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Surviving The Bear Flu

Hey there Guys,

I wrote this article as part of Southern Hibearnation, the fantastic bear festival put on by the guys @ Vic Bears here in Australia.

To get the blog rolling I thought I would share it, you just never know when you might fall for the bear flu…

Enjoy, well you know what I mean 🙂
Hey there Guys,

Well we are about half way through Hibearnation festival here in Melbourne and already there are a few people who have fallen to the notorious “bear flu”.

What can I say, you get a group of guys from across Australia and our international neighbours each bringing their local influenza virus. Not intentional of course but it’s kind of the nature of these gatherings.

Today I thought it might be an idea to discuss a few ideas on how to avoid infection and for those already falling, how to shorten the length of the flu.

What we know is that world wide there are over 200 viruses associated with colds and flu. They are very easy to catch with the main ways of transfer being coughs and sneezes, “intimate contact” and via the hands with bugs left on surfaces. The influenza virus can happily live on bench surfaces and skin for up to two hours making visits to the pub a very easy place for cold and flu virus to spread. For the trivia buffs the main method of spreading cold and flu virus is via hands!

Hand washing and alcohol preparations are a great way to remove viruses off the hands and can help reduce transmission if you are thinking about eating.

Sadly coughing and sneezing are pretty much unavoidable making virus droplets easy to inhale where they set up shop in the throat and upper airway.

Interestingly saliva is not a good vector for spreading the flu however “heavy petting” is. Perhaps a good reason for a solid kiss being a much better way of greeting people then a hand shake?

The early signs of viral colds are fairly well known “scratchy”  sore throat, some sneezing and drippy nose, coughing and sometimes fever normally not going higher then 39 deg C.

Signs like high fevers, coughing with large amounts of sputum, rashes, pain with swallowing and extreme lethargy can be signs that other things may be happening and a visit to your doctor should be considered.

If you have been unfortunate to already have the start of a cold the good news is there are some things you can do to feel more comfortable and perhaps even shorten the length of your illness.

Paracetamol and other over the counter pain medicines can be helpful in reducing fever and minimising muscle aches and pains.

Evidence is thin however there are some smaller studies that show that both zinc and vitamin C has been effective in shortening the length of the flu however did not help reduce the symptoms when they were present.

For those who find their dry cough annoying, cough suppressants can help in addition to steam inhalations that can help move mucus off the chest.

For most people flu symptoms last around 10 days however the papers shows that smokers tend to have a three extra days of illness.

As mentioned above though if you have any changes, worries or concerns then it’s important to talk to your doctor to eliminate other potential issues or some secondary infections that can come after a cold.For those lucky enough to be flu free the evidence shows that the best way by far to reduce risk of cold transmission is hand washing. With majority of colds spread via hand contact that extra minute spent washing up before eating could increase your fun at hibearnation.

Vitamin C and zinc again have a small amount of evidence that they reduce the frequency of colds, though this is over long term studies and not just a week of fun in Melbourne.

Guys I hope you have found this helpful and perhaps even interesting. Feel free to share with anyone your think may benefit.

Best Regards,

Dr George

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