Know Your Enemy! / Test your cold and flu IQ - From Our Pharmacist - Raley’s Family of Fine Stores

From Our Pharmacist:  Know Your Enemy!
Test your cold and flu IQ

With a little vigilance, most of us will avoid the misery of colds and flu this season. Our pharmacists are always available to assist you in choosing non-prescription medicines that will safely provide relief, while that TLC at home speeds you back to health. In the meantime, here is a little quiz to get you prepared.

Influenza, "the flu," is an intestinal illness. False. The flu is a respiratory illness causing high fevers, dry cough and pneumonia. Influenza causes 20,000 deaths annually. The "stomach flu" is caused by unrelated viruses.

Colds and flu are spread by germs on handrails. False. Cold and flu viruses do not survive very long on inanimate surfaces. They are more readily spread by direct person-to-person contact and by inhaling infected droplets. To prevent the transmission of viruses, hand washing is the most effective method. Plain soap or alcohol-based sanitizing gels kill most viruses.

Cold weather increases your risk of getting a respiratory infection. True. But only in adults over the age of 55. Prolonged exposure to cold may cause stress that alters the immune response. There's no evidence that children are affected.

Children of smokers get colds and flu more often. True. Secondhand smoke inhaled by members of the smoker's household injures airways and damages cilia in the lungs that clear away toxins and airborne pollutants. This damage makes children more susceptible to viral infections.

Once I get a flu shot, I only need a booster every five years. False. You need a booster once a year. The vaccine must be re-designed annually to match the current viral strain, and immunity only lasts three to four months. It's best to be vaccinated by the end of November, but it's not too late. Being vaccinated in December or January still gives you loads of protection, since the worst of the "flu season" doesn't hit until January or February.

A flu vaccination can give you the flu. False. Some people have muscle aches and a low-grade fever for one or two days after being immunized, but this isn't influenza.

A flu shot reduces your risk of getting a cold. True. Although the flu shot isn't made to protect against colds, for some reason, people who have been vaccinated have fewer colds than those not immunized.

You should feed a cold and starve a fever. False. There's no evidence that this works. Just eat when you're hungry and try to drink 10 glasses of liquids each day to replace fluids lost due to fevers.

Chicken soup reduces cold and flu symptoms. True. Sometimes referred to as "grandma's penicillin," chicken soup has mild anti-inflammatory effects, reducing cold and flu symptoms. Steam from the broth moistens and soothes nasal passages, while adding garlic may shorten the length of the cold. Pepper can help clear nasal congestion.

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