New York City ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Yael Halaas stopped by recently to share tips on how to prevent the dreaded cold and flu this winter season, ways to treat it, common myths and how to tell if you’re suffering from allergies or a cold.
Candace: What are some simple steps we can take to prevent ourselves from getting sick this season?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “Well, you know as soon as the cold weather hits we really want to be proactive in keeping ourselves healthy, and prevention is always the goal. And it sounds so simple but washing the hands is so important. So many times an infected colleague or a friend at school comes in with their cold, sneezes onto their hand instead of onto their elbow which would be so much more helpful and then they touch a surface that we’re going to touch- a computer screen, a door knob, a light switch and you know we come there, we touch that a couple hours later and we find that we’re getting sick too, so washing your hands before you touch your eye, your nose or your mouth is so important. And if you’re on the go, just use one of those alcohol based hand sanitizers.”
Candace: What can we do if we already feel like we’re getting sick?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “So, you know it’s inevitable that something is going to catch us and within the first 24 hours of that first symptom, be it a stuffy nose or a uncomfortable tickle in the throat, I highly recommend taking something like Cold-EEZE zinc lozenges. I always keep two or three in my purse or the little oral spray bottle because it’s really so helpful; and we have found this borne out by clinical studies that it can decrease the duration of your cold by almost 50% and when you do that you’re not only going to be actually starting to feel better but actually getting better faster. And the way that actually Cold-EEZE does that is by releasing activated zinc ions into the mouth and that’s important that you’re using a zinc gluconate to do that because you really want those activated zinc ions to block the binding of the virus to the lining of our mouths and throats and that’s what’s going to prevent the virus from really getting us sick; and it’s been really borne out by really excellent studies coming from the Cleveland Clinic and Dartmouth College.”
Cold-EEZE – Cold-EEZE.com
Candace: How can you tell if it’s a cold or if you’re experiencing something like hay fever or allergies?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “That’s a great question and people really need to know the answer to that and sometimes it can be a little tricky to tell; so some of the ways we can do that is to really break it down. Allergies are going to be coming from something in the air by a pollen count, by something that is a dust mite; something you’re being exposed to at certain times, be it times of the day or times of the year, so if your allergies chronically happen in spring-time, in summer and early fall, you might tend to think allergy. If it’s happening a lot at night it might be a dust mite allergy; but you’re going to have symptoms that kind of go along more with allergy and that’s going to be more the itchy eyes, the itchy nose. With colds you’re going to have less of that itchiness and it’ll often be when someone else has just recently been ill and again it’s going to stick more with the stuffy nose, and the post-nasal drip and the tickle in the throat but without some of those itchy symptoms.”
Candace: How important is diet and exercise?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “Diet and exercise are actually important too. Diet starts with taking a good amount of water in every day, you really want to have eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily. Diet also is important, you really want to make sure you’re having a well balanced diet with lots of healthy vitamins and essential nutrients to help keep that immune system with all of the fighting power that it needs. And then exercise actually has been shown to be helpful as well; a moderate form of exercise can actually give a boost to the immune system.”
Candace: Should you exercise when you have a cold or the flu?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “That’s actually a very good question as well. A little bit of exercise is fine when you have the cold; flu is a different story because whenever you start to have fever, then your body is having a little bit of a harder time regulating its body temperature, so exercise might be a little bit putting it over the edge. So with flu you’re going to have more systemic problems, I’m going to actually recommend that you keep away from the gym and you keep yourself really well hydrated.”
Candace: There’s so many myths when it comes to getting sick such as going outside with wet hair, temperature change; are any of them true?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “Well, you know you think because we call it a cold, you get it from the cold weather but that’s actually not the case; it’s a bit of a myth. You know it’s not smart to go outside without a hat and to be freezing cold but it doesn’t actually make you sick. It’s the viruses that are making you sick. A myth that actually has some truth to it is chicken soup, there’s a few studies that show that homemade chicken soup actually really do seem to boost the immune system.”
Candace: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share this morning?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “Again just to urge the importance of a couple of things- one: sneeze into the crook of your arms instead of your hands and wash your hands as frequently as possible.”
Candace: Where can we go for more information?
Dr. Yael Halaas: “For more information you can go to Cold-EEZE.com or search for Cold-EEZE on facebook and for more general colds and flu information you can go to CDC.gov.”