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Pass the Tissues! — November 2019

Pass the Tissues! — November 2019


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How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold, the Flu and Allergies



It’s that season again. When you first start to feel lousy, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a cold, the flu or allergies acting up. Knowing the difference may help you pick the best treatment. All three ailments affect the respiratory system and can make it harder to breathe.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses. Both can give you a sore throat, congested head and cough, but the flu might also include a high fever, aches, pains, headache and extreme exhaustion. Allergy symptoms like sneezing and a stuffy nose can be confused with a cold, but allergies tend to make the eyes itchy and watery, which seldom happens with colds (or flu). Allergies are triggered by allergens (pollen, foods, pet dander, perfumes), not by viruses. When exposed to allergens, the delicate tissue in the nose and airways may swell and result in a runny or stuffed up nose.

Source: NIH News in Health

Colds and allergies can progress to sinus infections: when the air cavities (or sinuses) on either side of the nose and the front center of the forehead become inflamed and don’t drain. The mucous trapped in the sinuses causes pressure and can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Colds and sinus infections have similar symptoms, but colds usually peak after 3-5 days and then improve. Sinus infections tend to stick around longer and cause facial pain, tenderness or pressure; yellow or green mucous; and bad breath. Having allergies can increase the likelihood of developing sinus infections.

If a sore throat rears its ugly head, how do you decide if it is a cold symptom or strep throat? Strep is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria. It is more common among children than adults. The signs of strep include a sore throat that starts very quickly, pain when swallowing, swollen and red tonsils sometimes with white spots, fever and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck. If the sore throat is accompanied by a cough, runny nose, and hoarseness, the cause is likely a cold, and not a strep bacterial infection. A quick test by your provider can determine if strep is present.

While there is no cure for colds and flu, consider these remedies to ease the symptoms:

  • REST! Drink fluids like water and herb tea; staying hydrated helps thin mucous and removes it from the body (and reduces the risk of sinus infections). Eat healthy foods to build strength. Some swear by eating chicken soup!
  • Use saline nasal spray or drops and/or a cool mist vaporizer to moisten dry airways and loosen congestion. A neti pot can be used to clean out the nasal passages by pouring salt-water into the nostrils.
  • Gargling with salt-water, eating ice chips and sucking on lozenges can help sooth a sore throat.
  • Adding honey to hot tea can help calm a cough.

Multi-symptom over the counter (OTC) medications can provide temporary relief. These may contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen, a decongestant or antihistamine, and/or a cough suppressant. When selecting symptom relief, aim to match your symptoms with the medicine. If you are stuffed up, but don’t have a cough or pain, it’s better to take a decongestant and/or breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water rather than take medicine for symptoms you don’t have. Note that decongestants should be avoided by those with high blood pressure since they relieve congestion by narrowing blood vessels.

If taking multi-symptom medicine, don’t take any ingredients separately that are already in the multi-symptom formula; double dosing can cause dangerous side effects. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections so don’t expect antibiotics to help a cold or flu virus. Antibiotics will be prescribed for strep throat and may be used to treat a sinus infection (if it is caused by bacteria).

Most people recover from a cold or flu without needing medical care, but for symptoms that are severe or last longer than 10 days, contact your primary care provider (PCP).

If you suspect the flu, you may benefit from taking anti-viral medication to reduce the severity of symptoms. To be effective, anti-viral medications must be started in the first day or two that flu symptoms appear. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems tend to be at higher risk for complications from the flu. If you are at higher risk, you may want to consult your PCP when flu symptoms first arise.

Allergy symptoms persist if the allergen continues to be present. For seasonal allergy sufferers, that can mean spending more time indoors with the windows closed. When outdoors, wearing a mask can filter out some allergens. If milk, cats, perfumes or other triggers are the cause, eliminating the allergen from your diet or environment can stop or ease the allergic reaction.

OTC medications containing antihistamines can help relieve allergy symptoms. Some allergy medicines contain diphenhydramine, which can cause drowsiness. Be sure to read labels carefully and/or consult with your PCP to select an allergy medicine without unwanted side effects. Those who have life-threatening allergic reactions often carry an epi-pen, a device to inject epinephrine, a medicine that re-opens closed airways in emergency situations.

Tips for Avoiding Illness

  • Handwashing is the BEST way to prevent the spread of illness since germs are spread easily by touching door handles, handrails, restaurant menus, shopping carts, phones, toys and other shared objects. Wash your hands with soap and warm water; scrub both sides, between your fingers, and under your nails. Always wash your hands before eating. Keep hand sanitizer (or wipes) on your desk or in your car for clean ups when washing with soap and water is not an option.
  • Avoid crowded spaces where close contact with people is likely, especially if you’re feeling rundown.
  • Don’t share utensils and dishes, particularly with sick people.
  • The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and best way to protect against flu viruses. There are many flu viruses, but each year the vaccine is developed to target those that research suggests will be the most common. Even if you do get the flu, the vaccine is believed to reduce the severity and length of illness.
  • Vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, elderberry syrup and other remedies are believed to boost the immune system. Evidence of these claims is mixed, but since some of these remedies are added to water, it can never hurt to drink plenty of fluids. Be aware that these remedies can be pricey.

We hope you stay healthy this season but if you develop symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult with your KnovaSolutions clinician. Call us at 800/355-0885 (M-F, 8-8, MT).

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


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What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

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Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


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Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

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Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


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Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

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Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


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A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

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Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

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Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


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Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

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Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

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Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

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Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

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Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

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Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

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How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018

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Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

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The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

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How to Improve Your Resiliency

Your mental health and wellness affects practically every aspect of your life—how you think, feel and act at home and work, with family, friends, colleagues and the general public. People who are emotionally healthy tend to go about their day with a sense of purpose. They engage in enjoyable activities and balance them with their work and family life. They have fulfilling relationships and have a positive outlook.

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Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

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And What to Do When Your PCP Isn’t Available

Your primary care provider (PCP) is that professional you see every year or so for preventive screening or more often if you are managing ongoing health concerns. S/he’s also the one you call when you get sick or develop concerning new symptoms. But, what if your PCP isn’t available? Your options depend upon the circumstances.

Wait, Back Up!

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Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018

Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018

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Evolving Field of Medicine Offers Promise

Healthcare providers have always sought to individualize care for their patients. But now, advances in medical research allow providers to study a person’s genes, offering another tool to guide decisions about preventing, diagnosing and treating disease. Personalized medicine, also called precision or individualized medicine, is an evolving field where providers use genetic testing to understand how a person’s disease risks are unique. Used alongside information about family history, symptoms and environmental factors, genetic testing can help providers prevent illness and/or determine which treatments will work best.

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How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017

How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017

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Even Minimal Walking Offers Health Benefits

You don’t have to run or bike intensively to get the health advantages of regular exercise. A new study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) showed that 120 minutes or less of moderate-intensity walking each week can add longevity to your life. 120 minutes? That’s less than 18 minutes a day!

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