggests that flu activity is likely to continue for a number of weeks, especially in places where activity started later in the season. Some states that saw earlier increases in flu activity are now seeing decreases. Other states are still seeing high levels of flu activity or continued increases in activity.

While flu is responsible for serious illness and death every season, the people who are most affected can vary by season and by the predominant influenza virus. The currently circulating H1N1 virus emerged in 2009 to trigger a pandemic, which was notable for high rates of hospitalization and death in younger- and middle-aged people. While H1N1 viruses have continued to circulate since the pandemic, this is the first season since the pandemic they have been predominant in the U.S. Once again, the virus is causing severe illness in younger- and middle-aged people. Continue reading

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What are Some Good Things About Broccoli?

Ever since we were eating at our mom’s table we have been hearing that we should eat our broccoli. Here are some reasons why mom was right:

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Tony

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Tips on Fighting Off a Cold – Mayo Clinic

I have written repeatedly about the flu and protecting yourself from it this season. It is also worth mentioning that this is cold season as well. A lot of folks are suffering from the common cold.
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The Mayo Clinic has some worthwhile suggestions on fighting a cold virus if you succumb.

Dr. Robert Sheeler, Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter has the following to say about handling cold symptoms.

“Being sick with a cold virus for a week or two doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. These remedies may help:
• Fluids — Drink plenty of liquids. Water, juice, clear broth, or warm water with lemon juice and honey can help loosen congestion.
• Saltwater gargle — To relieve a sore or scratchy throat, gargle with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Continue reading

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What is the Difference Between Cold Symptoms and Flu Symptoms?

Regular readers know that I have really pushed about getting a flu shot this season. You can read more about How to Fight the Flu by clicking the link at the top of this page. Also, I went to the doctor on Tuesday of this week with cold symptoms that I wanted to check on.

So, I am pleased to tell you about an item in the weekend edition of USA Today on how to tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms.
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They based their item on The Doctors TV show. Here are the three ways to tell if you are suffering from a cold or flu.

“Flu comes with a fever. This may be your first (and perhaps more obvious) clue: The common cold rarely causes body temperature to rise. A high fever, however, is characteristic of the flu — it usually runs between 100 degrees and 102 degrees (or higher, especially in kids) and lasts three to four days. Headaches also more commonly occur with the flu, not as much with a cold. If your first signs are a runny nose, scratchy throat and sneezing, that’s most likely a cold. Those symptoms tend to develop more slowly, while the flu usually comes on suddenly.”
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