the VOA Special English Health Report.
and winter are cold and flu season -- when people are most likely to catch the
viruses that cause influenza and the common cold.
old advice true that dressing warmly will help prevent a cold? Or if you do get
sick, should you follow the old saying, "Feed a cold and starve a
about that fever? Should you take medication to reduce your temperature, or is
it better to let the body treat the infection itself?
seems to have an answer. But how much value is there in popular wisdom?
Alvin Nelson El Amin knows a lot about cold and flu season in California. He is
medical director of the immunization program for the Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health.
Nelson El Amin says research may be just starting to provide evidence for
long-held beliefs. For example, scientists for years dismissed the idea that
getting cold and wet might cause colds or flu.
recent studies have shown that cold temperatures cause stress on the body. That
stress can create conditions more inviting to viruses. So maybe it does make
sense to wrap up warmly before going outside.
about the advice to feed a cold and starve a fever? Doctor Nelson El Amin says
if you have a cold and are hungry, you should eat. But a fever, especially a
high one, suggests a more serious problem. He says people are usually not
hungry anyway when they have a high fever. Eating might even cause a person to
vomit. But drinking plenty of liquids is important. A fever can easily
dehydrate the body.
when should you treat a fever? Doctor Nelson El Amin says a fever should be
treated if it stays at forty degrees centigrade or above for a day or more. A
temperature that high can damage brain cells. The doctor also believes in
treating a fever if it prevents a person from sleeping.
acetaminophen and ibuprofen can all be used to reduce pain and fever. But
aspirin should not be given to children because it can cause a rare
belief that Doctor Nelson El Amin wanted to make clear is wrong is that
influenza vaccine can cause the flu. It cannot. Sometimes people get the flu
from another person soon after they get vaccinated, so they blame the vaccine,
vaccines do not protect everyone who gets them. Still, even if a person does
get sick, the vaccine can limit the effects of the virus.
that's the VOA Special English Health report, written by Caty Weaver. I'm Bob