Is it a cold, or is it the flu? And what can you do to prevent either?
New York otolaryngologist Dr. Sezelle Gereau Haddon MD, Continuum Center for Health and Healing, offers answers to frequently asked questions about cold and flu.
1. When do cold symptoms typically occur for kids and adults? Is there a difference between the two groups?
Cold symptoms usually occur within 2 or 3 days after you came in contact with the virus, although it could take up to a week. You are contagious for this same period of time. There is no difference between kids and adults.
2. Is there a reason why women are more likely to catch a cold than men?
Women, especially those 20 to 30 years old, have more colds than men, possibly because of their closer contact with children. Many things cause you to be more prone to upper respiratory illness, including stress, fatigue and allergies. Being female in and of itself does not predispose you to it.
3. Would you recommend Zinc for kids? If so, how would a kid take it? (Lozenge? Zicam?) How much should kids take? Also, how does zinc help the cold and flu? Does it decrease the duration or symptoms?
Zicam should not be used in the nose, as it causes a loss of sense of smell. Dosages as published by the Mayo Clinic are: "For the common cold, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 10 milligrams of zinc lozenges 5-6 times daily, based on age; one-half of a zinc lozenge (23 milligrams) (Truett Laboratories, TX), for children under 27 kilograms, every two hours, not to exceed six daily; and zinc gluconate glycine lozenges (Cold-EEZE®) four times daily for the duration of the cold"
4. What are some of the best ways to fight off a cold before it gets to you?
Many things can be done to prevent full development of cold symptoms, but they have to be instituted early on. These include rest, stress reduction, increased fluid intake and certain supplements. We are not sure why all of them work, but they support normal function of the immune system in various ways.
5. There is an old wives' tale that says to 'feed a fever and starve a cold' but research has shown that's probably not true. Instead, what can parents do to help their kids feel better when they have the cold or flu? Studies show that chicken soup helps. Why? How much rest and fluids do children need and why do these things seem to help?
Chicken soup has both anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. Fluids prevent dehydration, so help one feel better. Saline sprays are helpful with moving nasal secretions and with facilitating breathing. Products with Elderberry and Astragalus are made in formulations for children, and can be soothing and help the immune system as well. Rest helps the body recharge, and lessening stress can be beneficial for the innate immune system.
6. How do viruses typically enter the body? Is there a way to prevent it entering these passages?
Yes, viruses enter the body through the nose, or mouth. A daily nasal wash can be useful to prevent development of these illnesses, or actually used for treatment once they develop.
7. Do hand sanitizers work?
Hand sanitizers are wonderful ways to keep from spreading and contracting viral illnesses, and can be used to prevent getting sick, particularly with those in close quarters. They should not be used to replace handwashing.
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