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Colds vs. Flus

When you wake up sneezing, coughing, and have that achy, feverish, can’t move a muscle feeling, how do you know whether you have cold symptoms or the flu?

It’s important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.

What are common cold symptoms?

Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, which usually goes away after a day or two. Nasal symptoms, runny nose, and congestion follow, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

With cold symptoms, the nose teems with watery nasal secretions for the first few days. Later, these become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.

Several hundred different viruses may cause your cold symptoms.

How long do cold symptoms last?

Cold symptoms usually last for about a week. During the first three days that you have cold symptoms, you are contagious. This means you can pass the cold to others, so stay home and get some much-needed rest.

If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

Sometimes you may mistake cold symptoms for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. If cold symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed an allergy or sinusitis.

What are common flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Swine flu in particular is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.

Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it’s not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, particularly in the young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems. If you notice shortness of breath, let your doctor know. Another common sign of pneumonia is fever that comes back after having been gone for a day or two.

Just like cold viruses, flu viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, or mouth. Every time you touch your hand to one of these areas, you could be infecting yourself with a virus, which makes it very important to keep hands germ-free with frequent washing to prevent both flu and cold symptoms.

Is it flu or cold symptoms?

How do you know if you have flu or cold symptoms? Take your temperature, say many experts. Flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu. This table can help determine if you have cold or flu symptoms.

SymptomsColdFlu
FeverSometimes, usually mildUsual; higher (100-102 F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
HeadacheOccasionallyCommon
General Aches, PainsSlightUsual; often severe
Fatigue,  WeaknessSometimesUsual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme ExhaustionNeverUsual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy NoseCommonSometimes
SneezingUsualSometimes
Sore ThroatCommonSometimes
Chest Discomfort, CoughMild to moderate; hacking coughCommon; can become severe
ComplicationSinus congestion; middle ear infectionSinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening
PreventionWash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a coldWash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; get the annual flu vaccine
TreatmentDecongestants; pain reliever/fever reducer medicinesDecongestants, pain relievers, or fever reducers are available over the counter; over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to young children; prescription antiviral drugs for flu may be given in some cases; call your doctor for more information about treatment.

Usually, the time of year will give you some sense of what you’re dealing with. The standard flu season runs from fall to spring of the next year.

When do I call the doctor with flu or cold symptoms?

If you already have flu or cold symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor if you also have any of the following severe symptoms:

  • Persistent fever: A fever lasting more than three days can be a sign of another bacterial infection that should be treated.
  • Painful swallowing: Although a sore throat from a cold or flu can cause mild discomfort, severe pain could mean strep throat, which requires treatment by a doctor.
  • Persistent coughing: When a cough doesn’t go away after two or three weeks, it could be bronchitis, which may need an antibiotic. Postnasal drip or sinusitis can also result in a persistent cough. In addition, asthma is another cause of persistent coughing.
  • Persistent congestion and headaches: When colds and allergies cause congestion and blockage of sinus passages, they can lead to a sinus infection (sinusitis). If you have pain around the eyes and face with thick nasal discharge after a week, you may have a bacterial infection and possibly need an antibiotic. Most sinus infections, however, do not need an antibiotic.

In some cases, you may need to get emergency medical attention right away. In adults, signs of a crisis include:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent vomiting

In children, additional signs of an emergency are:

  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Lethargy and failure to interact normally
  • Extreme irritability or distress
  • Symptoms that were improving and then suddenly worsen
  • Fever with a rash

Can I prevent flu or cold symptoms?

The most important prevention measure for preventing colds and flu is frequent hand washing. Hand washing by rubbing the hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds helps to slough germs off the skin.

In addition to hand washing to prevent flu or cold symptoms, you can also get a flu vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza. Seasonal flu activity in the United States generally peaks between late December and early March. Within two weeks of getting a flu vaccine, antibodies develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Children receiving the vaccine for the first time need two doses delivered one month apart.

Antiviral medicine may also help prevent flu if you have been exposed to someone with flu symptoms.

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Are You Ready For The Next Influenza Epidemic? How Will You Survive The Next Pandemic?

In doing some research about influenza, I came across the great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919. This happened during World War I and affected everyone on both sides of the ocean as well as across the world. It affected soldiers as well as citizens. It is estimated that 50 million people died during this epidemic. That is compared to the 16 million people who died during World War I.

One of the things that was missing from this epidemic was antibiotics. They simply did not exist as a medicine during this time. Antibiotics in an usable form was discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. However, antibiotics are rarely used for any influenza viruses. We do have some medications now that will treat influenza.

It is unlikely though that antibiotics would have been effective anyway during the epidemic of 1918. The influenza epidemic came in two phases. The first phase was less severe and most people recovered from it. It came in back a few months later and killed people within hours to a few days. Most people died from the fever and fluid filling their lungs which suffocated them. The disease affected people ages 20-40 the most.

Doctors and scientists were at a loss at how to treat this influenza. They could not control or stop the disease. Remember, there was no Center for Disease Control at the time. That was not established until 1946.

Don’t remember learning this in history class? I didn’t remember learning it either. However, what can we take away from this?

1. It was not treatable. They believe the strain during this epidemic was the H1N1. Influenza strains can be mild or develop a variant that can make them deadly. Since very little was known about influenza then, it was almost impossible to treat. Today’s influenza strains are proving harder to treat. Flu shots do not cover all strains of influenza. A strain or a variant in the strain of influenza could be strong enough to not be treatable or controllable.

2. It affected strong, healthy adults the most. The age group that was affected the most was 20-40 years old. This is a group of people who are at the peak of life in terms of health and vitality. The problem with that is this is also the group of people who would be the most social group especially in 1918. Even today, people in that age range rarely stay home. The disease would be able to spread very quickly because people are constantly going. They go to work, kids’ activities, social gatherings, and college.

3. It was not controllable. This influenza strain spread very, very quickly. People were given poor advice on how to not catch the disease and how to treat the disease. We now have the Center for Disease Control who would hopefully be on top of the disease. We also now know the best way to treat the symptoms of influenza. We also know that we need rest and to stay home to keep influenza from other people.

Do you think this could happen again? Many people do. Are you ready for the next influenza epidemic? An influenza epidemic of the proportions that occurred in 1918 would be considered a pandemic now.  We hear threats of pandemics now that could happen. How would you survive the next pandemic? What do you need to do to get ready?

1. Get a sick room ready. You should have a room, preferably a bedroom, ready to be a sick room. You should have some medical supplies ready in that room like a thermometer, ibuprofen, hot water bottle, instant cold packs, face tissues, disinfectant spray cleaner, trash bags, face masks, and disposable gloves. You may also want a pandemic flu kit in that room for the people treating the sick.

2. Have white towels, wash cloths, and white bedding ready to use. You want linens you can wash in very hot water or even put in boiling water to disinfect. You can also use bleach on white linens without issues. You want to have extra linens so you can change the sick beds quickly and wash the infected bodies without worry.

3. Have rolls of heavy plastic to cover surfaces like the bed, the floor, the windows,and the doorways. You have to think about disease control going in and out of the house. You are trying just as hard to keep the disease out as well as keeping it controlled in your home.

4. Keep some chem suits on hand. You may want to completely cover up to deal with a sick patient or having to go into infected areas. A chem suit with boots and gloves would be the ideal solution. You will also want a face mask and eye protection to keep safe.

5. Have one person who would be dedicated to taking care of the sick. The less people exposed to the sick person, the better the chances for everyone to stay healthy. Having one person designated to taking of the sick will keep everyone healthier. Having a designated respite person for the caretaker would be a good idea too.

6. Have a plan in place for death. In a pandemic, death is inevitable. What will you do if someone dies? As morbid as it seems, you may want to have a body bag on hand. You also want to have a plan for disposal of the body. Where will it be buried? Will you bury the body? Those are your decisions alone, but having a plan will make those decisions easier.

7. Do not go anywhere if you don’t have to. During a pandemic, being a homebody is your best bet for not catching the disease. Having a good food storage, water storage, and a disinfected home will be wise.

No one wants to think about getting sick much less think about a lot of people getting sick. We like to think with all the technological and medical advances we have now, another influenza pandemic will not happen again. However, new strains of diseases are being developed all the time in nature and in labs. We can not be sure this will not happen again. In fact, it is likely to happen again.

What will you do to protect yourself during a pandemic? Do you think we could have another influenza pandemic?

 

http://www.livinglifeinruraliowa.com

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5 Natural Ways to Fight a Cold or the Flu

cold-and-flu

5 NATURAL WAYS TO FIGHT A COLD OR THE FLU

It is that time of year again, the beginning of cold and flu season. Yuck! Although many of us would love to stay inside and avoid all those nasty germs lurking about in public, it is not always feasible.
So, let’s look at a few ways to fight off and relieve the symptoms of a cold or the flu, Naturally:
1. Herbs:
One of the best herbs to stimulate immune supporting white blood cells, T cells, macrophage and interferon activity is Echinacea. This can be taken at the first signs of a cold and will help to ease the symptoms. Boneset is another herb that will help to stimulant the immune system and is one of the most effective herbs to fight a cold or the flu. It promotes sweating and helps your body to release toxins. Although you could steep it and drink as a tea it is best to take it in pill form if possible, as it can be quite bitter tasting. Yarrow leaf is another highly effective herb that helps to reduce fever and is also an antiseptic. It can be steeped and drank as a tea. Peppermint leaf has antiviral properties, promotes sweating to release toxins and is gentle enough to use on children. This is found in pill form or raw leaves for steeping and making a tea as well. Ginger root is a terrific herb that helps to warm chills and fight infection. It is known as the warming herb that helps to also alleviate stomach distress that is sometimes associated with a cold or the flu.
2. Vitamins:
When it comes to taking vitamins, there are two that are a must have. These include Vitamin C and Zinc. Taking 1000 mg three times a day will help to shorten the length of a cold. Zinc helps to stimulate T cell response and helps to prevent a cold virus from replicating. Note that it is not recommended to take more than 50 mg of Zinc daily.
3. Homeopathic Remedies:
Anas Barbariae also called Oscillococcinum, is a wonderful remedy used for onset symptoms of the flu. Some of these symptoms include ear pain, congestion, chills, frontal sinus pain and nasal discharge. It is recommended to take 3-4 pellets three times a day under the tongue.
4. Foods to Help:
If you find yourself fallen ill, many foods have beneficial affects. To break up congestion try chicken soup or miso vegetable soup with plenty of garlic and onion. Garlic and onions both have antimicrobial properties that will help fight infection. Another terrific antimicrobial item is cinnamon. Add cinnamon to applesauce, sweet potatoes, or tea. Foods that are rich in beta-carotene such as sweet potatoes, help to strengthen mucus membranes in the lungs. Other helpful antioxidant foods that help are carrots, cabbage, mustard greens, turnips and broccoli.  One always helpful favorite of mine, is hot tea with honey which helps to soothe a sore throat and helps to reduce coughing.
5. Essential Oils:

It is commonly known that essential oils have multiple health benefits. Using an essential oil diffuser can help prevent other family members from getting sick. Some of the best oils to use are juniper, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, and rosemary. A personal favorite and very effective essential oil for treating cold and flu symptoms is called thieves oil.  Thieves oil is generally a blend of Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus.  

Remember if you do come down with a cold or the flu, getting enough rest is vital. It is during this time that that your body heals itself. Also don’t forget to drink plenty of clear liquids to help flush out your system. Be sure to avoid caffeine and milk products as these can actually increase mucus production. This will only prolong your illness and make you feel worse.

Linked from: http://thetrailerparkhomesteader.blogspot.com/2016/10/5-natural-ways-to-fight-cold-or-flu.html
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It’s That Time of Year Again: Prepping for Cold and Flu Season

It’s That Time of Year Again: Prepping for Cold and Flu Season

nutrition

What could be more beneficial to you in the advent of the Common Cold/Flu  season than knowledge on how to treat and prevent them from occurring in the first place?  Except maybe some of JJ’s chicken soup (which is pretty darn good, by the way….I make it with rice and a ton of celery and carrots)?  Well, I can’t send all the soup, so this will have to suffice.  Take this info along with you as the weather cools and you’re spending more time camping and hiking in the cold weather.

 

The Cold Hard Facts on the Common Cold

The Common Cold is defined as an acute infection of any and all parts of the respiratory tract from the nasal mucosa to the nasal sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea, and bronchi. Most people come down with a cold at least once per year.  School-aged children are most susceptible due to the facts that their immune system is not as highly developed as and adults, and that they are in close proximity to a larger “pool” of sick little minnows.  Perhaps that is where the word “school” takes its true meaning!  Cigarette smokers also have a higher risk and longer recovery time for the cold.

In terms of etiology, more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold.  Some examples are rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and coronaviruses.  For this reason (size and diversity of the viral origin) it is very difficult to identify the exact cause of the organism.  The colds are never really cured; for the most part, the symptoms are addressed and an attempt is made to ameliorate the sufferer’s condition.  The common cold causes more lost work time and absence from school than any other ailment.

On average, people in the U.S. spend more than $1 billion each year on nonprescription medicines and treatments for the common cold and its symptoms.The symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • the swelling of nasal mucosa, increased mucus production
  • cough
  • swelling of the throat lining
  • sinus pressure with or without watery eyes
  • lethargy
  • loss of sleep.

The symptoms can last anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.  Should the cold run longer than 10 days, be accompanied by fever, or have systemic conditions, this may be an indication that something more serious is underlying.  In this case, contact your physician for an appointment immediately.

How to Get Better

The offending organism/virus may be present in nasal secretions for 1 week or even longer past the initial onset of the signs and symptoms.  It is important for this reason alone to dispose of all Kleenex and tissue paper used to expel mucous, and to control handkerchiefs so they have no contact with anyone else.  As mentioned earlier, patients treat the symptoms and suffer through the cold until it has run its course.  There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications available to the cold-afflicted person.

Analgesics: painkillers for aches, pains, and muscular soreness; some are also fever-reducers; these include Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Aspirin, and Ibuprofen (Motrin).  Follow the instructions on the label. Generally they should be taken with food and water.

Antihistamines: these decrease the nasal secretions of mucous by blocking the actions of histamine. One example is Chlorpheniramine.

Cough Medicines: these fall into two general categories – 1. Expectorants: these increase the amount of phlegm and mucous production to make the cough more productive; the secretions gradually remove the organism. An example is Guaifenisin. 2. Antitussives: these reduce the coughing. Dextromethorphan is an example.

Decongestants: they shrink the blood vessels of the nasal passages and help to relieve edema (swelling) and the congestion.  An example is Pseudeoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed), of which now you have to show your driver’s license to buy it OTC: government approval to insure you’re not using it to make Methamphetamines.

There are also some natural aids that can help in your supportive care and may aid in your recovery.  Vitamin C is recommended by Dr. Balch to fight cold viruses, in amounts ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 mg daily.Although citrus fruits and juices are rich in Vitamin C, you’ll have to find a reliable supplement to provide the amounts listed in the above recommendation.

Eucalyyptus oil can be found in your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart and in your health food stores.  The oil is useful in combating congestion.  Place 5 drops in your bath, or 6 drops per cup of boiling water as a steam inhalant to loosen the congestion.  Read any instructions on the label from the manufacturer.

Tea Tree oil can also be found in the aforementioned sources.  The oil is helpful with sore throats.  Place 3-6 drops in warm water and gargle with it up to 3 times per day, and remember: do not drink it.  Spit it out.  Follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label, as different brands have different concentrations.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is (as usual) the all-around wonder herb.  Garlic is effective in preventing the common cold, reducing recovery time, and reducing symptom duration. The herb is available in capsule or tablet form  in the aforementioned establishments, and as a solid or aqueous extract in your health food concerns.  Daily dosage is 4 grams of fresh garlic per day.  A clove can be consumed 1-2 times per day, or up to 8 mg essential oil.

Influenza

Influenza is another virus to worry about during the colder months. It has plagued man throughout the ages and is only now in the “infancy stages” of being understood, especially in function.  The disease (seasonal) is described as being an acute, contagious, respiratory infection with fever, headache, and cough, originating with a virus (influenza A, in 65% of cases, or influenza B, in 35% of cases). Incubation is usually 1-3 days with the illness running its course in about a week. There are more than 400 types of viruses.  Current antiviral medications include amantadine and rimantadine.

Over-the-counter medications are for treatment of symptoms while the body is fighting the infection and recovering.  Such medications are guaifenisin (an expectorant),acetaminophen (fever and pain), and robitussin (cough), among others.  We are all undoubtedly familiar with them.  So how do viruses work?  What are they?  Let us explore some basics to better understand them.

Treating the Influenza Virus

Influenza has plagued man throughout the ages and is only now in the “infancy stages” of being understood, especially in function.  The disease (seasonal) is described as being an acute, contagious, respiratory infection with fever, headache, and cough, originating with a virus (influenza A, in 65% of cases, or influenza B, in 35% of cases). Incubation is usually 1-3 days with the illness running its course in about a week.  Current antiviral medications include amantadine and rimantadine.

Over-the-counter medications are for treatment of symptoms while the body is fighting the infection and recovering.  Such medications are guaifenisin (an expectorant),acetaminophen (fever and pain), and robitussin (cough), among others.  We are all undoubtedly familiar with them.  So how do viruses work?  What are they?  Let us explore some basics to better understand them.

There are more than 400 types of viruses.  A virus is basically a pathogen with a protein coating containing nucleic acids.  They are broken down and classified by several methods pertaining to their physiology:  1.  Genome (RNA or DNA), 2. Host/target (bacteria, plant, or animal), 3. Reproduction mode, 4. Mode of transmission, and 5. Disease/illness effected.

The influenza virus is absorbed by its “victim,” or host (either respiration or ingestion usually), and then it attaches itself to the cell wall of one of the host’s cells.  The virus then injects its viral-DNA into the cell where it synthesizes with cellular DNA and proteins.  Such is its process of reproduction, and its unit is referred to as a phage.  The cell’s own machinery is utilized to reproduce more phages.  The cell becomes “overcrowded” with phages and the cell wall lyses (or ruptures) to release untold numbers of new individual phages to (each) begin the cycle again.

Sometimes the phages form small “buds” that break off and infect another cell.  One of the problems with viruses is that they can have antigens, which are protein markers normally recognizable to our body’s White Blood Cells (WBC’s); the antigens mutate frequently, and this is the problem.  The WBC’s cannot recognize the new, mutated antigen as the problem.  Immunoglobulins are antibodies, and these are confounded by the change/mutation that prevents them from working effectively against the new form of the virus.

Viruses are very small, requiring (in most cases) an electron microscope to be able to detect them.  The field of comparison could be likened in this manner: a bacterial cell can be likened to the size of a bus, and a virus would be likened to a marble on that bus.  Provided please find a list of definitions that will help you that you can refer to in the subsequent article:

Virulence – the relative power and degree of pathogenicity possessed by organisms.

Retroviruses – (Retroviridae); these viruses contain reverse transcriptase, an enzyme essential for reverse transcription, i.e., production of a DNA molecule from an RNA model.

Neuraminidase – an enzyme present on the surface of influenza virus particles; enables the virus to separate from the cell.

Cytokine – One of more than 100 distinct proteins produced by WBC’s.  Provide signals to stimulate specific immune response during inflammation/infection.

Incubation – The interval between exposure to infection and the appearance of the first symptom.

You may be wondering a few things, but mainly, why all this?  You needed a few basics and some notes to help you with your understanding of the mechanics of the virus and how it affects you.  In order to provide clear-cut, factual information without continually explaining terms, these basics have been provided.  “What about naturopathic cures for seasonal influenza?” may be your next question?  You already have heard of standard herbal and natural foods to help with influenza (seasonal), such as Echinacea or Elderberry.  Such foods as these, in the case of the Ebola virus, or even the (almost forgotten) H5N1 (Bird flu virus)…these herbs will be detrimental to you.

In the case of the “standard” seasonal flu, however, Echinacea and Elderberry are just fine. Echinacea refers to the Purple Coneflower, primarily (Echinacea purpurea), and this is available in many different forms (capsule, liquid, and other forms).  Daily dosage is 900 mg of drug for a maximum duration of 8 weeks.

Echinacea refers to the Purple Coneflower, primarily (Echinacea purpurea), and this is available in many different forms (capsule, liquid, and other forms).  Daily dosage is 900 mg of drug for a maximum duration of 8 weeks.

 Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can shorten the duration and severity of the flu.  The daily dosage is 10 – 15 grams.  With it and with Echinacea, check the label to see the proper dosage, as each can be found in varying strengths and concentrations as per the manufacturer.

Please keep in mind that all of the aforementioned naturopathic aids are supportive in nature and are an adjunct, not a substitute for a doctor’s care.  Consult with your friendly and happy family physician prior to taking any actions regarding any information provided in this article.  Be well.