Home remedies to soothe when flu's got you
When a cold or flu strikes, foods and drinks may help you get better faster, doctors say. Hot soup is a good source of fluid and soothing heat for your throat; its saltiness can help lower the risk of dehydration from a fever. Choose clearer broths over creamy varieties. Honey can reduce coughing by coating and soothing an irritated throat. Try swallowing between ½ and 2 teaspoons, especially before you want to sleep. Note: Never give honey to children younger than 1; it can cause a rare but potentially fatal illness. Capsaicin, a natural compound in peppers, can help thin mucus, clear stuffy noses and flush germs from the body. And of course staying well hydrated with water can reduce symptoms such as headache and sore throat.
Teens abusing prescription drugs
Abuse of prescription drugs continues to be a major problem among teenagers, although fewer are smoking cigarettes, the 2008 Monitoring the Future survey reported in December. The survey, conducted for 33 years, found that nearly 10 percent of high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin and 4.7 percent reported abusing OxyContin. Both are strong opioid pain pills. Seven of the top 10 drugs abused by high school seniors were prescription or over-the-counter medications. The survey also found that marijuana use has leveled off after a decadelong decline. Cigarette smoking is at its lowest point since the survey began — though more than 1 in 10 high school seniors say they smoke daily and 5.4 percent smoke more than a half a pack a day.
Be your own advocate
Ever feel like you're getting the bum's rush at the doctor's office? Cyndy King, a nursing professor at Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., and author of 100 Questions & Answers About Communicating With Your Healthcare Provider, offers this: Observe your doctor's written, verbal and nonverbal cues. Look for someone who will treat "the whole you" rather than just physical symptoms, take time to talk and explain treatment plans, be willing to let you ask questions and give thorough answers, and be available by telephone. Also, keep a notebook organized in three sections — questions before appointments, notes during the appointments and questions, notes and symptoms when you are home.
Compiled from Times staff, wire reports