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The Truth about the Common Cold

How long can cold germs live on bathroom sink?

 

The cold germs can live on bathroom sink for 3 hours. They can also survive for that long on things like your kitchen counter and that doorknob your preschooler just touched after wiping his nose without a tissue. If someone in your house has a cold, wipe surfaces with a virus-killing disinfectant.

 

True or False: By the time you have cold symptoms, you are not contagious any more  

True, Colds spread most easily before your symptoms start and during the first 2-4 days after they begin. You don’t have to hide in a bubble, but try to avoid close contact with others when you’re sick, and wash your hands frequently. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough — or use the crook of your elbow. (You don’t usually touch people or objects with your elbow, so you’re less likely to spread germs than if you cover your mouth with your bare hand.)

 

What causes cold?

The answer is Viruses. There are more than 200 that make you sick, and the rhinovirus is the most common. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses. They’re designed to fight bacteria. Using them to treat a cold not only doesn’t help, it can be hazardous.

 

True or False: If you go out with wet hair when it’s chilly, you will probably catch a cold    

False, Don’t go out with that wet head, you’ll catch your death of cold!” Despite your mom’s warnings, it doesn’t put you at greater risk. You might feel chilled and uncomfortable, but colds are spread by germs, not the temperature

 

People catch more colds in winter because you spend more time indoors

Colds are spread by close contact, and in the winter we spend a lot more time inside, keeping warm. That means we’re more exposed to other people — and their germs. Winter air is also much drier than the air in spring and summer, and cold viruses tend to thrive in low humidity. (Running a humidifier in your bedroom during the coldest winter months can help with cold symptoms.)

 

True or False: Vitamin C helps prevent catching a cold or shortens a cold if you already have one  

Some people swear by vitamin C. But there is very little proof that vitamin C has any effect on the average person with a common cold. Studies have shown that very high doses of vitamin C may reduce your chance of getting a cold, but only under certain circumstances. High doses of vitamin C can hurt the kidneys and can cause nausea and diarrhea.

Echinacea is one of the best-selling herbal products in the U.S., but many researchers believe there is no proof that it has a benefit for people with colds.

 

 

When your preschooler has a cold, the best treatment is rest and lots of fluids

The best remedy for him is an old-fashioned one: Stay in bed and get plenty to drink. Don’t give over-the-counter cold and cough medications to children under age 4. There’s no evidence that these medicines help children. Some believe the possible benefits are not worth the risk.

 

Grandma was right, chicken soup can help relieve a cold.

It helps break up your stuffy nose. Some studies suggest that it curbs the inflammation that leads to a sore throat. And when you’re feeling run-down, the combination of lean protein and vegetables can help boost your strength to fight off illness.

 

The best way to prevent a cold is by Wash hands thoroughly and regularly

Here’s how to do it right: Wet your hands first, then apply soap, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. That’s how long it takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Hand sanitizers can also be a good supplement to handwashing.

 

True or False: Even if your child seems to get a cold every month, it’s probably not a sign of a more serious problem.

True, Kids get between 6 and 10 colds every year — including spring and summer — so it’s not unusual for your child to be sniffling and sneezing every other month, or even more often. If he’s in day care, preschool, or another setting where he spends a lot of time with other kids, he’ll get exposed to lots of germs.

 

True or False: It’s probably the flu not just a cold if you have a high fever.

Some people do run a slight fever along with a cold, but if you have a high temperature it’s more likely the flu or a complication. Fatigue, while more common with the flu, also happens with colds.

 

Stressed out? You are more likely to catch a cold.

It’s not just your yoga teacher trying to persuade you to take another class: Studies show that people are more likely to catch a cold when they’re under stress. You may be more vulnerable to getting sick if you face stress that lasts more than 1 month, like trouble at work or problems in your family relationships.

 

True or False: If you have a runny nose, green-tinged mucus means nothing, it is normal    

Mucus from a runny nose often changes color during a cold, sometimes several times. It’s usually clear at first and then changes to a white or yellowish color as your immune system fights back. Green-tinged mucus means the bacteria that normally live in your nose are growing back. All of this is normal and shouldn’t cause you to panic.

 

True or False: The flu vaccine also works for colds  

It only protects you from the virus that causes the flu. Scientists are trying to create a vaccine for the common cold, but it’s a tough job because there are hundreds of viruses that can cause one. It probably will be many years before any vaccine is effective against colds.

 

WebMD



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Home care clients who require urgent care need an alternative to the Emergency Department

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of Canadians receiving some form of home care grew by 55 per cent, to 1.4 million. And as our population continues to age, more and more Canadians expect that care at home will be a viable option. Since the beginning of many coordinated home care programs in the late 1980s home care clients have changed. They are sicker, frailer, more acute, and more complex. The challenge is that in spite of the growth in numbers and increasing complexity and acuity, home care programs are having to do more with less. Demand for home care is increasing, but funding has not kept pace. Although home care programs are seeing more clients who are sicker, the volume of service per client is shrinking in order to keep up with this growing demand.  If home care is to be sustainable in this environment, we need new and innovative options to adequately address care needs in the community.

Home care programs offer sophisticated care and effectively manage complex conditions and multiple chronic conditions. However, there are times where a more acute event, a decrease in health status, or a need for more intensive observation or intervention is required. Interventions that are not required, nor are they best provided, in an acute care hospital or busy emergency department. Yet because we do not currently have an integrated health care system, if someone currently requires more urgent intervention for a condition that is not life threatening, there is little option other than going to an emergency department.

A promising alternative to the current situation is a transitional or halfway hospital. A transitional hospital could serve a population in a geographic area in an integrated manner when they are already a part of a home care program. A home care client may have fluctuating levels of health and need an urgent intervention, but not necessarily from an acute care hospital. For example, a frail elderly person who suffers from a short-term illness like a virus that creates a state of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance that cannot be fully managed at home and requires a short term intervention. There are a myriad of other health concerns that are urgent – but not emergencies -, that lead home care clients to seek hospital care because there are no intermediary options.

This kind of solution exists in many parts of Sweden. A transitional short stay (24-72 hours) unit designated just for home care clients—for clients known to their team and connected to their team – a truly integrated system. Such an option could be offered in Canada. There would of course be parameters around the type of concerns that could be seen and how many over-night stays could be accommodated. In a transitional, or half way hospital, the services provided would be much less intensive than the hospital would provide, but more intensive than home care can provide. Most often the individual might require frequent intervention for a few days such as IV antibiotics, comprehensive wound care, or monitoring of a frail elderly person for a few days. Home care provides regular but episodic care whereas in a transitional hospital care would be more regular and could support integrated care; at least for home care clients. Monitoring and decision making by a health care professional such as physicians or nurses or more frequent observation by a regulated professional would be possible. This level of care would be less expensive than occupying space in an emergency department or in an acute care hospital and being seen by member of the health care team would be expedited because the client is already known to the team. This would be the case in an integrated system.

In Canada, this level of care is only available in acute care hospitals. In many cases clients with complex chronic conditions recognize a problem they are experiencing that requires intervention. It is time for some creative problem solving and decision making if we hope to create a sustainable health care system into the future. . It is time to stop doing things the same old way in home care programs—after 30 odd years it is time for a change.

Kimberly D. Fraser is a professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta.

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