Q & A for healthy living

By defaultuser
February 26, 2004

KRT Campus

Q: What exactly is a cold, anyway?

A: The common cold is a viral infection of the lining of the nose, sinuses, throat and airways.An estimated 150 viruses can cause a cold.

The first symptoms of a cold nose or throat discomfort usually start within one to three days after infection.

Then the real misery begins. Sneezing. Runny nose. Cough. Thick, yellowish-green mucus.

Most colds last about 10 days, though symptoms have been known to linger for as long as three weeks during recent cold seasons, Dr. Andu Mader, director of diagnostic referral services in the Department of Pediatrics at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio, said.

Q: How are colds spread?

A: The viruses that cause the common cold are spread through contact with the secretions from an infected person.

“Most of the times, when you get a cold it’s when you touch someone else,” Dr. James Tan, chairman of the Department of Medicine for Summa Health System in Akron said, Ohio.

Hand-washing is the best prevention, Tan said. When soap and water isn’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers also are effective, studies have shown.

Q: Are a cold and the flu the same?

A: They’re both caused by viruses, but they have different symptoms.

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, tends to have symptoms that hit people hard and fast.People with the flu get fevers as high a 103 degrees.

Other flu symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, cough, respiratory symptoms and tender lymph nodes.

Q: Are there any natural remedies that can reduce the chances of getting a cold or ease symptoms once someone gets a cold?

A: The mainstream medical community remains skeptical about the effectiveness of alternative treatments. Some alternative therapies, however, do have scientific studies to back back up their claims.

Echinachea has been shown in some clinical trials to shorten a cold, Brown said.

“It probably needs to be taken within the first 24 to 48 hours within feeling the symptoms of the common cold,” he said.

Zinc lozenges and nasal sprays also have been shown in some studies to decrease the symptoms and duration of a cold, but those results are questionable, Brown said.

Like echinachea, zinc must be taken as soon as people suspect they have a cold.

Q. So why even eat these low-fat products and nonfat products?

A. Some of them can be useful in a healthy diet. Not all reduced-fat products are alike. Fat-free and reduced-fat milk, for example, can be a daily part of a healthy diet since milk is an important source of calcium. Reduced-fat salad dressings, sauces and cheese products can be used in moderation as substitutes for full-fat versions.

Q. How is the rise of obesity linked to our increased consumption of low-fat and nonfat


A. The food industry created low-fat and nonfat foods in response to a federal goal for 2000 of producing more than 5,000 reduced-fat processed food products by 1998. Many Americans consumed these products with the intent of eating healthier and cutting intake.

The trouble is that they ate large quantities of these foods, some of which had more calories than full-fat foods. Some people were eating less fat, but taking in more calories.

Excess consumption of calories is a significant factor in obesity.

Weight-loss efforts for good health involve consuming less fat and calories

Posted to the web by: Cecelia Francisco

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