Monday, November 23, 2015

A doc talks cold weather and viruses

Donald Kennedy, MD, a professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University, says there may never be a "cure" for the common cold because it doesn't kill or even affect the economy much, since most people work despite having one.

Also--there are many viruses that can cause colds--so there is not just one to focus on.

Colds can come at any time of year--but seasonal influenza is different. It usually hits for six weeks between Oct and Feb (in the US), and infects 60 to 70 million people a year. Forty thousand die of it.

What is the difference between flu and a cold? Kennedy says if you have to ask, you don't have flu.

Flu makes you feverish, with chills, muscles aches all over, fatigue, cough, sore throat and a headache.

The term "feel like crap" was invented for flu.

You can get some of these with parainfluenza, too--usually children or older adults. The flu shot does not prevent this.

Should you stay home? If you have a cold, wash your hands a lot, bring your tissues, and carry on, Kennedy says.

What about with the flu or that para stuff? Fever over 100.5--significant. You may need to stay home also if you are completely miserable. How considerate of your workers are you? You decide. Could you really get a lot done at work?

Why does this stuff hit in winter? Kennedy thinks maybe because we are indoors more...but no one knows.

Why are some people sicker than others with the flu? It depends on how much virus you get--sitting next to someone on the bus may give you some, sleeping next to someone will give you a lot more. If you are run down or have a weakened immune system, you are likely to get sicker.

What about Tamiflu or Relenza? Taken early these reduce symptoms slightly, Kennedy says. But the viruses are getting resistant.

So how does that shot look now?

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