Antibiotics aren’t the only meds |

Antibiotics aren’t the only meds

Dr. Drew Werner

EAGLE COUNTY – Wow! What a few weeks. Flu, strep, bronchitis, croup, pink eye, sinusitis, RSV. I’m tired just thinking about it, not to mention working long hours than is healthy for anyone. Before going any further, however, I need to put in a big word of thanks to all my staff. I cannot do any part of what I do without them.It is hard being sick in our too-fast-paced world. Just because you are sick doesn’t mean the world will wait for you to catch up. That’s the job of my staff and I’m sure of every medical office in the valley – to help you get well as soon as possible. Sometimes it might not seem that way with long waiting times in the office and appointments seemingly available at only the most inconvenient times. In truth we’re all here because we want to help you more than anything. It is just hard to remember that there are many others who need that last appointment as much as you do.So the next time you’re in my office, or any of our excellent local physicians, please say thanks to the receptionist who greeted you at the front desk, the nurse or assistant who checked you in or even the billing person who answered that insurance question for you. They are doing their best (and it truly is an amazing accomplishment when it is busy) to help get you better too.Dear Doc: Please tell me why sometimes when I go to see my doctor I get an antibiotic, others I don’t. I know when I’m sick and when I need something, so why is it always different?Following up from my last column, here are some more facts, which might surprise you:– A true fever is a temperature over 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). — Green drainage or a productive cough doesn’t always mean you need antibiotics.– Acute bronchitis is viral 90 percent of the time.– Strep is the cause of sore throats less than 15 percent of the time.– Sinusitis less than six days duration is likely viral.So, what can you do if an unwanted bug has a hold of you? The first thing I usually advise is treat the symptoms. That means knowing why you are feeling bad and avoiding “kitchen sink” remedies. Those are the ones that have everything in them. Oftentimes combination medications contain ingredients that you may not need. When deciding what might help think about the following:– Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and others) is for nasal and eustachian tube congestion. If your nose or ears are stuffy, pseudoephedrine will help. The down side is that it might cause nervousness, palpitations and difficulty sleeping. If your prostate is enlarged be careful it might cause difficulty urinating. Pseudoephedrine comes in adult and child doses, as well as in long and short acting version.– Dextromethorphan is an effective cough suppressant. It is the ingredient in Robitussin DM and many others. A long acting version called Delsym is particularly effective. Like pseudoephedrine, it is available in doses for adults and children.– Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) are great for fevers, body aches and feeling run down. Alternating them every three or four hours is an excellent way to keep fevers down. Don’t use them just for fevers, though. Fevers can actually help you fight the infection. If you are feeling bad or your children are not sleeping, eating or drinking and fevers are present (remember the 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit rule!) they will help. Take them with food and don’t use more than the recommended dose.– Antihistamines are medications I rarely recommend. They can cause too much dryness preventing drainage as well as a lot of sedation. An exception is Loratidine (Claritin and others). Loratidine only recently became available over the counter and is very effective for allergies. It does not cause drowsiness, but is also not very effective for infections.We have talked before about hand washing, vitamins and herbal supplements. When bugs are around hand washing is as important as ever. Vitamins and herbal supplements may help, too. When a bug bites, be patient (no pun intended). You will likely get better on your own. Use medications and supplements wisely. Last, but certainly not least, please say thank you to all those who are working hard to help you get better.Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658. Vail, Colorado

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