September 2011

Stay Healthy by Combating Colds

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) estimates that in one year, Americans suffer one billion colds. And while the common cold may last a day or two, it can also linger for two weeks, interrupting your every day routine. Fortunately, government organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer useful information for avoiding and treating colds and all their bothersome symptoms.
 
The CDC notes that over 200 viruses can be responsible for a cold, and the NLM points out that cold virus germs are spread by physical contact, as well as inhalation. Therefore, good hygiene is key to prevention; wash your hands frequently, and avoid close contact with those suffering from colds or other upper respiratory infections. Visit www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/ for proper hand washing techniques, proper use of hand sanitizers and links to lots of related information.
 
If congestion, a sore throat and body aches are interrupting your daily life, you should pay your doctor a visit. Don’t be surprised, however, if you leave without a prescription; the CDC explains that because the common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics are ineffective and can actually be harmful if taken when not needed. Doctors can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms of a cold, so talk to your provider about options for coughing, congestion or headache relief.
 
There are many home remedies for combating cold symptoms. The NIH and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommend getting plenty of rest, gargling with warm salt water, using throat anesthetic sprays and drinking lots of fluids.
 
The common cold tends to go away on its own, but the CDC advises the attention of a healthcare provider if you have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or your symptoms have lasted for more than 10 days.
 
For more information, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/commoncold.html, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/colds.html. If you have children heading back to school this fall, brushing up on cold prevention and relief tips can especially come in handy.