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Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season

While contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we’re most vulnerable to them. This is due in large part to people spending more time indoors with others when the weather gets cold.

Most respiratory bugs come and go within a few days, with no lasting effects. However, some cause serious health problems. People who use tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to respiratory illnesses and more severe complications than nonsmokers.

Colds usually cause stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. Other symptoms include coughing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes. There is no vaccine against colds, which come on gradually and often spread through contact with infected mucus.

Flu comes on suddenly and lasts longer than colds. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches, fatigue, and general misery. Like colds, flu can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Young children may also experience nausea and vomiting with the flu. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it.

Flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and can last as late as May, and generally peaks between December and February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu-related complications each year, including 20,000 children younger than age 5.
  • Between 1976 and 2006, the estimated number of flu-related deaths every year ranged from about 3,000 to about 49,000.
  • In the 2013 – 2014 season, there were in the U.S. 35.4 million influenza-associated illnesses, 14.6 medically attended flu illnesses, and 314,000 flu hospitalizations.
  • Prevention Tips

Get vaccinated against flu.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination, available as a shot or a nasal spray, can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

It’s ideal to be vaccinated by October, although vaccination into January and beyond can still offer protection. Annual vaccination is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may need to be updated, and because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. These people include:

  • young children under 5 years, but especially those younger than 2.
  • pregnant women
  • people with certain chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease)
  • people age 65 years and older

Vaccination also is especially important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Since babies under 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine, their mother should get a flu shot during her pregnancy to protect them throughout pregnancy and up to 6 months after birth. Additionally, all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts should be vaccinated as well.

Wash your hands often. Teach children to do the same. Both colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces, including the hands. FDA says that while soap and water are best for hand hygiene, alcohol-based hand rubs may also be used. However, dirt or blood on hands can render the hand rubs unable to kill bacteria.

Try to limit exposure to infected people. Keep infants away from crowds for the first few months of life.

Practice healthy habits.

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Do your best to keep stress in check.

Already Sick?

Usually, colds have to run their course. Gargling with salt water may relieve a sore throat. And a cool-mist humidifier may help relieve stuffy noses.

Here are other steps to consider:

  • Call your health care professional. Start the treatment early.
  • Limit your exposure to other people. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay hydrated and rested. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated products which may dehydrate you.
  • Talk to your health care professional to find out what will work best for you.

In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are FDA-approved prescription medications for treating flu. Cold and flu complications may include bacterial infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia) that could require antibiotics.

Taking OTC Products

Read medicine labels carefully and follow the directions. People with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, should check with a health care professional or pharmacist before taking a new cough and cold medicine.

Choose OTC medicines appropriate for your symptoms. To unclog a stuffy nose, use nasal decongestants. Cough suppressants quiet coughs; expectorants loosen mucus; antihistamines help stop a runny nose and sneezing; and pain relievers can ease fever, headaches, and minor aches.

Check the medicine’s side effects. Medications can cause drowsiness and interact with food, alcohol, dietary supplements, and each other. It’s best to tell your health care professional and pharmacist about every medical product and supplement you are taking.

Check with a health care professional before giving medicine to children.

See a health care professional if you aren’t getting any better. With children, be alert for high fevers and for abnormal behavior such as unusual drowsiness, refusal to eat, crying a lot, holding the ears or stomach, and wheezing.

Signs of trouble for all people can include

  • a cough that disrupts sleep
  • a fever that won’t respond to treatment
  • increased shortness of breath
  • face pain caused by a sinus infection
  • high fever, chest pain, or a difference in the mucus you’re producing, after feeling better for a short time.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.


Smells Like Death and Bad Decisions …repost

Bring up Rio de Janeiro and you’ll conjure delectable images in my mind. Images like … Beaches. Mouthfuls of picanha bursting with juicy flavor. Grown and sexy natives are pressing their bodies against each other to samba music in dusky bars. Brazilian women flaunting their beautiful Brazilian bundas in skin-baring bikinis as they walk along the beach, hips swaying in the sunlight – not to mention their bronze skin and sun-kissed waist-length tresses. (Excuse me while I whip out my credit card to order 22 inches of Brazilian Remy hair. Now I want to look Brazilian for a few weeks.)


These appetizing images aren’t all that come to mind. I haven’t forgotten about soccer. Brazil and soccer are synonymous with one another and Brazil is hosting its first World Cup in 64 years.

Rio is also home to the 2016 Olympic Games – the first country in South America to claim the privilege. But these facts are troubling, particularly because despite these honors, Rio is socially, environmentally and financially stewing in a sewage and pollution crisis that’s as disgusting as it is disturbing. This is affecting peoples’ lives and threatening the country’s tourism industry. If these issues aren’t checked by August 5, 2016, then the 2016 Olympics are in jeopardy.

Rio’s Crappy Situation

“When Brazil was selected as the host of the World Cup five years ago, we celebrated. We celebrated because we didn’t know that it was going to cost so much,” said Mateos da Costa, a 53-year-old taxi driver told CNN. “Our leaders should have known that Brazil was not in a condition to organize the event.”

To say Brazil was not in a condition is an understatement. Brazil’s competence for hosting global events has been under scrutiny several times, but after beating out Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago to host the games, the country promised to get their act together and clean up their public sewage issues in time for the games. Now, these same unsavory sewage conditions are the reason Brazil will not make good on its commitment to clean up in time for neither the World Cup nor the 2016 Olympic Games.



Rio residents, or Cariocas, are frustrated with Rio’s behavior. Initially, the World Cup and the Olympics came attached to promises of economic prosperity for not only the government but also the people. Taxpayers have paid over $3.6 billion to develop stadiums across Brazil – and that amount is just a portion of the World Cup’s $11.5 billion price tag.

Despite all the money poured into these sports initiatives, Brazil’s has a laundry list of mostly built stadiums that aren’t ready for World Cup use. And according to discussions, there are so many factors to blame, including corruption, shortsighted planning and “overwhelming bureaucracy,” says to Wall Street Journal writers John Lyons and Loretta Chao. They insist there’s widespread belief prioritization of tourism and entertainment over education and health care keep the country poor.

“It’s an affront, in a country with so many deficiencies in basic needs, to organize a Cup in this way,” Alcyr Leme told the Wall Street Journal. Although Leme has “fond memories of going to see Brazilian legend Pelé play in the 1960s,” he plans to watch this Cup from home. “Buying game tickets would only condone the waste,” he said.


Allow DNA Testing for Kirstin Blaise Lobato

Please keep Kirstin in your thougts

Feb 20, 2015 — While we await the decision from the Nevada Supreme Court please keep Kirstin in your thoughts and prayers. Let the light of true Justice shine in their eyes. Thank you. Read more

Read more

I’m 18, and I invented a cancer detection test

When I was 15, I invented a new kind of cancer detection test. I’m asking Congress to pass the TALENT Act, which would help gifted kids in under-resourced schools achieve their potential.

C –

A note from the President on net neutrality:

Find out more about net neutrality.

The FCC just voted in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the Internet open and free.

That happened, in part, because millions of Americans across the country didn’t just care about this issue: You stood up and made your voices heard, whether by adding your names to petitions, submitting public comments, or talking with the people you know about why this matters.

Read a special thank-you message from the President, then learn more about how we got to where we are today: