Dr. Kristin Woodward explains.
The common cold is just that, extremely common. We get sick 2-3 times a year with a cold, kids 6-7 times a year. The cold can make us miserable for days. We spend 40 billion dollars a year trying to treat it. With this in mind, is there any way to prevent it and what is the best way to treat it?
A new study published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at these questions. The authors analyzed 67 prior studies that examined cold prevention and treatment.
It is no surprise the best way to prevent a cold is by washing your hands. This is especially true in public places. Experts recommend carrying an alcohol based hand sanitizer and using it frequently. Also try not to touch your eyes and nose. That is how viruses enter our bodies.
The authors also found taking zinc supplements can be somewhat effective at preventing colds. Zinc is an essential trace element. Among other things, it supports our immune system. Zinc might not only help prevent a cold it may also decrease the length and severity of a cold. There can be side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain as well as interactions with some medications. Always check with your doctor prior to taking zinc.
If you already have symptoms the best treatment options are ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever and muscle aches, and combination cold medications for congestion and cough. Medications that contain an antihistamine and decongestant seem to work the best. If cold symptoms worsen or last more than a week call your doctor.
Another health story this week looks at our health and the Super Bowl. A study published a few years ago in the journal Clinical Cardiology showed heart attacks increased in men and women living in LA after the LA Rams lost to the Pittsburg Steelers in the1980 Super Bowl. It is important to note, this study showed an association not a cause and effect.
This does not mean we shouldn’t enjoy watching the game. However, if you have a history of heart disease or have risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, or smoke it is important to try to keep stress levels down and keep an eye on food choices.
If you develop any symptoms such as chest pain (pressure, dull ache, burning), shortness of breath, or prolonged indigestion, during the game get checked out by a doctor right away. As much as you want to cheer on your team, don’t wait until after the game.