Healthy Winter Season

October 22, 2016

Contagious viruses are actives year round, but in the fall and winter we are the most vulnerable to them. People spend more time indoors during this time with other people and there’s a lot of cold weather. To combat viruses we can use several FDA approved vaccines and medications.

Viruses

Most respiratory viruses are gone within a few days and have no lasting effects, but some of them can cause serious health problems. People that use tobacco or get secondhand smoke, are prone to respiratory illnesses and can have more complications than nonsmoker do when exposed.

Colds

A cold usually causes sneezing, stuffed, and runny noses. There may be a scratchy throat as well as watery eyes and coughing. There’s no vaccine for a cold and they start gradually and often come from contact with infected mucus.

Flu

The flu last longer than a cold and can come on suddenly. Headache, fever, chills, body aches, dry cough, general misery, and fatigue are all symptoms of the flu. The flue may also cause a stuffy or runny nose and there may be nausea or vomiting issues. The flu is spread when people talk, sneeze or talk and spread droplets in the air. You may also get the flu by touching an infected surface that has the flu virus.

Tips for Prevention

There are rare exceptions, but everyone over six months of age should get the flu vaccine. You can get the vaccine as a nasal spray or a shot. This reduces doctor’s visits, flu illness as well as missed school or work. The vaccine also prevents hospitalization due to flu complications as well as death from the flu.

You should get the vaccine before October, but vaccines through January and other months can still offer you protection. You need an annual vaccination as the flue always changes and the vaccine needs to be updated. A person’s immune protection from the virus will decline over time. For people at high risk, an annual flu vaccine is important. These individuals include:

  • Children under five years of age, and especially those younger than two
  • Women that are pregnant
  • People that have chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, lung, or heart disease
  • Anyone over the age of sixty-five

Wash Hands Often

You should wash your hands often and teach your children to do this also. Colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces like your hands. Soap and water are best for hygiene according to the FDA, but you can also use alcohol based hand rubs. Make sure you clean the hands and remove dirt or blood as this will make the alcohol based rub ineffective at killing bacteria.

Limit Exposure to Those that are Sick

Try to keep small children like infants away from crowds during their first few months.

Heathy Habits for Prevention

  • Make sure you eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make sure you exercise
  • Keep tabs on your stress

When your child next has ear pain the FDA wants to ensure they get only FDA approved prescription drugs that are effective and safe for your child.

The FDA is telling companies to cease marketing sixteen unapproved prescription drugs which have labels indicating they relieve swelling and ear pain. These drops contain active ingredients like hydrocortisone and benzocaine, but the FDA has not evaluated them for safety, quality, and effectiveness.

Pharmacies as well as health care providers have sold drugs that had labels which didn’t disclose that the product wasn’t approved by the FDA. Charles E. Lee, M.D of the FDA says that we don’t know if the drugs have any benefits and we can’t accept the chances that they may have risks.

Why FDA Is Taking Action at this Time

The FDA has its Unapproved Drugs Initiative, so it’s taking action. The FDA seeks to protect consumers from drugs that aren’t proven to be safe, of high quality, or effective.

It’s a risk to public health when a drug isn’t shown to be effective, especially if it has some safety concerns. The FDA has received reports that state the products can cause mouth, face, neck, eye, and ear local allergic reactions. Other symptoms can include burning, stinging, itching and irritation of the ear.

Unapproved ear drug products which require a prescription containing these ingredients are covered by the action of the FDA:

  • benzocaine and antipyrine
  • benzocaine, antipyrine and zinc acetate
  • benzocaine, chloroxylenol and hydrocortisone
  • chloroxylenol, pramoxine and hydrocortisone
  • benzocaine
  • chloroxylenol and pramoxine

The quality of the drugs isn’t known for certain. When a drug is approved by the FDA, the drug manufacturing process is reviewed which ensure that the drug is of purity ad well as consistent quality. These unapproved ear drops have not been examines in this way. The products are prescribed for infants and small children so this is troubling. Drugs that are intended to be used on children should be tested in children. The drugs mentioned haven’t bene shown to be effective in anyone so there’s no proof that the products actually work.

Alternatives Approved by the FDA Available

There are other treatment options available for children with ear problems. The FDAs action only impacts a small percentage of drugs prescribed to treat otitis externa (outer ear infections), excess buildup of earwax, and otitis media (middle ear infections). There’s also F many OTC products available that can be used for earwax buildup or swimmers ear.

There are other solutions for ear problems and choices for consumer sot make. You need to use the products that are known to be safe and avoid the ones that haven’t been test fully for safety and effectiveness.

Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. Some causes and contributing factors that lead to ear infections are wax buildup, upper respiratory infections, food allergies, environmental allergies, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetics, nutritional deficiencies and internal injuries. Some common signs that someone is suffering from an ear infection are pain in the ear, tugging at the ear, difficulty sleeping, headache, poor response to sounds, high fever, fluid draining from the ear, vomiting, diarrhea and even hearing loss.

According to a recent study conducted by Washington State University, garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at killing bacterial strains related to ear infections. They also found that it often worked in a fraction of the time.

So what does this mean for ear infections? Nothing directly, but it does make us wonder how effective it is for other strains. Garlic also has been shown to inhibit some viruses, which some feel makes it a better choice than antibiotics, which only cover bacterial infections.