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Front Page » December 1, 2005 » Focus on Health » Fighting the winter germ bug
Published 3,250 days ago

Fighting the winter germ bug


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By KAREN BASSO
Sun Advocate reporter

Lab technician, Monica Baggs sorts through several blood samples at Castleview Hospital.

Typically, winter is the most common time of year for infectious diseases to appear. Everything from the flu to bronchitis is passed along person to person. But with a few simple steps, Carbon County residents can reduce their chance of contracting a serious illness this winter.

After experiencing a shortage of flu vaccines last year, many local residents are currently concerned about getting the disease this season. Although the vaccine is still available locally, it is recommended that all Carbon citizens practice proper germ killing procedures in order to reduce disease outbreak.

The most important step to stopping a disease from spreading is to thoroughly wash hands. This means use warm water and plenty of soap. Parents should remind their children to wash their hands often, especially after they have coughed or sneezed. An alcohol-based hand cleaner can also aid in killing germs.

It is important that parents also advise their children not to rub their eyes, nose or mouth. According to the Center for Disease Control, germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their face.

By covering the nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing, an ill person can help prevent the spread of disease. Hand washing should also follow.

With so many different diseases circulating, it is often difficult to determine exactly what an ill person is suffering from. As a general rule however, plenty of rest and the consumption of clear liquids is a sure aid in killing germ bugs.

Because many illnesses share some of the same symptoms, it makes it even more difficult for a person to decide what over-the-counter medication may be right for them. Although many medicines that are bought at the store can make an ill person feel better, they typically do not cure the problem. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance when an illness continues for several days and does not improve.

It is also recommended by the University of Utah Health Sciences Center that medical assistance should be offered when the following symptoms are present:

•Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose.

•Blue lips.

•Limp or unable to move

•Hard to wake up, unusually quiet or unresponsive.

•Stiff neck and fever.

•Confused.

•Seizure.

•Cannot swallow.

Chuck Ghirardelli prepares a prescription at Chuck's Pharmacy in Helper. Ghirardelli explained that he has been busy the past several days filling orders for ill customers.

Some common diseases that seem to spread throughout Carbon County each year include flu, cold, bronchitis, ear infections and sore throats. These are all diseases that can become bothersome and many times dangerous to ones health. The University of Utah has provided the following information regarding these diseases and offers advice in treating each illness.

•Ear infection. Some ear infections are caused by viruses while others are caused by bacteria. Symptoms include ear pain (child tugging at ears), reduced hearing, fever and lack of energy or increased fussiness.

University health officials recommend getting extra sleep, drink extra fluids, take a non-prescription pain reliever, avoid smoke, place a warm cloth on the ear and use pain relieving ear drops.

Experts advise that ear infections usually last two to three days but can last for weeks.

The University of Utah medical division suggests seeking medical attention when prolonged dizziness, severe pain, fluid draining from the ear and/or swelling or redness around the ear occurs.

•Influenza. All flu infections are caused by influenza viruses. Common symptoms include muscle aches, fever or chills, headache, cough and lack of energy or increased fussiness in children.

To feel better when suffering from the flu, local residents are advised by University of Utah experts to get extra sleep, drink extra fluids, take a non-prescription pain reliever and take over-the-counter flu remedies. University officials also advise that the flu typically lasts for seven to 10 days.

A doctor should be contacted is symptoms last more than a week without improvement, sudden development of fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit with shaking occurs and food or liquid will not stay down.

•Cold and sinus infections. All colds are caused by a virus. Sinus infections are usually viral, but some are caused by bacteria indicated the University of Utah. Symptoms include stuffy or runny nose with clear, yellow or green mucus, cough, sore throat, headache or body aches and lack of energy or increased fussiness.

Health experts advise to get extra sleep, use a humidifier, drink extra fluids, use saline nose drops, take non-prescription pain reliever and take over-the-counter cold and cough medicine.

According to university health officials, most cold and sinus infection symptoms last about one week for adult and two weeks for children, but a cough may linger for three weeks.

Anyone suffering from a cold or sinus infection should contact a doctor when the feel much worse after starting to feel better, have a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, experiences pain in the ears, teeth or face that lasts for more than one week and is unusually ill.

Specimen swabs wait in a cooler to be processed by a lab technician at Castleview Hospital.

•Soar throat. Most sore throats are caused by a virus. Health officials advise that strep throat is caused by a bacteria however and should be treated with an antibiotic. Symptoms include throat pain, bright red and/or enlarged tonsils, swollen neck glands, pain when swallowing and lack of energy or increased fussiness.

The University of Utah's Health Science Center suggests getting extra sleep, drink extra fluids, take a non-prescription pain reliever, suck on hard candy or throat lozenges, use over-the-counter throat spray and anyone over eight can gargle with warm salt water. The health center recommends about one-quarter teaspoon of salt in a tall glass of water.

Health experts advise that most sore throats last three to five days however, a sore throat with one or more of the following symptoms may mean that the infected person may have strep:

•Tender neck.

•White patches in the throat.

•Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

•Lack of stuffiness or cough.

University officials suggest visiting a doctor when strep is suspected and when there is difficulty breathing, red or sore joints are present and pain becomes significantly worse or lasts more than a week.

•Bronchitis. A virus causes bronchitis. Health experts explain that bronchitis is another name for a cold in the chest. Symptoms include wet cough that may produce yellow or green mucus, dry cough, coughing worse at night or when lying down and other common cold symptoms.

University health experts suggest getting extra sleep, drink extra fluids, use an over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, suck on hard candy or throat lozenges, take a non-prescription pain reliever, use a humidifier and avoid smoke.

According to the health science department at the University of Utah, most symptoms last about one week for adults and two weeks for children, but a dry cough may last for three weeks.

A person who is unusually ill, has a fever that stays above 101 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one to two days, has symptoms that lasts more than two weeks without improvement and has difficulty breathing should consult a physician.

By washing hands often, Carbon County residents can prevent the spread of disease this winter. However, if an illness is contracted, local citizens have plenty of ways to feel better.


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