nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Have A Cold, And I'm A Wimp

Another of the joys of caring for grandchildren.

Coinicidentally, I saw that Dr. Steven Novella had written a very nice post on Science-Based Medicine about treating the common cold.

I agree with the substance of his article.  Put simply, save your money; nothing much does a lot of good.  Most have some favorite anodyne, and if it does no harm and you believe in it...go ahead.  Witness the long list of comments to his post.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS like ibuprofen) are probably the best bet, with the caveat that I'm referrring to adults, and some people can't or shouldn't be taking them, due to other medical issues.

Go read his article, for a common sense and science-based review.

I want to make a pitch for the issue of "getting" the common cold.

I still run across patients who have some odd notions about contagion and prevention.

You probably saw the news reports about taking zinc in the first day of a cold, but for my money the science isn't convincing.

With regard to contagion, those who think that airborne transmission is the primary method (i.e., being coughed or sneezed on)--not true.

In fact, most transmission probably comes from immediate contact with contaminated surfaces.  This makes it very hard to be perfectly sanitary.

Squeeze that tomato in the grocery store? Grab that rail at church?  Lean on that counter in the bathroom?  The list of possibilities is endless.

BUT, handwashing can reduce the exposure greatly.  Just make sure you don't bite your nails, rub your eyes, etc, in between. 

And, while the hand cleansers are useful, I think about half the protection they provide comes from just being mindful of the cleanliness of your hands.   Plus, it's harder to disinfect all the surfaces of your hands in the same way washing with soap does, and it costs more.

In the end, don't wig out.  There are hundreds of these viruses out there; you can't keep dodging forever. 


Doc D

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