Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘virus’

It’s Cold and Flu Season!!!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

When the scratchy throat, sinus headache and sniffles get to be too much to handle this season, resist the urge to reach for the easy answer. Talk to your doctor about natural alternatives for treating your cold or flu.

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part Two

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bacterial or viral? What’s the difference?

First the basics: Bacteria are live cellular organisms that can reproduce and survive on their own. They reproduce by cellular division similar to the process our cells go through. There are millions of species of bacteria. Some are harmful, and some are not. In fact, tons of bacteria are already in, on, and around us. Our body regulates their growth and population through the normal operation of the immune system. Most are harmless, and can actually play a vital role in a few bodily functions. However, some bacteria can be very dangerous if left untreated. Often, bacterial infection and illness is caused by normal bacteria located in abnormal places, or growing out of control due to a weakened immune system.

On the other hand, viruses are non-living organisms that are basically little packets of genetic material. Viruses must have a host organism to invade and attack. Once inside the host cell, the virus takes over the internal function of the cell and uses it to produce thousands more genetic copies of itself. This is how viruses reproduce. Most often, the host cell is destroyed and the thousands of new viruses go out in search of new host cells.

In Part One of this series, we discussed the fact that antibiotics don’t kill viruses. We briefly talked about the negatives of using antibiotics when the underlying infection is viral. Now, how about a few generalizations about how to tell the difference between the two? These are not concrete, but are the “usual” expectations, findings, or warning signs. That said, here are a few starting points:

  • In general, viral infections tend to be more broad (multiple areas affected), while bacterial infections tend to be more localized (single area affected).
  • Viral infections are most often associated with low-grade fever, but can cause a higher fever (up to about 102 F) for a couple days at onset. Bacterial infections are more often associated with high-grade fevers, especially those that rise above 102 F or last longer than two days.
  • Mucous in viral infections tend to be yellow-colored, while bacterial infections are generally associated with green-colored mucous.
  • A sore, red throat is probably viral. However, if there are white patches on the areas of the tonsils, it’s probably bacterial (or fungal).
  • Rashes associated with viral infection tend to cover large areas or the whole body, while those associated with bacterial infection may look more like an isolated spot or group of spots (like diaper rash).

There are blood tests, cultures, and other tests your doctor can perform to more accurately diagnose infections, but most of the time, these are unnecessary. More often than not, your body will fight off the infection on its own just like it is designed to do. Your actions, diet, lifestyle, environment, and history all play a role in how efficiently your immune system can react to viral or bacterial invaders. You can do things that will help fight them off and get you through the symptom phase quickly… or you can do things that will feed the infection, make it worse, and cause it to last longer and do more damage. More on that in our next post…

Until then, keep this in mind: Most infections can be treated naturally and don’t need antibiotics, vaccines, over-the-counter medications, or other poisonous pharmaceutical intervention. We’ll talk about how to treat them next time, but let me be clear… there are also times when medical intervention is absolutely necessary, and sooner rather than later. Get to the hospital, emergency room, or doctor’s office immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms/signs: sudden onset of fever above 104 F; persistent fever above 102 F for more than three days; persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea causing dehydration; delirium or confusion; severe headache and vomiting; sudden unexplained stiffness in the neck; or seizures.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part One

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 28, 2009

I am continually amazed at the number of medics who prescribe antibiotic medications for viral illness. Let’s just state this again so that we’re clear:

ANTIBIOTICS DON’T KILL VIRUSES!!!

Okay? You got it? If you are fighting a viral infection, taking antibiotics is like airing up the tires when your car is overheating. Think about it… airing up the tires has nothing to do with an overheating engine. However, when you stop and turn off the engine to air up the tires, it can take long enough that the temperature comes down. Therefore, some would argue that airing up the tires cooled off the engine. What a crock, right?

When you take antibiotics for a viral infection, you consciously admit that you are sick and are fighting an infection. In response, you drink more water, get more rest, limit intake of sugars and dairy, and eat a more bland or subdued diet with fiber and liquids. Within three to seven days, you start to feel better and… claim the antibiotics got you well??? Know what the average natural lifespan of a viral infection is?… Three to seven days. So, your body did what it was supposed to do. It produced more white blood cells, pulled the viruses into the lymphatic system (swollen lymph nodes?), killed them off, and is washing them out. The antibiotics had nothing to do with it.

Know what the antibiotics did do? They killed almost all of the normal, natural bacterial flora in your digestive tract. With fewer bacteria in the digestive tract, there is nothing to keep the fungus/yeast in check, therefore you are apt to develop a yeast infection. (Sound familiar, ladies?) With abnormal balance between bacteria and fungus in your intestines, you don’t digest and process your food optimally. (Diarrhea or constipation, anyone?) Now that you’re not getting nutrients from your food, you’re fatigued and your immune system is depressed. With a depressed immune system, it takes your body longer to fight off the viral infection for which you originally took the antibiotics.

Then what? Now you’re so down, your body succumbs to a true infection from bacteria that is present in your body all the time… but is usually kept under control naturally. Enough of the strongest little buggers survive the first round of antibiotics, therefore, only the strongest and most antibiotic resistant bacteria live on to cause new illness. How do we treat this? With more antibiotics, of course!

It’s no wonder we have growing fear about antibiotic resistant infections. We’re now stuck with a massive scare tactic where the vaccine is more dangerous than the illness… and people are fighting for the shot! Can you believe it? The doctors won’t give this vaccine to themselves or their family, but the media is set on convincing you it’s necessary. Why? As I’ve always told you… follow the money. Who are the biggest purchasers of advertising on TV and news programs? … That’s right… the pharmaceutical industry.

Enough ranting. I saw the preceding article originally posted in a 2007 To Your Health magazine and thought it was quite fitting for today’s article:

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t demand antibiotics from your doctor. They won’t help treat your infection.
  • Don’t take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold, cough or the flu.
  • Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

More on how to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection in the next article. Also, how to decide that you’ve tried natural remedies long enough and it’s time for some pharmaceutical help. Until next time, take care.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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