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Catching a cold

Advice from Dr. Zhukova
Winter always brings the chance of catching a cold. What can we do to prevent this happening? 

I. Sevastianov, Minsk

On feeling the first symptoms (general malaise, cough, rhinitis, and, sometimes, a higher temperature), go to bed for a few days, keep warm and save your energy, to allow your body to fight the virus.

Keep an eye on your temperature. While below 38°С, don’t bother to take medication to lower a fever (such as ibuprofen or paracetamol). Moreover, even if your temperature does rise, avoid aspirin, which most doctors warn can bring complications.

Drink plenty of liquids: hot tea, dog rose tincture, cranberry juice or warm milk, to ‘wash away’ viruses and their toxins. Wear cotton underwear and layer your warm clothes, to stay comfortable.

If you are suffering with rhinitis, use an extra pillow to elevate your head and aid the flow of mucus, as well as easing your desire to cough.

Inhaling essential oils can both treat and prevent a cold or flu, having anti-inflammatory and antiseptic powers, helping with acute respiratory infection. Juniper, eucalyptus, carnation and mint oils are all recommended, and can be combined for maximum effect. Various medicines already contain them.

If you lose your appetite, don’t force yourself to eat. Cultured milk products such as kefir, sour cream and boiled fermented milk are good choices, as they contain helpful bacteria. Meanwhile, you can boost your immune system with garlic, onions and fresh lard. Unlike raw onions, cooked onions can be eaten in any quantity.

Don’t restrain a cough with pills, as the cough is helping you to clear your lungs and bronchial tubes of mucus. Rather, take expectorants containing mucaltinum, liquorice root or plantain.

Nerve-point massage can help relieve pressure from sinus pain: press either side of the top of your nose, as well as under your nose, and in the centre of your chin. In order to lower fever, press directly under your elbow joint. If you have a headache, squeeze just above the sore area between thumb and forefinger.

If your cold lasts for more than a week, see your doctor for advice on medication to ease symptoms.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) has proven reliable in vaccinating against the flu virus. WHO also recommends Zanamivir (Relenza) and CIS doctors tend to recommend Arbidol, in spite of it being of unproven efficiency, and unrecognised by WHO as a viricide.

Treatment of cases of heavy or moderate severity, with respiratory distress, may need antibiotics, to avoid secondary bacterial infection leading to pneumonia. If you believe that respiratory distress is occurring, do phone for emergency medical help, as it may lead to lack of oxygen to the brain. You may experience shortness of breath, cyanosis (blue discoloration of the skin), dizziness, tinted sputum, low blood pressure, and/or chest pain.

Visit your local doctor (at your nearby polyclinic) if a high temperature lasts more than three days or if your condition worsens after appearing to improve. 

By Tatiana Zhukova
Doctor of higher category,
M.D., Ph.D.

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