Ahem! Get your cough, cold, flu tips here!
In the grand scheme of things, we should be grateful for our health. With the number of illnesses (and their harmful companions) that sometimes seems to outnumber the human race, it is comforting to know that we have solutions to some of our health problems. This year, especially, I am thankful for medical expertise, particularly, tips on cough, cold and flu prevention. Yes, this may sound ridiculous, but since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the start of the flu season even earlier than years past, I wanted to make sure I was armed with the right information about what to do when I was faced with a terrible cough, cold or even flu.
I recently sat down with Dr. Zak Zarbock, a Salt Lake City-based pediatrician and founder of Zarbee’s, a line of cough-cold remedies, to talk about all things cold season. He may be a kid’s doctor, but he certainly knows a thing or two on the topic.
HellaWella: What are the biggest myths or misconceptions that you have heard?
Dr. Zarbock: There’s still a lot of confusion, not only among parents, but among physicians and pharmacists … [there are a lot of resources] that tell parents to half the dose of a regular children’s medication of an adult medication. The bottom line is that [doing this] has never shown to be effective, but rather ineffective. So, when you’re experimenting with a dose that a). doesn’t work, or b). is harmful, it’s very dangerous.
HW: Do allergies have an effect on coughs, colds or the flu?
DZ: Allergies certainly can cause congestion that can worsen symptoms. They are very different in terms of their cause. Cold and flu are viral in nature, but if someone has an allergy and a cold at the same time, it can make symptoms worse.
HW: Do you think more people will experience these illnesses this year over last year?
DZ: My personal opinion is that we may actually see better tolerance to the flu this year. The flu shot contains the same three strains that were used in last year’s shot, so I think there hopefully will be some crossover. [Medical experts] are predicting the same strains to be prevalent, so those who received flu shots last year and not this year hopefully will see the same benefit, but it’s hard to tell!
HW: Does age have any influence on why we get sick?
DZ: Age and stresses in life can affect the immune system. [For example,] children have a less mature immune system; they haven’t been exposed to the number of viruses or like viruses that adults have. A parent may experience symptoms that only last a few days, whereas a child will have symptoms that last a few weeks because their body doesn’t recognize it. Certainly new environments also could influence it.
HW: Are there any remedy recommendations you typically make?
DZ: I’ve found a lot of help with saline sprays and anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, can be helpful to decrease inflammation. Hydration is obviously key, just to make sure that mucus membranes have a lot of moisture, especially in the winter months when we have drying of the airways and sinuses that can make them more prone to infection.
For more information on Dr. Zak Zarbock, visit Zarbees.com.