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Cold? Flu? Allergies? Pt. 1 Which or what is it??

Its that time of the year, the weather is getting colder and its time for colds, coughs, allergies and the flu to make its appearance. What is it? What are the signs and symptoms? What do you have? How can you improve your chances of NOT catching something? And what do you do IF you or a loved one starts to feel something isn’t right?

I have put this information together for ease of reading and understanding and all information is taken directly from WebMd.

In this first part of Colds, Flu, Coughs, Allergies we will discuss what the symptoms/signs are of some the most common upper respiratory ailments are. Part 2 will have prevention tips and suggestions and Part 3 will address what to do ‘just in case’ you get a cold or the flu and finally, we will discuss, in Part 4 what complications may arise from the common cold or flu. No matter if its an average day when you get sick or the end of the world as you know it, we got you covered to help yourself, just in case.

Colds

Colds usually begin abruptly with a sore throat followed by symptoms such as clear, watery nasal drainage; sneezing; fatigue; and sometimes a low-grade fever (below 101 degrees F). Postnasal drip causes the sore throat and cough that accompany colds.

For the first few days of a cold, your nose drips with watery nasal secretions. Later, these secretions may become thicker and darker. (Dark mucus with a cold virus does not necessarily mean that you have developed a bacterial infection, so don’t beg your doctor for an antibiotic.)

A mild cough is a common cold symptom. The cough won’t get much worse, but this common cold symptom is likely to last into the second week of your cold. If you suffer with asthma or other lung problem, a cold may make it worse. If you are coughing up dark mucus — or if you are feeling a lot of distress in the lower parts of your lungs — you may have a bacterial infection. It’s a good idea to touch base with your doctor to find out if you need to be seen.

Usually, there is no fever with common cold symptoms. In fact, fever and more severe symptoms may indicate that you have the flu and not a cold.

Common cold symptoms usually start between one and three days after you are infected by a cold virus. Typically, they last for about three to seven days. At that point, the worst is over, but you may feel congested for a week or more. During the first three days that you have common cold symptoms, you are contagious. This means you can pass the cold virus to those you come in contact with.

If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

Sometimes you may mistake cold symptoms for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. If your cold symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed an allergy or sinusitis.

Flu

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Swine flu in particular is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.

Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it’s not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more.

How do you know if you have flu or cold symptoms? Take your temperature, say many experts. Flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, cough, aches, and malaise. But a common cold rarely has symptoms of fever above 101 degrees F. With flu symptoms, you will probably have a fever initially with the flu virus and you will feel miserable. Body and muscle aches are also more common with the flu. This table can help determine if you have cold or flu symptoms.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Sometimes, usually mild Usual; higher (100-102 F; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Occasionally Common
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe

Other great questions to ask yourself or your child to figure out what ‘it’ is:

Flu vs. Colds: A Guide to Symptoms
Questions Flu Cold
Was the onset of illness … sudden? slow?
Do you or your child have a … high fever? no (or mild) fever?
Is you or your child’s exhaustion level … severe? mild?
Is you or your child’s head … achy? headache-free?
Is you or your child’s appetite … decreased? normal?
Are you or your child’s muscles … achy? fine?
Do you or your child have … chills? no chills?

Colds and flues are caused by hundreds of different viruses. When one of these viruses gets into your body, your immune system attacks. Some of the effects of this immune response are the classic symptoms of a cold, such as congestion and coughing. With the flu, you will often have the classic symptom of body aches and fever.

The germs that cause colds and flues are contagious. You can pick them up when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most (with the flu its just days), your immune system fights off the virus and you stop having symptoms.

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless substances — such as mold or pollen — for germs and attacks them. Your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause swelling in your nasal passages, a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Allergies are not contagious, although some people may inherit a tendency to develop them.

Differences Between Colds and Allergies

Characteristic

Cold

Allergy

Duration

three-14 days

Days to months — as long as you are exposed to the allergen

Time of Year

Most often in the winter, but possible at any time

Any time of the year — although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal

Onset of symptoms

Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus.

Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen

Symptom

Cold

Allergy

Cough

Often

Sometimes

Aches

Sometimes

Never

Fatigue

Sometimes

Sometimes

Fever

Rarely

Never

Itchy, watery eyes

Rarely

Often

Sore throat

Often

Sometimes

Runny or stuffy nose

Often; usually yellow mucus

Often; usually clear mucus

Although there are some differences, cold and allergy symptoms overlap quite a bit. The most important difference is that colds don’t last longer than 14 days. If you still have symptoms after two weeks, these may be allergy symptoms.

In the next part of this series, Cold? Flu? Allergies? we will discuss common ways to prevent ‘catching’ a cold, flu or having allergy symptoms.

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December 1, 2011 Posted by | Guidelines, Medical Conditions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dehydration

Dehydration can happen anytime, to anyone. Simply put, dehydration is the sudden loss of fluids from the body which isn’t replaced as quickly as it is lost. The most vulnerable amongst us is the elderly and the very young. Often it happens during the summer time (from plain old not replenishing fluids) but it can also happen when we are sick, loosing fluids due to vomiting or diarrhea, blood loss, malnutrition or running a temperature and sweating. Often overlooked is frequent urination (as a cause of) due to Moreover, frequent urination due to diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption or prolonged intake of medicines like diuretics, antipsychotics, blood pressure medications. Those who are these medications should take special precautions to avoid dehydration.

Anytime we do not have enough fluids in our body (or do not replace them fast enough) dehydration occurs. Dehydration can occur very quickly in young children and infants so anytime a young child or infant is sick, please do not wait before symptoms appear…take action immediately to PREVENT dehydration. For adults, prevent is rather easy, drink before you become thirsty.

The Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration usually begin with thirst and progress to more alarming manifestations as the need for water becomes more dire. The initial signs and symptoms of mild dehydration in adults appear when the body has lost about 2% of it’s total fluid. These mild dehydration symptoms are often (but not limited to):

  • Thirst
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Dry Skin
  • SkinFlushing
  • Dark Colored Urine (or strong smelling)
  • Dry Mouth
  • fatigue or Weakness
  • Chills
  • Head Rushes

If the dehydration is allowed to continue unabated, when the total fluid loss reaches 5% the following effects of dehydration are normally experienced:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiration
  • Decreased sweating
  • Decreased urination
  • Increased body temperature
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Tingling of the limbs

When the body reaches 10% fluid loss emergency help is needed IMMEDIATELY! 10% fluid loss and above is often fatal! Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Vomiting
  • Racing pulse
  • Shriveled skin
  • Dim vision
  • Painful urination
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Chest and Abdominal pain
  • unconsciousness

With children and infants it may be hard to spot and includes all of the above PLUS:

  • Fussiness and irritability
  • Lethargic or ‘lifeless’
  • Hard to wake up
  • Very little energy
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry nose or mouth
  • Decreased or no urination (dry diaper)
  • Glassy eyes
  • Difficulty focusing or paying attention
  • Sunken ‘soft spot’
  • Tearless crying

Prevention is key with dehydration. If you are working outside or playing outside when it is hot, or you have no air conditioning, or you or someone you knows becomes sick for whatever reason there are some very simple things that you can do to prevent dehydration or treat it before it becomes life-threatening:

PUSH THE FLUIDS! An electrolyte drink or one of the ‘home’ remedies is best to use to prevent dehydration. If someone is sick or is vomiting or has diarrhea a good rule of thumb is one cup of fluids to each ‘throw up’ or ‘loose stool’. It is okay if they/you throw it back up, not all of it ‘comes back up’.

Simple electrolyte drink (for adults and children over age 3, see further down for infants and young children’s formula)

½ tsp of table salt

¼ tsp of a salt substitute or potassium chloride

½ tsp of baking soda

2 tbsp of sugar

Add the salt, salt substitute, baking soda and sugar to 1 quart of boiling water. Allow the water to cool before giving. You may add one package of unsweetened kool-aid to flavor this (not the kind where you just add water!).

Infants and Young Child Re-hydration Solution at the bottom!

Natural Remedies For Dehydration and Prevention:

Prevention: (good for any reason)

  • Avoid junk food, fatty foods, fruit juices, apricots, peas, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, etc.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages
  • Eat yogurt, buttermilk, mint, apple, pomegrant, papya, bananas, carrots, potatos
  • Drink a mixture of 1 tsp mint juice (make an infusion), ½ tsp ginger juice (infusion) and 1 tsp of honey

Treatments for dehydration:

  • Refer to the above for prevention
  • Drink ½ tsp dry ginger in 1 cup buttermilk 3-4 times a day
  • Drink the Simple Electrolyte Drink (this especially important if you are in a moderate to severe dehydration stage and can’t get to a doctor).
  • Add three to four drops of peppermint essential oil to glass of water. Drink this mixture for immediate relief from dehydration.(only when it is just starting)
  • Yogurt is the best food for dehydration, thus consume at least one bowl of yogurt in day. You may even add some chopped basil leaves with pinch of black pepper for yummy taste.
  • Mix ripe banana with two teaspoonful of honey. Consume this mixture to beat excessive weakness due to dehydration. You may eat this mixture two times in a day.
  • Stew 1 apple with 1/8 tsp of nutmeg powder and 1 tsp of sugar for children to eat.
  • Drink a mixture of one teaspoon each of sugar and lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a pint of water. Drink this throughout the day from time to time to heal the problem.
  • Drink water mixed with apple juice or orange juice.
  • Sipping some pickle juice and then drink water before going out in the sun.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelons, strawberries, raisins, cucumbers, tomatoes and other similar foods.

Small infants and very young children:.

Note: Formula for Infant/Young children ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) is different and is found below:

 1 Liter Oral Rehydration Solution for Infants and Young Children:

1 tsp salt

8 tsp sugar

 

Heat 1 liter (5 cups) of water to a boil and then add the salt and sugar to the water, stirring until dissolved. Serve once it has cooled.

 

Homemade Cereal-based ORS:

 

½ to 1 cup precooked baby rice cereal or 1 ½ tbsp of sugar

2 cups water

½ tsp salt

Mix well the rice cereal (or sugar) water and salt together until the mixture thickens but is not too thick to drink.

Give the mixture often by spoon and as much as the baby will accept (every minute if possible)

  • Use the Oral Re-Hydration Infant Solution and not the adult version!
  • Keep giving liquids slowly until the child’s urine becomes clear in color.
  • If the child is vomiting, give small amounts of solution at frequent intervals — try a spoonful or so every few minutes, for instance. If your child can’t keep this down, wait 30 to 60 minutes and try again.
  • Room temperature fluids are best.
  • If breast feeding…continue to breast-feed. Don’t stop breast-feeding when your baby is sick, but offer your baby an oral rehydration solution in a bottle as well.
  • For babies that drink formula, try switching to one that’s lactose-free until diarrhea improves — lactose can be difficult to digest during diarrhea, making diarrhea worse.
  • Infants who are bottle-fed should continue to drink formula diluted to half strength. (in cases of vomiting and diarrhea)

Young children should not drink soda, juices, or sports drinks such as Gatorade. They do not contain the right amount of glucose, sodium, chloride, and potassium to properly balance the electrolyte levels.

  

the above was taken in whole from: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/epr/public/h1n1/homehealthcare/Preventing%20and%20Treating%20Dehydration.pdf

Please NOTE: that for young children the re-hydration drink formula is DIFFERENT than the adult/older child formula.

 

The above are ways that you may help yourself either prevent or take care of dehydration at home. It cannot be stressed enough that prevention is the best way to go, but just in case you find yourself having to deal with dehydration you now have the information and knowledge is power.

If you find yourself experiencing any symptoms beyond that of mild dehydration please seek professional medical care immediately. Do not attempt to treat severe dehydration yourself unless it is absolutely impossible to get proper medical treatment.

*All information has been taken from the internet or professional reference books.

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Baby/Infant, Guidelines, Medical Conditions, Self-Help | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment