January 28, 2009
A case of the flu is often confused with a cold: the symptoms are
frequently played down and dismissed as being a harmless cold. This
can have fatal consequences; a prolonged case of the flu can lead to
complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis and circulatory failure.
If you suddenly feel seriously ill, have a high fever (over 39°), dry
cough, headache, muscular or joint pain, this is an indication of flu
and you should consult a doctor immediately.
Influenza is a malicious virus — only vaccination can offer protection
against it. The vaccination is renewed every year in line with the
dominant viral strain. The recommended treatment is bed rest for at
least three days after contracting a fever and medication to reduce the
" or "Tamiflu®
are types of prescription medication available to combat the influenza
virus — but they must be taken within 48 hours of presenting symptoms.
A common cold (caused by a virus) on the other hand is often
exaggerated by the sufferer — bed rest is only required in special
cases; such as old age, secondary illnesses or low immunity. Typical
symptoms are: acute rhinitis, productive or non-productive cough,
fatigue and only a mild fever (below 39°). However, if what is known as
a bacterial "super bug" develops, it must be treated with antibiotics
prescribed by a doctor.
Antibiotics only have an effect on
bacterial infections. Over 80% of all colds are caused by viruses. A
responsible doctor will only prescribe antibiotics in rare cases of a
bacterial "super bug" (pneumonia, sinusitis or tonsillitis).
How can people help themselves?
The cold virus is attacking the nasal mucous membranes.
Recommended actions: Drink plenty, take 1000 mg Vitamin C every day and
rinse your nose with saltwater. A ten-minute "sweat bath" is also very
effective; have a bath with a water temperature of up to 40°, then get
straight into bed and "sweat" under the covers for 30 minutes while
drinking hot tea. This imitates the virus-killing effects of a fever.
The virus has reached the throat mucous membrane.
Recommended actions: Wear a scarf day and night — the additional heat
promotes blood circulation and therefore raises the body's defences.
Paracetamol can also be taken to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The virus has now spread throughout the entire body.
Recommended actions: Take on 2–3 litres of fluids, get plenty of rest and ensure rooms are well ventilated.
Decongestant nose drops from the chemist can ease this (take drops three to four times a day), rinse with saltwater.
Drink plenty throughout the day,
inhalations containing lime blossom tea or ivy extract keep the mucous
membrane moist. Your doctor can prescribe medication that inhibits a
chesty cough to help you sleep. Raising the head of the bed also
reduces the irritation during the night.
If you have a productive cough, you should take expectorant medication,
drink plenty and, if you are producing yellow or green phlegm, take
antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Fever & aches and pains:
Most medication for pain
relief (such as paracetamol and aspirin) also effectively calms a
fever. "Natural" methods of calming a fever (very effective) include
wrapping both lower legs in wet, lukewarm cloths and then wrapping
these in a woollen cloth (or thick socks). Repeat after 15 minutes.
VITAMINS – SPORT – WASHING HANDS – INFLUENZA VACCINATION
- Vitamins: An increased vitamin intake in the
winter has been shown to reduce colds by 30%. It is recommended to eat
plenty of fruit and vegetables, and possibly Vitamin C supplements.
- Sport: Moving about in the fresh air keeps your circulation going and strengthens the immune system.
- Washing hands: Most cold viruses enter through the
nasal mucous membrane and the eyes. If you wash your hands frequently
and avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your nose, you can reduce the
risk of infection by 80%!
- Influenza vaccination: Protects against classic cases of flu (influenza) — but remember: this must be re-administered every year!
International Healthcare News from Dr. Ulli //