Health Chats
Is It the Common Cold Or Something More Serious?
Tuesday Mar 17, 2009, 03:00PM - 04:00PM (EST)
Enoch Choi, MDBlank
Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Urgent Care, Palo Alto, CA
Can you tell the difference between the common cold and the flu? How about bacterial infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia? According to the CDC, flu activity is just starting to pick up in the U.S. and could continue into April or May. <br><br> As an Urgent Care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Dr. Enoch Choi sees quite a few cases of these viral and bacterial illnesses and he will be available to answer your questions live at March 17, 2009 3:00PM EST. Join Dr. Choi to learn about the flu vaccine, antivirals, antibiotics, and alternative preventative measures such as humidifiers, saline drops and sprays, herbal supplements, and honey and find out whether these treatments are suitable for children, the elderly and other high-risk groups.
MedHelp:
Welcome to MedHelp's Health Chat with Dr. Enoch Choi. Dr. Choi will be joining us in a few minutes, but if you have any questions, please feel free to start submitting them now.
Enoch Choi, MD:
Hi folks!  It's great to be in sunny San Francisco, yes, sunny if you can believe it!!! I'm here to answer your questions about cold & influenza & pandemic flu!
kittyluv1:
Is Tamiflu considered a good method of controlling flu symptoms?
Enoch Choi, MD:
No, according to the CDCs samples from 98.8% of this year's flu, it's influenza A that is resistant to tamiflu but sensitive (can be stopped by) relenza: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
hapapapa:
When should I stay home from work? (in order not to share my cold/flu with others)
Enoch Choi, MD:
Unfortunately, you're contagious for almost a week prior to exhibiting symptoms, but if you want to help keep others from catching your cold after showing symptoms, cough into your elbow, and wash hands often
latenight:
Does Airborne or Emergen-C or other such supplements help? I have children in elementary school and they keep getting us sick.
Enoch Choi, MD:
Although many believe in vit C (like my own wife) there is not great evidence to support it decreasing cold symptoms.  If you choose to use it, take less than 3 grams a day to avoid the side effect of kidney stones (which hurt more than childbirth)!
kjirsten:
how long do you expect a fever to last with a cold or flu?
Enoch Choi, MD:
Many people will have a fever for the first week or so, which can be controlled by up to three times a day:
Enoch Choi, MD:
tylenol 1 gram
Enoch Choi, MD:
and ibuprofen 800 mg
Enoch Choi, MD:
for adults
Enoch Choi, MD:
for children, it's dosed by weight
kittyluv1:
When is it necessary to use antibiotics?  What symptoms are you looking for?  What diagnostic tests needed prior to giving antibiotics?
Enoch Choi, MD:
Antibiotics are only useful for bacterial infections which are not cold & flu & influenza
Enoch Choi, MD:
bacterial infections are shown by higher fever (>100.4), worsening symptoms such has extreme fatigue & malaise
Enoch Choi, MD:
if you have a cough from bronchitis it will be more likely purulent : pussy, green, brown, sometimes bloody
Enoch Choi, MD:
if you have a cough from pneumonia, as it worsens, you start to breathe faster, and feel short of breath
Enoch Choi, MD:
Diagnostic tests are less helpful in diagnosing bacterial infections than the clinical examination from your doctor
Enoch Choi, MD:
That's why it's so helpful to get examined rather than just get your antibiotics from canada/mexico/your vet
Enoch Choi, MD:
If you have influenza there's a rapid test that can be done in the office which is helpful since Relenza is only helpful in the first 48 hours after having flu symptoms
Enoch Choi, MD:
CalTrain and other public transportation is usually not a big deal since you have to have enough close contact in a enclosed space: so just don't let those large respiratory droplets (goop & snot) get in your eyes/mouth
Enoch Choi, MD:
masks are helpful in blocking large respiratory droplets but not the small ones
hapapapa:
I use public transportation (i.e. CalTrain)...should I wear a mask?
Enoch Choi, MD:
small ones include the ones that carry pandemic flu and bird flu,
Enoch Choi, MD:
those need a special N95 mask
Enoch Choi, MD:
masks are useless after they get soaked with moisture so change to a new one after it gets wet.  the ones with a exhalation valve work better, stay dry longer
Cherie762:
I heard that often when people think they have the flu it's actually food poisoning. Is this true?
Enoch Choi, MD:
Food poisoning usually has nausea/vomiting/diarrhea which is possible but uncommon in influenza
Enoch Choi, MD:
food poisoning usually lasts a very short while (hours) rather than influenza that lasts a week or more
kboomer:
Hi Dr. Choi, what do you recommend for treating canker sores?  I have a really bad one on my tongue...