First and foremost, it’s important that all people consult with their physicians or health care providers about any specific questions regarding their health and medications, particularly before taking any action.
Questions of This Season’s Cold and Flu
Q: I am suffering from persistent blocked nose and sneezing. There is a lot of phlegm when I cough.
A: You might want to try some sort of vaporizer and or a saline nasal spray to help clear your nasal passages. The water vapor from a vaporizer should also help with the phlegm, if it is a dry phlegm. Check the color. If it’s clear, white or pale, if an infection, it may be viral, and antibiotics may not be necessary. If it’s green or yellow, brown or bloody, accompanied by any of of these symptoms — chills, fevers, chest pains, or other related health issues — you might need antibiotics. In these cases, contact your doctor for the appropriate medication.
Q: I have a cold and stuffy nose with a dry, sore throat. What can I do or take so I feel better at work during the day?
A: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases list these strategies that may relieve cold symptoms: Get plenty of rest; drink adequate amounts of fluids; Gargle with warm salt water; Use cough drops or throat sprays. The Food and Drug Administration lists these cough and cold medicines that may relieve cold symptoms: Nasal Decongestants–unplug a stuffy nose; Expectorants–loosen mucus so it can be coughed up; Antihistamines–lessen or stop runny noses and sneezing; Pain Relievers–reduce fever, headaches and minor aches and pains. Its important to read labels on all over-the-counter therapies and medications, or should not be used by certain patients. It’s particularly important to consult your physician or health care provider about any specific question regarding their health and medications, particularly before taking any action.
Q: What can I use for a cough caused by post-nasal drip?
A: This is a very good observation. Most people, including health care providers do not realize that most often cough due to colds are caused by post nasal drip. American College of Chest Physicians recommends an antihistamine-decongestant combination to the the first line therapy to treat acute cough due to colds. Studies have shown naproxen, and possibly other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, can also be used to control cough caused by common colds because it may reduce inflammation. Antihistamines such as Claritin (loratidine) and Zyrtec are effective.
Q: What are the signs that you are definitely contagious to others when you are ill?
A: One of the most important issues is what is actually causing the illness. You could be contagious from a cold, and infections of some sort, or other health issue There are a few ways to know for certain whether you are contagious without going to see a doctor. For example, if you have a problem such as an upper respiratory infection, it can be possible to spread the infection-especially if you have a fever. If you feel ill but do not have a fever, you will probably not spread whatever it is that you have to others. The best way to determine what to do is to check your temperature to see if you have a fever.
Q: For the past three days my sinus and allergy has been acting up. My nasal passage has been swollen on the right side, then it switches to the left side, but mostly on the right side. I blow and see yellowish green mucus and sometimes blood. I lose my sense of smell (I lost my sense of smell last summer for about four to five months). What could this be? Is it because of my sinuses? I’ve used Flonase, amoxicillin, and Singulair before. What should I do? What should I try next?
A: Yellow or greenish mucus may be a sign of an infection. Consult your doctor or health care provider for an evaluation and treatment of mucus changes. In general, sinus congestion is best relieved by decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. However, decongestants can often make people jittery. They can also increase heart rates and raise your blood pressure. So, if you have a history of high blood pressure speak to the pharmacist before taking decongestants. I personally like Antihistamines better for symptoms like runny nose or sneezing. Nasal sprays are another option for treating congestions and work quickly to clear nasal passageways. Medicated nasal sprays should not be used for more than 3 days because of the risk of the rebound effect, which can lead to more congestion. I recommend a Saline solution. Although they work slowly, there is not risk of a rebound effect with saline sprays. Always read and follow the complete directions and warnings on over-the-counter (OTC) medications and discuss their use with your health care provider before using them.
Q: What can you take to eliminate bad breath due to sinusitis?
A: Bad breath can be caused by infections, such as sinusitis, because the nasal discharge located at the back of your of your throat can give off a bad smell. To help with this type of bad breath, make sure you talk to your physician and receive treatment if necessary to clear up the infection. Some general recommendations for preventing or improving bad breath include brushing teeth after eating, flossing once daily at the minimum, brushing the tongue with a toothbrush or use a tongue scraper, cleaning dentures thoroughly, drinking enough water to keep the mouth moist, changing toothbrushes every three to four months, visiting your dentist on a regular basis, and chewing fresh parsley or sucking on a mint. Be sure to talk with your health care provider or dentist regarding questions you have about your breath.
I hope this Question and Answer Health blog will help those who have chronic or acute symptoms, and those that will soon be dealing with allergies, as the Spring Season moves closer. If you have any other questions regarding this topic, please feel free to ask, and I will be happy to share what I would use. I am a Doctor of Naturology, not an MD, so I therefore cannot prescribe, I can only suggest, and it must work with your physicians own recommendations. Herbs are medicine, and can be very dangerous when taken or mixed with the wrong OTC medications or prescriptions. Always consult your physician first.
I use EverydayHealth.com for any questions I may have, or the Prescription to Healthy Living book of herbs.
Cheers to your health and happiness!