Food for thought about how to live healthy!

Posts tagged ‘flu’

Cold vs. Flu: What’s the Difference?

It’s that time of year again. Kids go back to school, adults go back to work after summer vacation, one person you know starts coughing and sneezing and before you know it you’re in bed with a fever, congestion, and aches all over. But how do you tell if you’ve caught the common cold or the flu. Here’s what you need to know about both.

How They’re Alike:

Rhinovirus, also known as the common cold, and Influenza, nicknamed “the flu,” are both respiratory illnesses. Both are caused by a virus, however there are over 200 known strains of the common cold and only a handful of known flu strains. Common symptoms of both illnesses are fever, congestion, runny nose, fatigue and muscle aches. The severity of each symptom depends on a variety of factors, such of what strain of virus you have, the time of year and your current health. And the big similarity these two share is the biggest downer: there is no known cure or drug to kill either one.

How They’re Different:

The flu is typically more severe than a cold, but there are such things as a severe cold or a mild flu. Typically, a runny nose, sore or scratchy throat and watery eyes are tall tell signs of a cold. Fevers in colds also don’t tend to exceed 102 degrees. The flu also has distinctive symptoms. Nausea, body aches or chills, sweating, loss of appetite and a fever greater than 102 degrees are more often seen in flu cases. Colds also tend to develop gradually, with one symptom transitioning to the next. Cold symptoms, such as mucus-y coughing, can last weeks. Symptoms of the flu often come on fast and all at once. The flu also doesn’t last as long. Most symptoms are gone within a week. It’s never too late to get a flu shot. This year’s vaccines are about 80% effective at preventing the flu. But common colds are a part of life, and there is no reliable way to prevent them.

How They’re Treated:

As I mentioned earlier, there is no drug or treatment that can cure either virus. There are drugs to alleviate flu symptoms, such as Tami-Flu, but the only way to fight the virus is the down and dirty way: with your white blood cells. There are a lot of things you can do to help your body in the fight though. If you feel yourself getting sick, immediately taking zinc tablets has been shown to cut the duration and severity of the virus. Make sure you are constantly hydrating. Your body goes through a lot of water fighting the virus. Constantly sipping on water is one of the best things you can do for your body. Taking Vitamin C, either by a supplement or a fruit smoothie or otherwise, can give your immune system a little boost. Take a hot shower or bath to alleviate muscle aches. Take over the counter meds such as cough syrup and decongestants as you need them, but avoid drowsy medication during the day. Avoid exercise, smoking, drinking, dairy products, and unneeded stress. And the number one thing you can do is rest. If you have a fever over 102 degrees for more than 3 days, unrelenting chills, or you are too nauseous to keep down food, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away. If your fever exceeds 104 degrees, you should visit an emergency room.

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Man’s Best Friend? More Like Babies’ Best Friend!

What’s cuter than seeing a picture of a baby or a dog? Seeing a picture of a baby AND a dog! It turns out pairing babies with dogs doesn’t just make for good pictures. It’s also good for the baby’s health.

A study by Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital found that babies that were raised around dogs had a significantly lower rate of infection than babies not raised around dogs. The effect was similar is households with cats, but the decrease in infection rate was larger in households with dogs.

Some parents would shake their heads at the fact that some families would allow animals near babies, especially during the first few months of life. Coincidentally, these parents are the ones that scrubs the walls of their child’s room every week, force anyone holding the baby to bathe their hands in sanitizer yet refuse to give their child a flu shot even though this strain of flu is extremely high risk and 20 children have died from it…Americans!

Little do those parents know that sterilizing their child’s environment is detrimental to their baby’s health and that the parents that let their child and dog live under the same roof are doing their child a favor!

The Hygiene Hypothesis, a relatively new theory introduced during the 90’s era boom of super-duty cleaning products, states that children’s immune systems develop best when they are kept in a moderate germ environment. That’s not to say that every child should be bathed in a mud bath. Too many germs can overload a child’s immune system. However, too few germs can stifle the development of the immune system, leading to more frequent and more severe infections later.

Babies love chewing EVERYTHING they can find, including their own hands and feet, which turns out to be a good thing sometimes. The microbes and germs on the baby get sent to the babies stomach, where there is a pool of good bacteria and other flora. That good bacteria is able to modify itself so it can not only destroy the bad microbes but protect the rest of the body from those microbes in the future. It can also help prevent the body from attacking itself and lead to less allergies. Plus the stomach is a low-risk zone for infection. Almost all bacteria and viruses either get beaten down by the good intestinal bacteria or they get destroyed by stomach acid.

Dogs are perfect for keeping a moderate germ environment. Dogs that go outside bring back germs into the home. The child gets exposure to germs from outside, but is still kept in a relatively clean environment inside, as long as the parents keep a clean home around their baby. A few other tips if you have a dog at home: if your child is less than 3 months old, it’s probably best to not let the dog touch the child especially if your dog is a big dog.From 3 to 12 months old, you can lay the baby and dog down on the same carpet but try not to let your baby touch any of the dog’s chew toys and don’t let the dog lick the baby. The outside of a dog is not nearly as germy as the inside of a dog’s mouth.

Do you need a dog for your child to develop a healthy immune system? Absolutely not. But should you kick out your dog to keep your baby healthy? No way. Unless your child has asthma or is allergic to the dog, dogs can be great ways to keeping your child happy and healthy.

Flu Side Note: I’m so sick and tired of hearing about flu stories so I’m just going to post this short blurb. The best and most guaranteed way to protect your child from the flu is to get a flu shot. Children and the elderly are the most high-risk people, and this year’s strain of flu is BAD. The vaccine is shown to be 60-80% effective at preventing the flu. And last I checked, the rate of developing a mental disorder from the flu shot this year is somewhere around 0-0%. That 0% is also the same percentage of kids who received the flu shot and later died from the flu. All flu deaths in kids this year were in kids that had not been vaccinated. I’m not trying to scare you into getting a flu shot for your child, but there really is zero risk in getting one and it is the best protection against the flu.