Benefits of a fever, dangerous fever, cold and flu symptoms, treating cold and flu, washing hands

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Furci...that a fever is a natural and beneficial function of your body to fight off invading organisms when the primary line of defense, your immune system, fails? So many people misunderstand fever and believe it to be dangerous. This is primarily due to our "take a pill for everything society" created by physicians and big pharma. Your body raises its temperature because most infectious organisms cannot survive this environment; the ideal temperature for fighting infections is between 102 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The problem is, just as our bodies begin doing what's needed to eradicate the infection, we self-medicate with (or worse yet, give our children) anti-pyretic drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin by themselves or in combination.

It's very important to think of a fever as a healing response. And contrary to popular belief, the best action is almost always little or no action. Rather than trying to lower a fever through medication, try to work through it and allow it to run its course. To support a fever, Colleen Huber and other naturopathic physicians, recommend consuming liquids such as broths and water until the fever breaks. The body slows down the movement of food in the gut (peristalsis), so avoid solid food. Another, and perhaps most important recommendation to support a fever, is rest. Activity uses the body's essential energy needed to fight invading organisms, and hinders the immune function.

The benefits of a fever:

  • Directly kills invading organisms through heat.
  • Stimulates antibody production more specific to the infection than any antibiotic.
  • More interferon is produced to block the spread of viruses to healthy cells.
  • Stimulates production white blood cells which mobilize and attack invaders.

When to seek medical attention for a fever:

  • Anyone with a temperature above 104.5 degrees F.
  • Infants younger than 1 month old, with a temperature above 100.4 degrees F. Seek care right away.
  • Infants from 1 to 3 months old, with a temperature above 100.4 degrees F, if they appear ill.
  • Children between 3 and 36-months old, with a temperature above 102.2 degrees F, if they appear ill.
Ed Downs

For anyone not in the above categories, employ rest and fluids to support the fever and allow it to do its job.

...there are similarities between cold and flu symptoms, and it's impossible to distinguish between the two conclusively without lab tests? It's also true that once you have either one, there's nothing you should or can do to get rid of them.

Onset of symptoms Appear gradually Can appear suddenly within 3 to 6 hours
Fever Rare Usually present, 100 to 102 degrees F. Lasts 3 to 4 days
Fatigue Mild Moderate to severe.
Can last 2 to 3 weeks
Chills Uncommon Fairly common
Aches Slight Often severe
Coughing Productive cough, hacking Dry, unproductive cough
Sneezing Common Uncommon
Stuffy nose Common Uncommon
Sore throat Common Uncommon
Headache Uncommon Common
Complications Nothing serious Bronchitis, pneumonia

Furci...there are natural proven ways to prevent a cold or flu? Wash your hands.The most common way a cold or flu virus is obtained is by touching your nose, eyes or mouth after your hands have been contaminated. The importance of washing your hands cannot be overstated, and is our number one defense in stopping the spread of infections and illness.

Wash your hands:

  • Before you eat
  • Before touching your face
  • After you use the bathroom
  • Before and after you prepare food
  • After touching/petting an animal, a leash, or an animal toy
  • Before inserting or removing contact lenses
  • Frequently!

Do not cough and sneeze in your hands. Turn your head and cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or the inside of your elbow and not in your hands.

Avoid close contact. When you're sick or others around you are sick, try not to expose yourself or others to germs. If you are sick do not go to school, work or any other places where many people could get exposed.

Don't share food, drinks, lipstick, lip balm or toothpaste. Germs can carry from one person to the other easily. Don't even share these items with family members.

Practice good lifestyle habits:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Manage your stress
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Drink plenty of liquids

Despite strides in science, disinfectant sprays and anti-bacterial products, your best defense against infectious disease is simply washing your hands with ordinary soap. Unfortunately, many don't wash their hands enough or if they do, they're not doing it properly.

Hand Washing 101:

  • Use lukewarm water and lather your hands with ordinary soap. Anti bacterial soap is not necessary, and simply rinsing your hands under running water is useless. Cold water is not as effective; avoid hot water because it will dry the skin too much.
  • Rub your hands together making sure to get the entire surface of your hands and fingers. Intertwine your fingers and don't forget the back of your hands and around your finger nails.
  • Wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well. Try to let the water run from your wrist down off your fingertips.
  • Dry your hands with a clean paper towel or air dry. Use a paper towel to turn the faucet off. Remember -- you turned it on with dirty hands. should exercise with a cold? Dr. Leonard Kaminsky and other researchers at Ball State University encourage people to exercise when they have colds as long as the symptoms are above the neck. They are more cautious with the types of colds that produce symptoms below the neck -- like chest congestion and muscle aches.

Two studies, performed more than a decade ago and reported in the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports Medicine" showed surprising results. The researchers found no difference in symptoms between those who exercised and those who didn't; there was no difference between maximum exercise performance between the groups; there was no difference in recovery time from colds.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998

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