Sunday, December 11, 2005

Keep your feet warm this winter

Cold feet are a real problem this time of year , so you do need to take care and keep them warm. Have a look at some recent articles and see for your self. Happy reading Best wishes of this holiday season.
Cold: “A viral infection characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the upper respiratory passages and usually accompanied by malaise, fever, chills, coughing, and sneezing. In this sense, also called common cold, coryza.”

Influenza: “An acute contagious viral infection characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract and by fever, chills, muscular pain, and prostration.”
Gastroenteritis (aka: Stomach Flu, 24-hour flu, intestinal flu, food poisoning): “Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines”  characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Although sometimes called “flu,” gastroenteritis is not caused by influenza viruses; it can be caused by various other viruses or by bacteria. Gastroenteritis is a totally different condition from “the flu” (influenza), “flu shots” do not protect you from gastroenteritis, and the discussion herein does not apply to gastroenteritis, only to flu caused by influenza viruses.
From the American Heritage Dictionary.

The best way to beat colds and flu’s are to avoid them to begin with. This is not as difficult to do as one might think. We begin our discussion with preventing these bugs, but if you should be unlucky enough to be reading this while sick, do not despair for we will give you some good advice on combating it too.
A note regarding anthrax and SARS – The initial symptoms of anthrax, SARS and smallpox often mimic symptoms of colds and flu’s. While SARS and anthrax outbreaks make headlines, the flu kills significantly more people than all these other diseases combined. Not because the flu is more deadly (it isn't), but because it infects far more people worldwide, because we neglect its proper treatment, and because we don't respect it as a serious, communicable disease. One thing we learned from the anthrax attacks in the winter of 2001-2002 is that a runny nose is a rare feature of anthrax. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC): "A person who has a runny nose along with other common influenza-like symptoms is by far more likely to have the common cold than to have anthrax." So maybe you can take some comfort in your runny nose!

Avoiding Colds and Flu’s

To avoid colds and flu’s you must understand your enemy and know its weaknesses, and how to avoid its attacks. The other line of defense is to maintain a strong immune system and not do anything to undermine it.
Colds and flu’s are caused by viruses. They tend to enter our bodies through our noses and eyes, although the flu may also enter through the mouth as well. Usually we infect ourselves by placing our own virus contaminated hands to our faces (such as by rubbing our eyes or noses). Less frequently, we can catch them from airborne sources. We will discuss how to best avoid both sources.
Infectious disease is currently one of the top five causes of death in the United States. 80% of all infectious disease could be eliminated by more frequent and proper washing of the hands with soap and water. This is also the first line of defense against colds and flu’s. The first rule to avoiding infection is: Never put your hands in your eyes or to your nose without washing them first. The eyes are especially important as we often rub our eyes, or flick out the “sand” from our tear ducts, without thinking about it. This nearly automatic response can get us into real trouble. A good way of avoiding this is to wash the “goop” out of our eyes each time we wash our hands. Out of consideration for others, you should also wash your hands immediately after putting them in your eyes or up to your nose. If everyone did both of these things, colds and flu’s would be uncommon in our society.
Regarding hand washing: Soap kills some of the germs on your hands directly, and helps to loosen those it doesn’t kill outright so they are more effectively washed off your skin. You should lather up your hands well for at least 20 seconds, then rinse-off the soap thoroughly for another 20 seconds. Be sure to include the areas under you nails when you wash your hands, as they are a lurking ground for germs. Drying your hands, studies have shown, is also an important step in removing germs. At home, it is a good idea to have a separate hand towel, which is changed frequently, for someone who is sick. In public restrooms, using a paper towel instead of a hand dryer, where available, is more effective. Also, in public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn off water faucets and open restroom doors after washing (to keep from reinfecting your hands, or picking up new germs).
As regards the airborne risks: you should make a habit of keeping your nasal passages clear and of breathing through your nostrils. Your nose is designed to filter out airborne dust and germs.

CARDIFF, Wales, Nov. 14 - Mom was right, say British researchers. Getting a chill can bring on a cold. So bundle up and keep your feet warm and dry.
Infectious disease specialists may ridicule the hoary concept that cold wet feet can trigger the symptoms of a common cold. Viruses cause these infections, not wet feet, they argue. But a team headed by Ronald Eccles, Ph.D., D.Sc., of Cardiff University here is recommending a new look.
Dr. Eccles said the results of a randomized study bear out a two-pronged hypothesis: that many of us carry around a subclinical cold infection and that chilling the feet opens the door for it to become a full-blown cold.
A hundred years ago, doctors would have said that a chill clearly leads to infection, he said. People then would have been both more exposed to the elements when they were outside and less likely to have a nice, centrally heated home in which to take shelter, he said. "We're better protected now," Dr. Eccles said, so we may not see the chill-cold connection as clearly.
But when he and a colleague deliberately chilled subjects -- by dipping their feet in ice water -- they found that those who got their feet cold and wet were significantly more likely to develop symptoms of a cold over the next four or five days than were those who just put their feet in an empty bowl.
The researchers randomized 180 healthy participants to 20 minutes of water at 10 degrees C or an empty bowl. In the current issue of the journal Family Practice, they reported:
There was no difference in acute cold symptoms immediately after the experiment.
After a few days, 13 of the 90 participants who were chilled reported they were suffering from the symptoms of a cold, compared with five of the 90 controls. The result was statistically significant at p = 0.047.
The 18 participants who came down with symptoms of a cold also reported that they were more likely to suffer colds during the year than did the 162 who remained healthy. The result was statistically significant at p = 0.007.
"When colds are circulating in the community, for every person you see who is symptomatic, there are two or three who have a sub-clinical infection," Dr. Eccles said. "It's those people who are prone to developing a common cold when they are chilled -- they've already got the virus, but the chilling is actually reducing their respiratory defense."
It's well known, he said, that chilling the feet causes vasoconstriction in the nose. That has two common cold-producing effects, he says. It reduces number of immune cells available in the nasal epithelium and slows down mucociliary clearance, allowing infectious agents more time to do their dirty work.
The finding may vindicate moms everywhere, but it flies in the face of research dating back nearly 40 years that appeared to rule out the chill/cold connection.
In those studies, researchers chilled subjects and then challenged some of them with a cold-causing virus. The result: controls and chill victims came down with colds at about the same rate.
But, says Dr. Eccles, those studies had two main flaws -- they were small and they didn't reflect the real-world situation, where a horde of viruses circulates, sometimes causing disease and sometimes not.
Dr. Eccles pointed out that this study does not address infection with a virus but only the development of symptoms after exposure. "The results of the present study demonstrate that chilling is associated with the onset of common cold symptoms but the study does not provide any objective evidence, such as virology, that the subjects were infected with a common cold virus."
The next step for his research, he said, would be to couple the chilling study with tests to see which viruses are actually causing the illness in those who come down with a cold.
That may not be easy: "When you're dealing with (wild-type) colds, you never know which virus you're dealing with and it's fairly difficult to isolate and identify the viruses," he said. But technology is improving, he added, so that work may soon be possible.
He'd also like to see what happens in more extreme situations: "Dipping your feet in cold water for 20 minutes is not really a severe chilling," Dr. Eccles said.

Primary source: Family PracticeSource reference: Johnson C and cold symptoms. Fam. Pract. 2005; 23.

Colds and the FluFact or Fiction: Cold Weather Can Cause A Cold Or Flu. - By Janet Collins “Although colds and flu are more common in the winter months, this has less to do with the weather than with being indoors. Viruses spread much more quickly in heated indoor areas where air doesn’t circulate well, and direct contact with germs is more likely” You feel miserable. Your nose is running, and your throat is sore. A mild ache and fatigue starts to set in. Oh woe, you think, the first cold of the season. Or is it the flu? It’s sometimes hard to tell one ailment from the other, but the runny nose and sore throat are where the similarities end. Add a bit of sneezing, and you’ve got yourself a cold. Trade the sneezing for a headache or fever, and chances are it’s the flu. Colds and influenza are caused by different types of viruses, so the symptoms are generally very different. The common cold is, well, very common. It is estimated that more than 200 different types of viruses can cause a cold. Rhinoviruses (nose viruses) are the most common cause, so cold symptoms tend to centre on the nose. Sneezing, nose-blowing and nose-wiping are the means by which the virus spreads. You can catch a sneeze if you’re sitting close to the sneezer, or by touching your nose, eyes or mouth after you’ve touched something contaminated by infected nasal secretions. That’s why colds spread so quickly during the colder months, when more indoor living keeps us in closer proximity to other people’s cold viruses. A cold will usually run its course within seven days, although a cough may persist for another few days. If symptoms last longer, a sinus infection or allergies may be the problem. Unlike a cold, the flu will have you feeling sick all over. Influenza (the flu) is caused by a single family of viruses, the influenza viruses. Classically, the flu begins abruptly, with a fever in the 102 to 104 degree range. An all over ache is very common. Some people also have dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last up to five days. After a couple of days, these symptoms begin to subside and the virus settles somewhere in the respiratory tract where it produces symptoms of a cold, sore throat, bronchitis, or ear infection. A dry, hacking cough is very common. These symptoms usually last up to seven days, although the cough and a feeling of fatigue can persist for a week or more after the other symptoms have disappeared. Inhaling droplets from coughs or sneezes is the most common way to catch the flu. The virus is airborne and quite contagious, and usually arrives in the winter months when people tend to be indoors more often. The major difference between the common cold and the flu is that the flu is preventable. There is strong evidence that people who get a flu shot each year are better protected against influenza than those who don’t get the shot. Children and the elderly can especially benefit from vaccination as the flu tends to be more serious for them. Teachers, health care workers and others likely to be exposed to the flu virus should also be vaccinated, as should those around people at high risk for complications if they were to get sick (e.g., if a relative were on chemotherapy). Anyone with an anaphylactic (shock-like) allergy to eggs or who has had a shock-like reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or who is concerned about a possible allergic reaction to the vaccine ingredients should talk to their doctor before getting the shot. The Lowdown on Colds and Flu Myth: It’s dangerous to exercise when you have the symptoms of a cold or flu. Fact: Provided you’re not running a fever, some mild exercise (such as a brisk walk) will help your antibodies fight the virus. Myth: Wet feet, wet hair, and exposure to cold weather and drafts can cause colds. Fact: Although getting chilled can lower your resistance if you’re already run down, you can only catch a cold or flu if you come in contact with a cold or flu virus. Myth: A low-grade fever should be treated with ASA or acetaminophen. Fact: A mild fever is the body’s way of fighting off viruses. In addition, a low-grade fever helps get antibodies circulating throughout your body. Using ASA, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be appropriate for higher fevers or relieving aches. Talk to your Live Well Pharmacist for more information. Myth: Influenza (the flu) is not a serious illness. Fact: Each year in Canada, about 6,000 people die from influenza. The flu is highly contagious. Myth: If you have never had influenza, you don’t need to be immunized. Fact: No one is totally immune from influenza viruses. Anyone can get sick with influenza many times over the course of their life. You can be infectious before you get sick yourself, and can give the flu to others without knowing it. Myth : The influenza vaccine gives people influenza. Fact: The vaccine will not give you influenza. The vaccine contains inactivated or killed influenza viruses that can not cause influenza infection. Some people may experience mild side effects, but this is not the flu. Myth : Getting a flu shot every year weakens your immune system. Fact: The vaccine actually prepares and boosts your immune system to help you fight the virus. Is it a Cold or Flu?
Usual high fever(102F/39C – 104F/40C) Sudden onset Lasts 3-4 days
Usual, can be severe
General aches
Sometimes, mild
Usual, often severe
Fatigue and weakness
Sometimes, mild
Usual, severe May last 2-3 weeks or more
Extreme fatigue
Usual early onsetCan be severe
Runny, stuffy nose
Sore throat
Chest discomfort, coughing
Sometimes Mild to moderate
Unusual Can be severe
Can lead to sinus congestion or earache
Can lead to pneumonia or worsen a current chronic condition
Frequent hand washing
Annual vaccination and frequent hand washing
Medication Treatment
No drugs approved to cure a cold
New prescription medications available that can shorten the duration and severity of the flu. Only effective if started with 72 hours of the onset of symptoms Treating flu without side effects - by Don Kyte, pharmacist, Pharmasave Dartmouth, N.S. As a pharmacist, one of the most common questions I hear from my clients is "How can I treat flu without the side effects from the typical medications?" I am familiar with the usual products for flu, but this "usual" advice is not what I offer. Viruses don't respond to anti-biotics and current antiviral drugs are extremely expensive and prone to side effects. So when the flu season hits, I recommend homeopathic medicines. My most successful recommendation for treating flu and flu like symptoms is the homeopathic medicine called Oscillococcinum or Oscillo, for short. I chose this particular medicine because it has been clinically studied, is extremely effective, has no side effects such as drowsiness or hyperactivity and is safe for adults and children alike. Additionally, Oscillo will not interfere with other medications. First, learn to recognize the symptoms of flu. These include chills, aches and pains, sore joints and possible headache. Then take Oscillo as soon as possible. It can also be used as a preventive, so if you're working beside a runny-nosed co-worker, you'll be protected. Come in and talk with your Pharmasave pharmacist for additional information on how to use Oscillo and stay healthy this flu season. Sources: Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Lung Health’s Digest

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