Viral vs. Bacterial Infections part 2

So we left off after talking about antibiotic resistance. Now, we need to talk about what you can do to help you feel better (and at least be able to work) when you have a virus.

If you get a stomach “bug” with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, the good thing is that those usually get better after 24-48 hours. But the bad thing is that during those 24-48 hours, you feel miserable. When you are sick, it’s important to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. If you don’t feel like drinking water, use ice chips instead. You can buy medicine like Pepto Bismal or Kaopectate to help with the diarrhea, and your medical provider can give you something for the nausea and vomiting, if you need it. If you prefer more “natural” remedies, ginger helps with nausea, and plain yogurt can help with diarrhea.

If you do get these stomach problems, it’s important to see your medical provider if: you don’t get better after 3-4 days, you get a fever that won’t go away, or you recently returned from an international trip. Those could all be signs of something more serious than a virus.

For colds, there are a lot of different things you can do to help you feel better. The “old-fashioned” things like Vicks Vaporub, tea with honey for a cough, chicken noodle soup, and using a humidifier or vaporizer can help a lot. There are different nose sprays you can use for congestion, and allergy medicine like Loratadine can help with a runny nose and sinus drainage. The cough medicines that you can buy may help a little, but usually work better at night. Tylenol helps with a sore throat or muscle aches. And, like always, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids (water, not soda!).   If you do smoke, when you have a cold is the perfect time to quit. If you are not even a little better after a week, or if you feel like you are getting worse, it’s important to go ahead and see your medical provider.

Make sure that everyone in your family gets their flu shot. This is really important, because the flu is caused by a virus, so it cannot be treated with antibiotics like penicillin. Now, studies have shown that even if you have a mild allergy to eggs, it’s safe for you to get the vaccine. And you CANNOT get the flu from the flu shot.

My sister always asks me why no one has found a “cure” for the common cold. Well, the problem is that colds are, unfortunately, caused by a lot of different viruses that change rapidly. Because of this, we cannot develop a vaccine since by the time we do, it would be no longer useful.