Sunday, February 08, 2009

Health Tips for February 8

Health Tip: Caught a Cold?

'Tis the season for a runny nose, cough, sore throat and other symptoms of the common cold.

You shouldn't treat a cold -- always caused by a virus -- with antibiotics, since these medicines are meant to treat bacterial infections. But there are things you can do to feel better while the cold runs its course.

The University of Virginia Health System offers these suggestions:

  • Try over-the-counter medications, such as an antihistamine, decongestant or cough medicine.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Take a pain reliever to control headache and fever.
  • Soothe a sore throat by gargling with warm salt water.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to sore, dry skin around the nose and lips.
  • Use a warm steam to ease congestion.

Health Tip: Taking Cough Medicine?

An over-the-counter cough medicine may offer some relief for a simple cough or cold, but cough medicine probably won't alleviate symptoms of more serious conditions.

Here are warning signs that your cough requires a call to your doctor, courtesy of the American Academy of Family Physicians:

  • A "productive cough," characterized by coughing up phlegm or mucus.
  • A wheezing sound when you cough or breathe.
  • A persistent cough caused by smoking, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
  • A cough that has lasted for longer than a week.
  • A cough accompanied by a fever, rash, or persistent headache.

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