Flu season might be winding down in the northern hemisphere as we move into our spring and summer seasons, but it’s just picking up in the southern hemisphere with the onset of winter.
Global air travel also makes it easy for colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats, and many sinus and ear infections to surface at home, school and our workplaces year-round.
So how should you keep your family safe?
Many people assume that getting sick means they need an antibiotic to get better.
In fact, taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work, it has dangerous side effects—over time. Globally, overexposure to antibiotics is producing drug-resistant bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics that may have worked in the past.
Increasingly, I find myself prescribing antibiotics in increasingly higher doses to help my patients recover when suffering from serious bacterial infections.
Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US call “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” With time, bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant.
Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections such as:
Although bacteria and viruses are both too small to be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as giraffes and goldfish.
Both types of infections are caused by microbes — bacteria and viruses, respectively — and spread by things such as coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex, contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water, contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks.
But the infections are dissimilar in many other important respects, most of them due to the organisms’ structural differences and the way they respond to medications.
While viruses and bacteria can cause similar symptoms, concerns that suggest a serious infection may include:
Other symptoms, such as sore throats and swollen glands, are more generalized and may need an expert opinion to decide how best to proceed. They can occur with either bacterial or viral infections.
If your infection, sore throat, cough or flu-like illness is overwhelming and feels like the worst infection you can recall in some time, you should always go and get checked by your health care professional!
Another indicator that you need further attention is not seeing improvement or easing of your symptoms within a couple of days.
So what should you do? To increase your bacterial resistance and minimize your odds of getting sick, keep these tips in mind:
Ask your healthcare professional about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce your symptoms.
For colds like these, the advice you got from your parents is likely the best:
Did you have a memorable illness or cold as a child? How about your kids? We’d love to hear about your journey. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
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By Dr. Vivien Brown, MD
Eating is a powerful part of life. Think about your earliest childhood memories. Chances are, food—and the people who made it for you—plays a big part of those moments.
Yet, developing healthy food habits can be a great anxiety source for many parents. That’s particularly true if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands or your child’s suddenly changed their preferences.
How can this change help parents? Food guides, which reflect the best available scientific evidence at the time of their publication, offer insight into where to focus your energy in building healthy eating habits.
And the new guide’s got some great suggestions.
The biggest change to Canada’s Food guide is removing the old food groups: grains, milk products, fruit and vegetables, and meat and alternatives.
Instead, the new food guide encourages Canadians to think of each meal in terms of a plate divided into four sections.
Unsure what counts as a whole grain? John Berardi, PhD and co-founder of Toronto-based Precision Nutrition (PN), has an excellent overview to finding whole grains in your local markets.
And PN also has a useful visual system for estimating portions using your hand size when you’re on the run.
Canada’s new food guide goes further than just identifying healthy foods. If you want to build strong, lifelong eating habits, parents should also be mindful of how we eat.
Canada’s new food guide puts drinking water front and center in its recommendations, especially for children.
That news may surprise some parents. Nutritionists and doctors have advised against giving children sugar-heavy drinks like soda for several years. But juice and milk have been staples of food guides in the past.
Yet, the new food guide recommends that Canadian families avoid all drinks that are high in sugar. That includes juice.
What about milk? Dairy is now considered a protein and not an independent category. Drinking milk should be considered against other protein consumption in the diet.
I get a lot of questions from my patients about how the new food guide should influence the choices they make for their families.
It’s important to remember that guidelines are not laws. Instead, they provide educated instruction that each individual should interpret. If you have questions, you should always talk to the doctors and medical professionals who know your history and health needs best.
Also, Health Canada’s recommendations reflect recent changes in medical and scientific research. By adding new discussion areas to the guide, Health Canada is asking us to consider new ideas, such as the important of eating with family, that haven’t had a lot of airtime in previous versions.
What is Health Canada’s goal in updating the guide? In general, they want to help Canadians to:
While these are lofty but important goals, we still need to make Canada’s Food Guide apply to our own lives. You can use the information it contains as a stepping stone to avoiding the disordered eating patterns I see in patients every day.
So, the food guide serves as a great reminder to be proactive about our eating habits as we grow and age. To have a healthy life, it’s important to be proactive about food. A meal is a process, not just an end result.
By sharing meals, play and conversation with others, we’ll all learn to make better choices for our health.
What recipes do you enjoy making with your family? Have you added cooking experiences to your Family or Child collections in LifeTales? We’d love to learn more. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Do you have professional expertise of value to families? Would you like your expertise featured on our blog? Send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note we can’t respond to all inquiries. But we will be in touch if there’s a fit.