Posts Tagged ‘flu’

Lifestyle Changes For Preventing Cancer

April 7, 2012

Dr. David Agus, an oncologist at the University of Southern California, wrote a book, The End of Illness, which offers lifestyle changes that may help prevent cancer. This article will review ten of his suggestions.

1. Keep a predictable schedule. Try to eat, sleep and exercise about the same time every day including weekends. Regularity of sleep is more important than total hours slept.

2. Move frequently and avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a higher risk of early death and many diseases. You should try to aim for one hour of moderate exercise a day. If you have a sedentary job you can lift small weights, 2.5 pounds, at your desk or while talking on the phone using a headset. You will learn the definition of multitasking when talking and exercising at the same time.

3. Stop using vitamins and supplements. Unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or are pregnant, you can ditch the dozens of vitamins and supplements that so many Americans use every day. Many well controlled studies have pointed out that vitamins have no benefit and even may be harmful. For example, vitamin E raises the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent in healthy men. (Study from Journal of American Medical Association in 2011)

4. Get an annual flu shot. Getting the flu is a stress on the immune system. Getting a flu shot helps dampen the harsh immune response if you get the flu.

5. Discuss use of daily aspirin with your doctor. Low dose aspirin or one baby aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even some cancers.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. High heel shoes contribute to poor posture and back pain. Also comfortable shoes will help you move and walk more and longer distances.

7. Conduct a medications inventory. At least once a year go over your medication list with your doctor and find out which ones may cause side effects or drug-drug interactions and which ones are no longer necessary. As a whole we are an over-medicated society and you can often decrease your medications with a discussion with your doctor.

8. Check out healthy lifestyle incentives. Your employer may reduce your health insurance premiums if you commit to a smoking cessation program. Some employers are paying some or all of the cost of a gym membership.

9. Look to your doctor as a partner. Ask your doctor what he\she is doing to stay current on the latest medical advances. Ask how many hours of continuing medical education they receive each year (minimum is 20 hours). Feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any topic. If you can’t, find a new doctor.

10. Keep your own medical records. Keep a copy of your lab tests, x-ray reports, and any hospital discharge summaries. Your physician will make this available to you at no cost. Now if you go to another doctor or are in another city and need medical care, you have that information available which will help provide continuity of medical care. Savvy patients are storing this data online which means less paper and instant access on a 24\7\365 basis.

Bottom Line: Very little can be done to change your genetic predisposition to cancer or to change the toxins in the air or water. But there’s a lot you can do with practicing healthy lifestyles, exercising regularly, and being proactive about your medical care by developing a partnership with your doctor.

Chicken Soup For The Soul and For the Cold-Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

February 26, 2012

It’s no wonder natural cold and flu remedies are popular — modern medicine has yet to offer a cure for these age-old ailments. While some antiviral drugs can prevent and shorten the flu’s duration, most medications only offer temporary relief of symptoms. Many natural remedies provide temporary relief as well, and a few may actually help you get better. This blog will discuss the most common natural remedies which are available at most health food stores and pharmacies.

Echinacea is an herbal supplement that is believed to boost the immune system to help fight infections. But it’s unclear whether this boost helps fight off colds or flu. Some researchers have reported no benefits, but at least one recent study paints a more positive picture. Patients who took echinacea shortened their colds by an average of 1.4 days. Still, some physicians remain skeptical, and it’s best to check with a doctor before trying this or other herbal remedies
Some studies show that zinc appears to have antiviral properties. There is some evidence the mineral may prevent the formation of certain proteins that cold viruses use to reproduce themselves. While zinc does not appear to help prevent colds, some research suggests it may help shorten cold symptom duration and reduce the severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms. The FDA recommends against using zinc nasal products for colds because of reports of permanent loss of smell.

Vitamin C
The cold-fighting prowess of vitamin C remains uncertain. Some studies suggest it can help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. In one study, participants who were exposed to extreme physical stress and cold weather — and who took vitamin C — were 50% less likely to get a cold. To prevent side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach upset, the maximum daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 2,000 milligrams.

Chicken Soup
Grandma was onto something. Chicken soup may help cold symptoms in more than one way. Inhaling the steam can ease nasal congestion. Sipping spoonfuls of fluid can help avoid dehydration. And some advocates say the soup may soothe inflammation. Researchers have found chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties in the lab, though it’s unclear whether this effect translates to real-world colds. But as my wise Jewish mother would say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”

Hot Tea
Drinking hot tea offers some of the same benefits as chicken soup. Inhaling the steam relieves congestion, while swallowing the fluid soothes the throat and keeps you hydrated. Black and green teas have the added bonus of being loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, which may fight colds.

Hot Toddy
The hot toddy is an age-old nighttime cold remedy probably having its beginning during the time of the Civil War. Since you won’t want to drink black tea before bed, make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. This mixture may ease congestion, soothe the throat and help you sleep. Limit yourself to one hot toddy. Too much alcohol can affect the immune system.

Garlic has long been touted for legendary germ-fighting abilities. And it is still being promoted as a health food with medicinal properties. Many of the claims surrounding it are not backed by enough research, yet garlic is very nutritious. In addition, it can help spice up your meals when a stuffy nose makes everything taste bland.

For a heavy dose of steam, use a room humidifier — or simply sit in the bathroom with the door shut and a hot shower running. Breathing in steam can break up congestion in the nasal passages, offering relief from a stuffy or runny nose.

Saline Drops
Dripping saltwater into the nose can thin out nasal secretions and help remove excess mucus, while reducing congestion. Try over-the-counter saline drops, or make your own by mixing 8 ounces of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Use a bulb syringe to squirt the mixture into one nostril while holding the other one closed. Repeat 2-3 times and then do the other side.

Menthol Ointment
Days of wiping and blowing your nose can leave the skin around your nostrils sore and irritated. A simple remedy is to dab a menthol-infused ointment under, but not in, the nose. Menthol has mild numbing agents that can relieve the pain of raw skin. As an added benefit, breathing in the medicated vapors that contain menthol or camphor may help open clogged passages and relieve symptoms of congestion. Use only in children over 2 years of age.

Saltwater Gargle
For a sore throat, the traditional saltwater gargle may have some merit. Gargling warm water with a teaspoon of salt four times daily may help keep a scratchy throat moist.

Nasal Strips
Another strategy for relieving nighttime congestion is to try over-the-counter nasal strips. These are strips of tape worn on the bridge of the nose to open the nasal passages. While they can’t unclog the nose, they do increase the nasal openings and allow for improved airflow.

Let Your Fever Work
A fever is the original natural remedy. The rise in temperature actively fights colds and flu by making your body inhospitable for germs. Endure a moderate fever for a couple of days to get better faster. Just be sure to stay well hydrated. Call your doctor right away if the fever is over 104, unless it comes down quickly with treatment. In infants 3 months or younger call your doctor for any fever greater than 100.4. Children with a fever of less than 102 usually don’t require treatment unless they’re uncomfortable.

Bed Rest
With our busy lives, most of us loathe to spend a day or two under the covers. But getting plenty of rest lets your body direct more energy to fighting off germs. Staying warm is also important, so tuck yourself in and give your immune cells a leg up in their noble battle.

Bottom Line: Okay, these remedies aren’t guaranteed to solve all of your flu or cold symptoms. However, there may be weak scientific evidence that they do help reduce the symptoms of the flu or cold.