Winter Cold, Flu and Coughing Got Your Concerned?
It’s amazing how much the weather changes in Oklahoma. We’ve seen bright and sunny days with relatively mild temperatures and weather and then days of cold, wind, ice and light snow! Will Rogers was right when he said that if you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, just wait for a few and it will change.
We’ve found a great article from our friends at AARP and wanted to share it. It pays to pay attention to your health symptoms and coughing could be a harbinger of a health issue you might want to discuss with your healthcare provider.
A persistent cough could mean something more serious and may need a visit to the doctor.
When Steve Sonntag started coughing in November 2000, he thought it was no big deal — probably a cold he’d picked up at the nursing home while visiting his mother, Natalie, who was 87. The Stockton, California, teacher was 55 at the time, active and — other than a cough — in good health.
The cough was constant, but he ignored it, assuming it would clear up on its own. As the winter wore on, though, it felt worse in his chest. When he couldn’t catch his breath and his temperature shot up to 106 degrees, he finally went to the doctor. A CT scan revealed viral pneumonia and fluid buildup around Sonntag’s heart, and he was admitted to the hospital — “STAT,” written in red. The next day, a surgeon made an incision in his chest and inserted a tube to remove 12 ounces of fluid.
Sonntag spent two days in the intensive care unit and 21 more in the hospital after he also developed a blood clot in his leg. “I nearly died,” he says. The lesson? “I should have gone to the doctor a lot earlier,” Sonntag, now 73, admits.
Most of us come down with some kind of a cough every winter, and over the years we’ve learned to live with this. But a cough that lasts more than two weeks — or is accompanied by a high fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing up blood — needs prompt attention, particularly during the winter months, when influenza is rampant. With age, our immune defenses weaken and subtle physiological changes in our lungs make us more susceptible to illnesses.
There are three ways to prevent someone else’s cough from ‘going viral.’
1. Get vaccinated
Every year, get a flu shot. If you are 65 or older, you ideally want the high-dose vaccine.
2. Wash your hands
Lather up or use alcohol-based sanitizer gel after shaking hands or opening doors in public.
3. Skip that smoke
Just one cigarette paralyzes the cilia in your lungs for up to 24 hours, increasing your risk.
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