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Common Ailments

Flu And The Common Cold

The common cold and flu are common viral infections affecting mainly the nose and throat. Most of us know the symptoms of a cold - mild fever, teary eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, a mild sore throat and cough. The symptoms of flu are similar but more severe. You mar also feel bodyaches and have a poor appetite.

What To Do When You Have The Flu?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • DO not exercise if you have a cold or flu, or when you are recovering
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take medicine to relieve symptoms

The Common Medicines Used For The Common Cold Or Flu Are

  • Paracetamol or other medicines for fever
  • Antihistamines like cholorpheniramine (Piriton) to help dry up a runny nose
  • Cough medicines like Benedryl

An important point m note is that antihistamines and cough medicines may cause drowsiness. So don't drive or operate dangerous equipment if you are taking these medicines. Flu and colds are very infectious. The viruses causing flu and colds are spread through nose and throat secretions. You should be careful when you sneeze or blow your nose, especially in crowded places.

Keep good personal hygiene and don t share drinking glasses, towel, and handkerchiefs with other people. A number of common illnesses are treated at home by over-the-counter, non-prescription remedies. Some are serious enough to require professional medical attention. Even the common cold can become very serious if not treated correctly, as it can advance to other infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.

Any drugs or therapies should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist for professional medical advice. Even for simple illnesses, severe complications can result from seemingly innocuous remedies. Treatment of a child's fever with aspirin has been known to lead to Reye's syndrome. A doctor or pharmacist will be able to inform you about you specific needs and potential side-effects for any drug or therapy.

Feeling Cold? Wrap Up

Keeping warm can keep the cold away after all. In a study involving 160 volunteers, half of whom immersed their feet in ice and cold water for 20 minutes while the other half sat with their feet in empty bowls, almost a third of the chilled volunteers developed cold symptoms during the next four or five days.

Loss temperatures constrict blood vessels in the nose and shut off the warm blood that supplies the white cells to fight infection, say Claire Johnson and Professor Ron Eccles from Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre. "The reduced defences in the nose allow the virus to get stronger and common cold symptoms develop Although the chilled subject believes they have 'caught a cold', what has in fact happened, is that the dormant infection has taken hold." they say.

Give Flu The Brush-Off

Feel like your recovery from the nasty ol' flu is touch and go? Doctors recommend tossing your toothbrush for a new one three days after the onset of flu, to avoid daily re-infection by the virus lingering on wet bristles. Alternatively, regularly swirl your toothbrush in antiseptic mouthwash and let it dry out. While you're at it, don't forget to toss out those snotty Kleenexes in your bin, and to change and wash your bedding in warm soapy water.


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