Posts Tagged ‘colds’

Can You Catch the Same Cold Twice? Answers to Your Sick Questions

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

It’s that time again–hacking, sneezing, sniffling season. Fall. And even though the same old sicknesses come around year after year, we figured you may have a few lingering questions about them. So what have you always wondered about colds and the flu? Perhaps …

  • Why does your snot sometimes turn green when you get a cold? (Ew!)
  • Why do your muscles ache when you’re sick?
  • What’s the difference between the flu and the stomach flu?
  • What are clear liquids, and why are they so great for sick people?

And, per the fascinating title of this here post, can you catch the same cold twice? Here’s the answer to that one, from Shirley Tozzi, M.D., an infectious-disease specialist in Massachusetts:

Within a few days after you get a cold, your immune system begins producing specific antibodies that prevent the virus from infecting more cells. Once you recover, you’ll be immune to that specific virus. However, many viruses can cause a common cold, and you could still get infected from a different strain.

And here are the answers to the other questions, plus seven more: “What Does Green Snot Mean? 12 Cold and Flu FAQs.”

Happy fall!

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Gargling controversy: Tap water as a cold remedy? Newspaper questions study.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The most popular article in our latest e-newsletter took on a simple, long-time first-aid remedy: hydrogen peroxide. Believe it or not, it may do your cuts more harm than good.

After our managing editor tweeted a link to it, Twitter follower Ross Kennedy asked, “What about gargling with diluted peroxide?” Good question.

I’m not aware of any well-done studies that have shown that gargling with peroxide helps prevent infections. It probably doesn’t hurt, as long as it’s well diluted. (Otherwise, it can cause a burn.) One study did suggest that gargling with plain old water might help keep you cold-free. But the validity of its findings has been questioned.


Good sleep prevents common cold by boosting immunity, study says

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The real question about one recent study may be, did these “volunteers” undergo torture as defined by the Geneva Convention?

Past studies have shown that poor sleep habits weaken your body’s natural immune function.  A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine gets more specific.  In it, researchers directly exposed volunteers to a cold virus to see if sleep made a difference in fighting it off.

In an experiment that I thought only medical students would volunteer to undergo, the participants were quarantined for five days.  They got drops with a high concentration of rhinovirus up their nose and waited for the consequences.

No animals were harmed in this study.


Boost your immune system: supplements, herbs, vitamins to treat colds–and the evidence behind them

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Many people use nutritional supplements, herbs, vitamins to try to boost immunity and ward off colds.  It is only natural (pun intended) since we don’t have a cure for the annoying and frequent set of viruses that cause colds.

A few days back, I wrote about some general tried and true methods to increase your immunity that have good studies to back them up and don’t cost money.   They should be your base for protection.  Only implement other methods after you have put the base in place.

Good, reliable studies of herbs, vitamins and supplements that prove efficacy and safety are harder to find.  Although many people swear by their home remedy, the mainstream medical world has not taken these seriously, in the past.  We are now trying to catch up but have a long way to go.

The reason I reneged on my promise to post this information, on boosting your immune system with herbs, supplements and vitamins on yesterday, was I wanted to wait on access to the information at, where they utilize a group of medical experts and scientists to review all of the reliable data we have on alternative medicines.  Their mission is ”to provide objective, reliable information that aids clinicians, patients, and healthcare institutions to make more informed and safer therapeutic decisions.”

Here is what they say about specific supplements, herbs and vitamins fighting the common cold.


How to boost your immunity during the cold and flu season

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

photo by James Gathany

Looking for a cure for the common cold or flu?  Sorry to disappoint.  You won’t find one that is proven to work.  Trying to boost your immunity to fight off those pesky viruses?  You’ve come to the right place.  As a reminder, colds and influenza are caused by viruses that affect your upper respiratory system.  Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.  They don’t work on colds or the flu.  If you do get one of these nasty viruses, it has to run its course as your body’s immune system fights it to the finish.  Here are some ways you can boost and strengthen your immune system to help in the battle.


A doctor’s checklist for choosing over-the-counter medications for adults

Friday, November 7th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to the cough-and-cold section of the pharmacy, I feel a little overwhelmed.  I think I know what I want but then see the same brand with just a little different type or amount of ingredients.  Which is better for your symptoms? (Make no mistake, the over-the-counter meds treat symptoms, not the underlying problem.  Many times that’s all you need, just to feel a little better until your body agrees.)


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