Cold & Flu

Cold & Flu Articles

Fall vaccination roundup

Vaccines are the best protection people have when it comes to certain illnesses. Older adults should get a flu shot every year, and should talk to their doctors about whether to get vaccines for pneumonia, tetanus, and shingles. Doctors say it doesn’t matter where one gets vaccines, whether it’s a doctor’s office or drugstore, as long as it’s a registered site, and the product is standard FDA-approved. The CDC recommends that people get flu shots as soon as they become available each year, even before October. (Locked) More »

Flu vaccination: Win some, lose some

Annual vaccination lowers the risk of flu infection but is more effective in some years than others because it is not always possible to predict exactly which strains of the virus are most prevalent. Despite varying results, vaccination is strongly recommended for people with health problems that put them at higher risk of severe flu complications like pneumonia. People at high risk are also urged to take an antiviral medication as soon as they start to feel flu symptoms. Starting on drugs early suppresses the virus before it has a chance to trigger more serious health problems. (Locked) More »

Influenza

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by an influenza virus. The flu virus enters your body when you breathe in air containing infected droplets, usually generated by someone else's coughing or sneezing. Outbreaks occur nearly every winter, and vary in severity depending on that year's strain of the influenza virus. If you are like most people, you have had the flu at some point in your life. You may have felt awful for a week or so, but you got over it. Some people, though, develop serious complications such as pneumonia. Some even die from the flu. Those most at risk for complications include infants, people over age 60, and those with heart disease, lung disease, or chronic diseases that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes. The influenza virus can cause severe pneumonia. It can also weaken the lungs, allowing harmful bacteria to take over and cause bacterial pneumonia. This can happen even to healthy young adults. More »

How does cold weather affect your health?

Cold weather brings a number of health risks for older adults. Close indoor contact with other people puts one at risk for cold and flu. Prolonged exposure to even mild cold puts one at risk for hypothermia. A lack of moisture in the air can make skin dry. And cold weather, which can narrow blood vessels, can increase the risk of heart attack. To fight back against these risks, people can wash their hands frequently, bundle up when going outdoors, use an oil-based skin lotion, shower in lukewarm water, and avoid intense outdoor activity. More »

Could a cold remedy make you sicker?

Even though some cold remedies are available over the counter, they are still medications that can interact with other drugs and interfere with existing health problems. It’s crucial to read the active ingredient list of any OTC medication before taking it, and talk to a pharmacist or doctor if unsure about the risks. Be especially careful with decongestants, antihistamines, and acetaminophen. Cold remedies with a combination of medications can be dangerous because a person may not need all of the medications.  More »

How to boost your immune system

Image: lzf/Getty Images How can you improve your immune system? On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response? The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don't know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function. More »

10 Flu Myths

The flu is a good example of how medical myths can get in the way of good medical care. When it's flu season, take the necessary steps to stay healthy. That includes separating fact from myth. More »