Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 25th 2016 Contents B34
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 25, 2016
Wash your hands---lots! Doctors religiously wash
their hands to prevent infection. "I wash my hands
or use a hand sanitizer before and after every
patient," says Christopher Tolcher, MD, a paedia-
trician in the Los Angeles area. "I probably wash
my hands 40 to 50 times a day."
What to use? Warm water and soap will kill the
germs, but be sure you don t rush. "I try to wash
for 20 second---sing Happy Birthday to myself twice,"
says Nancy Hughes, a nurse in Maryland.
Keep hands away from nose and mouth
Hands are germ factories, so keep them away from
your nose and mouth. Also keep them away from
your food during cold and flu season. "I try to bring
something I can eat with a spoon or fork, rather than
a sandwich I have to handle," says Sandra Fryhofer,
a general internist in Atlanta. "If you re going to eat
a sandwich, put a tissue or paper towel around it."
Wipe all surfaces---including
doorknobs, computer keyboards
"Computer keyboards, telephones, doorknobs,
pens that are given to you when you sign for a credit
card purchase or in a doctor s office---all of these are
surfaces that have great potential for harbouring
germs," says Neil Schachter, professor of medicine
at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
"I make it a point of carrying around little bottles
of alcohol-based cleansers, and I use them liberally
after I suspect that I ve been exposed," he says.
Exercise for immunity
A jog around the block a few times a week not
only can do wonders for your physique---it also might
prevent you from getting sick. "I try to get 20 to 30
minutes of cardio every morning before I go to work,"
Fryhofer says. "There s something about making your
heart pump that s good for your body. It strengthens
your heart and strengthens your immune system."
The research seems to agree---one study found that
postmenopausal women who exercised for a year
had one-third the colds of women who didn t work
Herbal medicine, zinc
Some doctors say they do find relief from natural
remedies, including echinacea and goldenseal which
help boost the immune system and fight off microbes.
Others take zinc.
"Sometimes when I have been exposed to someone
who has a very obvious cold or the flu, or if I m
feeling just a little bit off, I ll take a zinc lozenge,"
Schachter says. "That s my protective shield." He
says he limits himself to one or two a day, because
they can cause an upset stomach and dry mouth.
Does zinc actually work? Some studies find it may
shorten the duration and reduce the severity of colds,
while others have found the evidence isn t strong
enough yet to recommend it.
Does vitamin C help colds?
The jury is out. Although experts do not recom-
mend upping your dosage, some say it may help
ward off germs if you ve been exposed to physical
or environmental stress. Even so, some people swear
by it. "I have some vitamin C in my diet every day,
but I bump the dose up when I get sick," Richter
says. "Generally it will reduce the length of the symp-
toms by at least a day or two and also will help with
the severity," she says. An extra 500 milligrams a day
is about all you need.
Salt solution & chicken soup
Doctors say they use over-the-counter deconges-
tants and antihistamines only when their symptoms
are severe, and even then only sparingly. Many prefer
natural alternatives, such as saline (salt and water)
solution, which helps clear out nasal mucous. "One
time when I had a cold I used it 18 times in one day,"
says Marcella Bothwell, MD, FAAP, a paediatric oto-
laryngologist at Rady Children s Hospital in San
Diego. "You won t get side effects from saline. Your
body is mostly water, so you re just putting into it
what s already there."
Grandma s good old-fashioned chicken soup is also
good. "I ve enjoyed chicken soup for years," says
Schachter. "The vapour alone clears nasal passages
and relieves the throbbing in the sinuses." Recently
researchers have discovered what grandmothers have
suspected all along--- that the ingredients in chicken
soup (including the chicken stock, carrot, onion, and
celery) might actually have a medicinal effect on the
body s immune system, easing the inflammation caused
by cold viruses. (www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu)
How doctors avoid the flu
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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