Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Blow or Not to Blow? Cold and Flu tips.

To blow or not to blow? When sick, it's best to blow your nose one nostril at a time. Otherwise, according to researchers at the University of Virginia, a great amount of pressure builds up and mucus is drawn back up into the sinuses. This may also bring bacteria and viruses up into the sinuses, worsening the infection.

How do you know when to keep a child home from school or daycare? If they have a fever or the child just doesn't feel well enough to participate in school activities, keep 'em home.

When is it wise for you to call in sick? lists several reasons to consider calling in because you're illin'.

• In the beginning. The start of a cold is when you are most contagious. When several symptoms start at once and you have that achy-stuffy nose-sore throat-headache kind of feeling, do everyone a favor and stay home. You may even shorten the course of the cold if you actually use that stay-at-home time to rest.
• Fever. You need to let the rise in body temperature battle the bugs. Again, rest, drink fluids, allow your body to fight off that flu.
• If you work in close contact with other people, especially kids or the elderly. Work from home, if you can and cash in on those paid sick days.
• When you are, as I call it, sick with the ick, productive cough, nausea, vomiting, chest or sinus congestion, pain on swallowing. Just...stay...home.

Prevention is key: wash hands...often, avoid people who are sick (not always possible), did I mention wash your hands? If you do get sick, remember to cough into your elbow! Coughing and sneezing into your hand just passes germs on to the next person who touches the doorknob, refrigerator, or computer keyboard.

One of my favorite "prescriptions" during cold and flu season is Onion and Garlic Soup. Onions and garlic have antimicrobial properties that can give your immune system a boost and help ward off viruses. When garlic is crushed it becomes 'active' and releases a compound that is similar to N-acetyl-cysteine, a mucolytic. The New York Times has a recipe for garlic broth. Add a couple of medium onions, cut in quarters (skin intact for an extra dose of quercetin), and cook along with the garlic, then don't strain the broth! Remove onion peels and insections, pour into a blender and mix the ingredients. Sip throughout the day.

Lemon/Ginger/Honey Tea eases sore throats and coughs. In a large mug, place a couple of thin slices of ginger and lemon (about 1/2 a small lemon), and add plenty of hot water. Sweeten with honey to taste (honey is antimicrobial!), shake in a dash or two of cayenne, stir, and sip.

Avoid sugar, dairy, wheat. Taking Probiotics (that friendly bacteria that lives in yogurt, and our gut) is a good immune booster. I suggest a supplement to my patients as eating yogurt (or any other dairy) may contribute to congestion.

P.S. What better way to prevent catching or spreading the flu than to wash your hands with an adorable Giant Microbe!

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