It’s Only a Cold …

As a concierge medical practice we pride ourselves on being available to help our patients with access to the doctor by phone and same day appointments. At this time of year we are faced with daily phone calls regarding cold or flu like symptoms.  Thus, I thought it appropriate to share some topical information which should be useful in helping anyone decide whether they should “ride out the storm” or give their doctor a call.

There are at least 1,500 different known viruses that lead to a viral upper respiratory tract infection sometimes known as “the common cold”.   With these, a high sustained fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit is rare.  Aches and pains, nasal discharge with runny nose and post nasal drip are common. Dry cough advancing to a barking cough productive of clear, yellow and often greenish phlegm is common as well.  You’ll most likely feel miserable. Your sinus and head congestion make you feel like you are in a tunnel, a sound chamber, or wearing a deep sea diving helmet. Your appetite waxes and wanes. You are exhausted with the activities of daily living.  Getting out of bed to wash your face and groom yourself may seem as challenging as a 26.5 mile race up a hill.

Currently, there is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics do not work.  A “Z Pack “does not speed up the process. An injection of antibiotic does not make it go away faster. The infection could care less if you have a high school reunion to go to in Philadelphia, a grandchild’s bar mitzvah or baptism, or a flight to Paris for a combined work/pleasure excursion. Frankly, once you have this type of viral infection you will most likely have to ride out the storm.

Furthermore, going to the ER and sitting and waiting to be seen doesn’t make the infection go away quicker. Paying for a visit at a walk in center or urgent care center where you are more likely to negotiate successfully for an unwarranted or needed antibiotic will not help either.

In most instances, your recovery from the virus will take 7-14 days providing you drink plenty of warm fluids, rest when you are tired and use common sense. Cough medicine may ease the cough. Saline nasal solution may clear the nasal congestion. Judicious use of a nasal decongestant under your physician’s supervision may help as well.  It will take time. You are contagious. No you should not go to the gym if you are feeling poorly. Chicken soup, tincture of time, hot tea with honey, plenty of rest and common sense are recommended remedies.

If at any point you still feel you have the plague, dengue fever, the bird flu or the Ebola virus come on in. We will take a look, evaluate your symptoms and likely tell you, “It’s a cold.”

Cold and Flu Season: Prevention / Treatment

Cold (upper respiratory viral infection) and flu season is upon us again   What can you do to prevent a cold?

Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin C intake before developing cold symptoms greatly helps. In the American College of Physicians Guide to Alternative and Complimentary Medicine they cite a series of studies that looked at highly stressed athletic and military personnel residing in cramped quarters in extremely challenging and cold environments. Those who made sure to ingest extra vitamin C by various routes including increasing their fresh fruits and vegetables had fewer colds which were less intense.

Recent studies published in the British Medical Journal and performed at Appalachian State University showed that brisk exercise for thirty minutes a day at least five days a week prevented colds. By mobilizing your immune cells during exercise you tend to stay healthier longer.  Previous studies in pregnant women and older adults confirm the cold fighting benefits of regular exercise.

The flu shot works to prevent influenza.  It is safe, inexpensive and readily available this year.  This year’s seasonal influenza vaccine contains protection against traditional influenza strains and the H1N1 virus. It is recommended in all adults.

If you catch a cold we suggest you try common sense, rest when fatigued, consume extra fluids especially warm fluids such as chicken soup and give thought to trying zinc lozenges.  Zinc lozenges taken every two hours may prevent viral particles from attaching to cell surfaces in mouth, throat and nose and cut the intensity and duration of your infection.  Taking the zinc tablet every two hours for the first twenty four hours is apparently the key.