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Respiratory Health Tips


Beat That Winter Cold
The best way to lower the odds of coming down with a cold this season may be to grab a drum. Don't laugh -- a new study shows that group drumming, which has been practiced for centuries, boosts the immune system's "natural killer" cells, which destroy viruses and help head off cancer. (It's even been used to help calm autism and Alzheimer's patients.) While some experts doubt that a temporary post-drumming surge in immune cells can actually ward off disease, others say the musical technique is worth a try. So the next time you start to sniffle, beat it!

Cold and Cold Sore Prevention
Stress and cold weather weaken our immune system and allow viruses to replicate.

To prevent cold sores and the common cold:
1. Take 1 Stress tab (Multiple B vitamin complex) every day.
2. Take in increased amounts of lysine found in dairy products and potatoes or use a lysine supplement.
3. Avoid foods rich in arginine, such as chocolate, cola, peas, grain cereals, peanuts and beer.
4. Eat lots of yogurt.
5. Use a zinc supplement daily

Cold Care
Rest in bed if you have a fever.
Drink lots of liquids. They help clear out your respiratory tract. This can help prevent other problems, like bronchitis.
Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium for muscle aches and pains.
(Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication containing salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger, unless directed by a physician, due to its association with Reye's Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition).
Use salt water drops to relieve nasal congestion. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Place in a clean container. Put 3 to 4 drops into each nostril several times a day, with a clean medicine dropper.

If you have a sore throat:
Gargle every few hours with a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water.
Drink tea with lemon (with or without honey).
Suck on a piece of hard candy or medicated lozenge every so often. (Do not give to children under age 5).
Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the room.
Check with your doctor before trying vitamin C or zinc lozenges. It seems to make some people feel better when they have a cold.

Cold Prevention
Wash your hands often. Keep them away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
Try not to touch people or their things when they have a cold, especially the first 2-3 days they have the cold. This is the most contagious stage.
Get lots of exercise. Eat and sleep well.
Use a handkerchief or tissues when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose. This helps keep you from passing cold viruses to others.
Use a "cool mist" vaporizer in your bedroom in the winter.

Cold Sore Remedies
1. Dab on witch hazel or zinc lozenge solution to dry it.
2. Take in increased amounts of lysine found in dairy products and potatoes or use a lysine supplement.
3. Avoid foods rich in arginine, such as chocolate, cola, peas, grain cereals, peanuts and beer.
4. Replace your toothbrush because it can harbor the herpes virus for days.
5. Use small tubes of toothpaste instead of large ones because of the chance of contamination of the tube with your toothbrush.

Cold Symptoms
Runny nose
Fever of 101 F or less
Sore throat
Dry cough

Colds and Dry Air
Most people catch colds by inhaling the cold virus from someone who is ill or by having hand-to-hand contact with them. Contrary to popular belief, cold air won't make you more vulnerable to catching a cold, but dry air will.

Reach for the Chicken Soup
Now that sneezing season is in full swing, it's nice to know that scientific research has finally confirmed what your grandmother has said for years: Chicken soup can ease your sniffles. Common symptoms such as congestion, a cough and a runny nose are believed to be triggered by immune cells called neutrophils that flood the respiratory tract, throat and lungs. The neutrophils kill germs but cause inflammation. In studies at the University of Nebraska, chicken soup containing onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery and parsley (many of which are chock-full of healthful antioxidants) reduced the activity of the neutrophils, quelling annoying sneezes and coughs.

What Is a Cold and How Do I Get It?
The common cold usually lasts 3 to 7 days and the average person gets 3 or 4 colds a year. How do we get colds? Colds are caused by viruses. You can get a cold virus from mucus on a person's hands when they have a cold, such as through a hand shake. You can also pick up the viruses on towels, telephones, money, etc. Them someone else picks them up from you. It goes on and on. Cold viruses also travel through coughs and sneezes.

Work Out with a Cold, Rest with a Fever
Should you hit the treadmill when you've got the sniffles? Here, the sick-girl's guide to exercising during the flu season:

--Symptom: Fever. Working out in a hot gym coupled with a high temp could make you feel faint -- or even cause you to pass out.

--Symptom: Coughing. Exercise can increase your risk of dehydration, especially if you have a bad cough or the flu. Nix exercise if you're hacking.

--Symptom: Runny nose and/or sneezing. The general rule of thumb: If your symptoms are confined to areas above the neck, it's usually OK to exercise.

--Symptom: Muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, swollen glands. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, rest is your best bet -- otherwise you could wind up sick all over again.

Influenza (Flu)

Flu Facts
The viruses that cause influenza change rapidly, making different strains coexist on the planet at any given time. Influenza vaccines are developed each year to protect people from the three strains expected to be most prevalent. ALL THE VIRUSES IN THE VACCINE ARE KILLED, SO IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO GET THE FLU FROM THE VACCINE. MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO SIDE EFFECTS FROM THE INFLUENZA VACCINE. SORENESS AT THE INJECTION SITE AND/OR MINOR ACHES AND LOW GRADE FEVER MAY BE PRESENT FOR SEVERAL DAYS.
Since the immunity provided by the vaccine wanes after several months, it is given at the beginning of the "flu season"--usually late October or early November in the U.S. People traveling to other countries should be aware that influenza occurs throughout the year in tropical countries and that the "flu season" for temperate countries in the Southern Hemisphere is April to September.

Flu Shot Facts
Each year, the vaccine is updated to include the most current strains of the virus. After getting a flu shot, a person's body will create antibodies to fight the virus if exposed to it. Antibodies against flu develop and provide protection within 1 or 2 weeks after vaccination.

Flu Shot Myth
A common myth about the flu shot is that it can actually cause the flu. But the flu vaccine in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which means that it's impossible to catch the flu by getting this vaccine.

Groups at High Risk for Flu
1. Persons > 50 years of age.
2. Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing persons of any age with chronic medical conditions.
3. Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including asthma.
4. Adults and children who have required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction, anemias, or immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications).
5. Children and teenagers (aged 6 months-18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and therefore might be at risk of developing Reye's Syndrome after influenza infection.
6. Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season.

People at High Risk to Transmit Flu
1. Physicians, nurses, and other personnel in both hospital and outpatient-care settings, including emergency response workers.
2. Employees of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities who have contact with patients or residents.
3. Employees of assisted living and other residences for persons in high-risk groups.
4. Persons who provide home care to persons in high-risk groups.
5. Household members (including children) of persons in high-risk groups.

People Who SHOULD NOT Have Flu Vaccinations
1. Influenza vaccine should not be administered to persons known to have anaphylactic hypersensitivity to eggs or to other vaccine components without first consulting a physician. Use of an antiviral agent (amantadine or rimantadine) is an option for prevention of influenza A in such persons.
2. Persons with acute febrile illnesses usually should not be vaccinated until their symptoms have abated. However, minor illnesses with or without fever do not contraindicate the use of influenza vaccine, particularly among children with mild upper respiratory tract infection or allergic rhinitis.

What Is Influenza?
Influenza vaccination protects people from contracting influenza, a viral illness affecting the respiratory tract. In the U.S., "flu" outbreaks typically occur between November and April. Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, muscle aching, and cough. Although the illness usually only lasts 3 to 7 days, some people have more severe cases or complications that require hospitalization. Thousands of people in the U.S. die each year as the result of the flu or its complications.
Annual vaccination with influenza vaccine is considered the single most important measure to prevent or to lessen the severity of influenza infection and is strongly recommended for high-risk groups. High-risk individuals should be vaccinated every year. Most people achieve protection from influenza vaccine approximately 2 weeks after receiving the immunization.

Who Else Should Have a Flu Vaccination?
1. Persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) should be vaccinated because influenza symptoms might be prolonged and the risk for complications increased for some HIV-infected persons.
2. Breastfeeding mothers - Flu vaccine does not affect the safety of mothers who are breastfeeding or their infants. Breastfeeding does not adversely affect immune response and is not a contraindication for vaccination.
3. Persons traveling to certain foreign countries (depends on season and destination) should consider vaccination.
4. In routine years, vaccine is recommended for any person who wishes to reduce his/her risk of acquiring influenza infection. However, due to this year's anticipated vaccine delay/shortage, vaccine should be prioritized for persons who are at high-risk and their contacts.


Alcohol Consumption and Lung Disease
Heavy alcohol consumption depresses the immune system and results in a predisposition to infectious diseases, including respiratory infections, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

Persons at Risk for Pneumococcal Disease
Anyone can get pneumococcal disease. But there are some groups at a particularly high risk for pneumococcal disease or its complications. These groups include persons aged 65 and older, individuals with weak immune systems due to cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); persons with sickle cell disease or without a functioning spleen; individuals who have a chronic illness such as lung, heart, and kidney disease, diabetes, and alcoholism; and persons living in special environments or social settings such as Alaskan Natives and certain American Indian populations.

Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of serious illness in children and adults throughout the world. The disease is caused by a common bacterium, the pneumococcus, which can attack different parts of the body. When bacteria invade the lungs, they cause the most common form of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia; when bacteria invade the bloodstream, they cause bacteremia (blood poisoning); and when they invade the covering of the brain, they cause meningitis. Pneumococci may also cause otitis media (middle ear infection) and sinusitis.

Pneumococcal Disease Stats
Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease accounts for an estimated 500,000 cases of pneumonia, 50,000 cases of bacteremia, and 3,000 cases of meningitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pneumococcal disease causes an estimated 40,000 deaths annually, which accounts for more deaths than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. The highest rates of death occur among the elderly and patients who have underlying medical conditions. Despite appropriate treatment with antibiotics and intensive medical care, the approximate overall death rate is five percent for pneumococcal pneumonia, 20 percent for pneumococcal bacteremia and 30 percent for meningitis. Pneumococcal disease is particularly serious for older adults. The rate of death for bacteremia alone is 30-40 percent among elderly patients.

Pneumonia Is Serious Business
Each year in the United States about 500,000 cases of pneumococcal pneumonia occur and about 40,000 of those cases die.

Pneumonia Symptoms
The most common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia are sudden shaking chills, cough, and fever. These symptoms are accompanied by chest congestion, greenish, yellowish, or blood-tinged "rusty" sputum, and a headache. Breathing may be rapid and painful with sharp chest pain.

Prevention of Pneumococcal Disease
The best way to protect against pneumococcal disease is through vaccination. Despite widespread recommendations for its use, in 1997 only 45.4 percent of those aged 65 or older, less than half of all older adults, reported receiving pneumococcal vaccination.

Treatment of Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is treated with antibiotics, such as penicillins, cephalosporins, and erythromycin. In recent years, the rapid emergence of pneumococcal strains resistant to one or more of the commonly used antibiotics, including penicillin, have become increasingly common in the United States and other parts of the world. The impact of this resistance makes treatment difficult, resulting in longer hospitalizations and expensive alternative therapy. The emergence of these resistant strains places further emphasis on the need for preventing pneumococcal disease through vaccination.

Vaccinations Against Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal vaccination, which is reimbursable by Medicare Part B, is appropriate at any time of the year but is most often given at the same time as the influenza vaccine in the early to mid-Fall.
Pneumococcal vaccines are considered clinically effective and safe. In some cases, the vaccine may cause some local reaction or soreness around the site of the injection; however, these reactions are usually minor and subside within a few days.

In most people, vaccination is needed only once in a lifetime. However, for others, including those people at highest risk for serious disease, revaccination may be necessary. Individuals should consult their physicians to determine if revaccination is recommended.

Vaccination is recommended for the approximately 31 million Americans 65 years of age and older, and for the 23 million Americans aged 2 to 64 years who are described as being at high risk for pneumococcal disease or its complications.

Individuals who have had a previous allergic reaction to any component of the pneumococcal vaccine (e.g., hives, difficulty breathing) People receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy Children under two years of age

WHO Warns of Killer Pneumonia
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an atypical pneumonia whose cause is not yet known, was detected in China in February, 2003.

"This syndrome, SARS, is now a worldwide health threat," World Health Organization director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland said in a statement.

The illness, which starts with flu-like symptoms such as coughing, high fever and shortness of breath, can deteriorate rapidly into pneumonia.

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Coronaviruses in Feces?
It is not uncommon for respiratory viruses to be found in feces for a period of time. Some laboratories in the WHO network have reported finding the new coronavirus in stool specimens. Research is under way in the United States and other countries to learn more about the presence and concentration of the virus in different body fluids, including feces. Researchers also are evaluating if the virus can spread to others through different body fluids.

Coronaviruses Survival in the Environment
In general, enveloped viruses such as coronaviruses do not last a long time in the environment. In earlier studies, a different coronavirus was shown to survive for up to 3 hours on surfaces. At this time, it is uncertain how long the newly discovered coronavirus associated with SARS can survive in the environment. In one preliminary study, researchers in Hong Kong found that both dried and liquid samples of the new coronavirus survived as long as 24 hours in the environment. Additional studies are under way to examine this important question.

Hand Hygiene and SARS
Excellent hand hygiene (with alcohol-based hand sanitizers or frequent hand washing) is one of the most effective ways to reduce the transmission of SARS. This is especially important after toileting and before eating.

Surgical Masks and SARS
The CDC is suggesting that people with SARS symptoms (fever and cough or difficulty breathing) wear surgical masks, and/or that people around them wear surgical masks. The SARS outbreak is still small, with fewer than 2,300 cases identified in a world of billions. This is the best time to prevent its spread.

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