Random Health Fact:



Cold vs. Flu

It's that time of  year again, time to start thinking about getting your flu shot to hopefully prevent that achy, feverish feeling that takes over your body for a week or longer. While the flu shot is no guarantee that you will not get sick, it is a good preventative measure to take, so that just in case you get hit with the flu, it hopefully will be a much milder form. However, what if it is not the flu that you get, but a cold instead? How do you know if it is the cold or the flu that has you feeling so ill? What can you do to make yourself feel better if you get either one of these diseases, and what can you do to prevent or at least lower your chances of getting sick?

You might ask why does it matter what I have; well because although both are caused by a virus, it can be important to identify if you are sick with a simple cold or the flu, since there are treatments for the flu. Most importantly ANTIBIOTICS WILL NOT HELP VIRUSES, so do not bother taking them as they can kill good bacteria in your gut, give you a yeast infection, or make you resistant to the antibiotic in the future. Also, taking antibiotics at the wrong time lowers your immune system's natural response, and can cause you to heal slower.

Flu Facts and symptoms :

Flu Season is generally November-March and the best time to get the vaccine is in October or November.

If you have just begun having symptoms, you might ask your doctor about antiviral flu medications to help you get better faster and you might suggest that people who have been exposed to you start an antiviral flu medication so that they don't get sick too.

Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and include:

  • a high fever (102-104 degrees Fahrenheit), which may last 3-4 days
  • a bad headache
  • severe general body aches and pains
  • fatigue and weakness, which may last for 2-3 weeks
  • extreme exhaustion

Medications for the flu include:

Antiviral drugs are also available by prescription to treat the flu. In some cases, they can also be used to prevent infection. These drugs block the replication of the flu virus; preventing its spread. Antiviral medications include:

  • Tamiflu (oseltamivir) - for children 1 year and older
  • Flumadine (rimantadine) -- for children 1 year and older
  • Symmetrel (amantadine) -- for children 1 year and older
  • Relenza (zanamivir) - for children 7 years and older

Flu Prevention:

The two best ways to prevent the flu are by getting an annual flu shot, and by washing your hands properly and often.

  • The "flu shot" does not contain live virus. It is an inactivated vaccine that is given by injection.
  • It is approved for use in anyone older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • All children aged 6 to 23 months should get a flu shot because they are at high risk of complications.

During the 2003-2004 season, there were 152 flu-related deaths among children under 18. Most of these children were less than 5 years old, and the majority of them did not get the flu shot, according to the CDC.

FluMist is a newer nasal antiviral vaccine and contains weakened viruses. this does contain live flu virus, but because it has weakened strains, and weakened strains usually do not cause illness, however they can sometimes cause flu. Only healthy children aged 5 or older may receive the nasal-spray flu vaccine. Younger children may not get the FluMist vaccine as a precaution.

Information for Children:

Children getting a flu shot for the first time need two doses given a month apart. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by other viruses.

The American Lung Association offers an online flu vaccine clinic locator. Visit flucliniclocator.org, enter a zip code and a date (or dates) and receive information about clinics scheduled in your area.

If You or Your Child Does Get Sick:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Be sure that you follow the instructions and do not take multiple medications containing Ibuprofen, Pseudophedrin or Acetaminophen
  • The Daily Dosage Limits for adults are:
  • Acetaminophen : 4,000mg or 4g per 24 hrs.; Ibuprofen: 3,200mg or 3.2g per 24 hours; Pseudoephedrine: 120mg/day
  • Safe limits for children are: Acetaminophen: Varies based on weight call Doctor, Ibuprofen: Varies based on weight call Doctor, Pseudoephedrine: Varies based on weight call Doctor.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and reduce aches. Both are available in children's formulations.
  • Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Aspirin may increase risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare disorder that occurs almost exclusively in children under the age of 15 and can cause severe liver and brain damage.
  • In very young children with congestion, use a nasal bulb to gently remove mucus. You may also spray three drops of saline nasal spray into each nostril.
  • Be sure to go to the pharmacist and request the formula with Pseudoephedrine, as the other formulations rarely help with congestion of nasal passages. Remember there are now restrictions on how much you can buy at one time, so be sure the pharmacist ONLY counts the ACTUAL AMOUNT OF Pseudoephedrine in the product as opposed to the non-Pseudoephedrine based ingredients. If they give you trouble refer to the law which can be found at: http://www.ctpharmacists.org/files/public/MethSummary.pdf

Colds

Colds are minor infections that can be caused by one of over 300 types of viruses. Rhinoviruses are the most common. Colds typically last for one week, but may linger in children. Cold season runs from about September until March or April. Hand washing and keeping other sick people away from you or your children are about the best defense you can provide for yourself. Also if you are sick, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and wash your hands right after to prevent spreading it to someone else. Keep kids that display ANY symptoms of illness away from your child and their toys, even if it as mild as a clear runny nose, as this is often the first symptom of colds in children. Be sure to disinfect all bottles, pacifiers and toys that the child touched while ill with either a very dilute bleach solution mixed with water or one of the new disinfectants offered for children's toys that are sold in the grocery store. This will prevent any of the other family members from picking up the virus from these items as well as other children.

Symptoms:

Cold symptoms tend to come on much more slowly than flu symptoms. These symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Reduced sense of taste and smell
  • Scratchy throat
  • Cough

If You Do Get Sick:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of liquids (including tea, water, and juice).
  • Put a humidifier in you or your child's room to provide extra moisture, which helps reduce congestion.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and reduce aches. Both are available in children's and adult formulations. Be sure to go to the pharmacist and request the formula with Pseudoephedrine, as the other formulations rarely help with congestion of nasal passages. Remember there are now restrictions on how much you can buy at one time be sure the pharmacist ONLY counts the ACTUAL AMOUNT OF Pseudoephedrine in the product as opposed to the non-Pseudoephedrine based ingredients. If they give you trouble refer to the law which can be found at: http://www.ctpharmacists.org/files/public/MethSummary.pdf
  • Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Aspirin may increase risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare disorder that occurs almost exclusively in children under the age of 15 and can cause severe liver and brain damage.
  • In very young children with congestion, use a nasal bulb to gently remove mucus. You may also spray three drops of saline nasal spray into each nostril.
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