HealthBeat: The Flu

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Even though this is only the first week of winter, Americans are already dealing with what experts are calling the worst flu seasons in thirty years.

While flu advisories have been widely publicized, suffering from the common cold can be equally debilitating. This year one billion colds are expected to strike millions of Americans. One of the leading causes of infection is improper hand washing.

According to research conducted by the University of Arizona at Tucson, only about 60 percent of people wash their hands after using a public restroom and only 15 percent (less than one in five people) will effectively eliminate germs, Since cold sufferers literally hand over the rhinovirus, it makes sense to wash hands often and thoroughly. In addition, recent clinical evidence shows that when zinc-gluconate, the active ingredient in over-the-counter products such as Zicam Cold Remedy, is used within the first 24 to 48 hours after the onset of cold symptoms, it can effectively and safely shorten the duration and severity of the illness. Products like Zicam Cold Remedy treat the cold itself rather than just easing the symptoms.

Zinc-gluconate also addresses the problem of overuse of antibiotics. It's often difficult for doctors to diagnose the difference between a simple cold and a bacterial infection based solely on symptoms. This not only leads to the over prescribing of antibiotics, but can also result in new strains of antibiotic-resistant viruses, making the medicine ineffective for when it's truly needed.

More doctors are hoping to decrease America's dependence on antibiotics for treating the virus that causes the common cold. Using products like Zicam and washing your hands frequently should be your first step in fighting the battle against the common cold.

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