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.
Enoch Choi, MD:
cancer sores are 'aphthous ulcers' which are common in colds.  they get better on their own, but if you want it to go away faster, come see me and i'll burn the base of it with silver nitrate to help it get better faster.  bad aphthous ulcers can benefit from swish & swallow steroids
mamafg:
Hello. With all the controversies with children’s cold medicines, what is ok to give your children these days to help with the symptoms of their colds/flu’s?
Enoch Choi, MD:
It's important to use supportive treatments in children up to age 2 according to the AAP.  those include nasal salt water, humidifiers, tylenol and ibuprofen (advil/motrin).  Over age 2 the over the counter remedies may help, but there's no good evidence that they do
Enoch Choi, MD:
the reason the AAP came out against OTC for younger than 2 is deaths from overdosing by combining many multi-symptom remedies
mamaof2boys0608:
I don't know if I have the cold or something else. My right ear has pressure, I have a productive cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache and pressure all throughout my head. I went to the doctor and well... they are Air Force doctors and they said it was a cold and my right ear drum looks big and shiny, but I am coughing up phlegm and feel congested in my chest. I told the doc all of this and he just sent me home and told me to take Tylenol. I feel like it's more than just a cold! What do you think it might be?
Enoch Choi, MD:
The air force docs are probably right, tylenol would help, as well as ibuprofen, and nasal saline.  if your ear were to become infected you would have worsening pain and fever
kittyluv1:
What are the best ways of preventing transmission to close family members who live with you?
Enoch Choi, MD:
cough into elbow, wear a mask, wash hands often, cuddle with them after you're ill, blow kisses rather than physical affection
kittyluv1:
When might it be necessary to obtain a chest x-ray?
Enoch Choi, MD:
CXR is for determining if you have pneumonia, which is evidenced by rapid rate of breathing, productive cough, feeling worse and worse
Enoch Choi, MD:
if it's really bad sometimes fluid accumulates in the space between the lung and lining of lung (effusion) which can also be seen on CXR
Cherie762:
When one has the flu, is it best to not treat diarrhea and vomiting for a day or two to get the toxins out of your system?
Enoch Choi, MD:
It's very important to treat diarrhea & vomiting by replacing wtih oral fluids, preferably rehydration solutions like pedialyte.  second best is gatorade/powerade/propel but those have 1/2 as much salt/sugar as you need
Enoch Choi, MD:
EMPASIZE:  treat it immediately with rehydration
blue_plate_special:
How big a problem is the flu? How many people a year die from it?
Enoch Choi, MD:
it depends on the year, this year is not so bad, but in very bad years thousands can die.  that's why it's so important to get your flu shot
Enoch Choi, MD:
which can still be effective this year, since it juts takes a week to become immune after your shot, and there's a lot of flu still out there
Enoch Choi, MD:
it's a very late flu season this year, fortunately, only 2/3 as bad as last year, about as bad as 2 years ago
sfkaos:
Is it true that you could catch a cold if you go to sleep with wet hair?
Enoch Choi, MD:
you'll have a cold head, but that's about it
SeatownHero:
Does Zycam (or other like products) really work to reduce the duration of a cold?
Enoch Choi, MD:
no, and worse yet, zycam has rare side effects of permanent taste changes (and sometimes loss)
mellowgirl:
Thanks for your time Dr Choi.  I just had my flu shot with thermosol in it and I am pregnant. Are flu shots safe with thermosol in it?
Enoch Choi, MD:
flu shots are safe with thimerisol.  the recent federal grand jury ruled against any relationship between thimerisol and autism
gildafarvid:
hi
Enoch Choi, MD:
hi gilda, you singing "american boy" with me tomorrow night?
mamafg:
Are there any proven studies that show that natural aids work better to suppress symptoms of the cold or flu, rather than antibiotics from the doctors?
Enoch Choi, MD:
no proven studies, but an interesting meta-analysis shows benefit from geranium extract
Enoch Choi, MD:
2 days less symptoms if taken within first 5 days
gildafarvid:
Does lack of sleep really hurt you in regards to it lowering your immune system and making you more likely to get sick?
Enoch Choi, MD:
Gilda, you should sleep more, and then you wouldn't get sick so often and have to see me in clinic!
Enoch Choi, MD:
Seriously, rest helps a lot!