Banish Colds and Flu This Season


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Americans suffer from one billion colds each year. That’s not counting the flu. So how can you keep from getting either one this season?

You know the drill: runny nose, sneezing, coughing … no one likes to get sick!

Here’s what you can do: first, wash your hands often. A good rule of thumb, wash up anytime you shake someone’s hand or touch an object. There are 15 hundred bacteria on each one square centimeter of skin. Use warm water and plain soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. Another tip, exercise. One study found women who walked for 12 months were the most resistant to colds in the final quarter of the year. Also, get the flu vaccine, but if you do end up with the flu, you might want to skip the anti-virals to treat it.

Larry Altshuler, MD, Internist at Southwestern Regional Medical Center says, “Studies have shown that the anti-virals are not really that effective.”

Try elderberry syrup instead. Some studies have suggested it might reduce swelling in the mucous membranes and shorten the duration of flu symptoms by about three days. Also, quit smoking. It raises your risk of developing infections by decreasing your body’s immune response and changing your respiratory tract. And lastly, clean your purse! Purses are breeding grounds for germs. Experts say put away your cloth handbag for the winter and use one that’s easy to wipe down, like leather. With ways to prevent sickness this season.

About 200 thousand Americans are hospitalized each year because of problems with the flu and nearly ten million dollars are spent on hospitalizations and outpatient doctor visits.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT #2503


BACKGROUND: The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus and infected to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.


RISK AND PREVENTION:  Some people are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. Some of these complications are pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections. The flu can also make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu. People at high risk for developing flu-related complications are children younger than 5, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are three main action steps to take to help prevent getting the flu. They recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, if you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter. Many doctors say antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, but there are some that disagree.

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HOSPITALIZATION DUE TO FLU: New Canadian research has found that children who have been vaccinated against influenza are significantly less likely to end up in the hospital. Researchers from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) looked at 9,982 Ontario hospital records of children aged six months to just under five years old. They focused on four influenza seasons and grouped the children’s records according to those who were fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and those who didn’t get the vaccine. “Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn’t been a lot of research that has examined the magnitude of the influenza vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing kids from getting really sick and being hospitalized,” explained Dr. Jeff Kwong, the senior author of the research paper. Findings found fully vaccinated children aged two to four years old saw their risk of hospitalization due to influenza drop by 67 percent while those aged six to 23 months saw their risk drop by 48 percent. 


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