There’s a joke, probably only funny to someone from the great frozen tundra where I live, that goes something like this . . .
Q: How does a person from Minnesota say “Hello”?
A: (sniffles) . . . . “Hello.”
Get it? It does seem like everybody around here has a runny nose and they’re all sneezing and coughing and talking with a scratchy throat. In other words, a typical Minnesota fall. Otherwise known as “cold and flu” season. Not to be confused with “winter” which doesn’t start for another day or two. Also not to be confused with the season of “road construction” which lingers on indefinitely or until the first foot of snow falls . . . .
So in keeping with the season, our Healthy Matters radio broadcast this past week had lots of buzz about colds and flu. Perhaps the most common question I get: How can you tell if it is a cold or the flu?
Glad you asked. Real bread and butter medical stuff.
For starters, I can’t count how many times people insist to me that they have the flu – not a cold – because their symptoms are so much worse than everybody else’s. And the fact is that influenza (the “flu”) causes more severe symptoms than does a cold. But most of us, even those who feel pretty darn crummy, actually have a cold, not the flu.
To listen to the podcast of our most recent “Open Lines” Healthy Matters radio broadcast (without commercials!), click the logo here.
Look for Healthy Matters show #458, October 15, 2017. You can listen while you read this post!
Last Sunday I joined 197,890 of my closest friends at the Minnesota State Fair. Along with the best radio person in the business, Denny Long, I did a live, in-person broadcast of Healthy Matters. This was our 451th (!) live broadcast and my 9th year doing it from the state fair. I’m serious about the 197,000 figure. That is literally the number of people who attended – on just this one day – the country’s second-largest state fair (Texas is bigger but also runs twice as long).
To all of you who came out to see the show in person, thank you! It was great to meet people from all over the region . . . Moose Lake, Lonsdale, St. Louis Park, Woodbury . . . . but for those who didn’t make it last week, you have another chance! Come out to the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday, Sept 3, at 7:30 a.m. and say hi! We’ll do the show live from the veranda at the WCCO radio booth. If you come up and introduce yourself, I’ll put you on the radio and you can ask a health question. The WCCO radio booth is easy to find on Carnes Ave between Nelson and Underwood. It’s right by the Ye Olde Mill and right next to a Sweet Martha’s cookies.
I like dogs. And I like peanuts. But like many of you, I also have allergies. Many of us have a love-hate situation with dogs, cats, peanuts, pollen, dust, mold, trees, flowers . . .
Take a look at this puppy. Seriously, I can’t even stand the cuteness.
So this past week on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast, I coerced my medical school classmate, Dr. John Sweet, into joining me in the studio. I’ve known John for years since we actually sat together in lecture back in med school. He listened to the professor. I just talked in class. Real surprise, there.
Anyway, John became a terrific allergist. So this week after the show, we decided to record a series of short videos in which John gives us a few nuggets of solid medical info about allergies. This post features two of those videos – one about pet allergies and the other about peanut allergies. (Spoiler alert: no one gets rid of their pet and yes you CAN give your little ones peanuts to help prevent allergies).
It seems that about 75% of my life involves nasal congestion with sinus pressure around my eyes. It’s probably allergies to various tiny stuff floating through the air. Not sure about that but I am so stuffy so much of the time that the makers of decongestants have taken to sending me thank you notes for my business.
I’m particularly stuffy in the winter months which I attribute to dust and mold and whatnot floating through the air – especially when Julie (my wife) turns on the ceiling fan in our bedroom. Which is every single night. Even in Minnesota. In winter. When it is 5 degrees outside. Let’s say she likes the place cool. You could hang sides of beef in our room.
At the risk of exposing marital disharmony over the ceiling fan issue, I think the fan clogs me up as it perfectly distributes dust and pollen and such around the bedroom and into my nose. It’s like a fertilizer spreader spewing dust onto me as I sleep! So I pop the decongestants and antihistamines. Yet my sinuses remain perpetually clogged. In case you’re wondering about the marital harmony situation . . . I claim the ceiling fanneeds to be turned off to save my sinuses. My wife claims I just need to vacuum and dust more often. See what I’m up against? How can you reason with such nonsense?
But I digress.
Basically I’m pretty sure I have chronic sinusitis which is a long-lasting inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. Inflammation, being my body’s defense mechanism against all airborne invaders, tends to clog up the works in my head. I won’t get into the issue of inflammation vs. viral infection vs. bacterial infection except to say that most of the time the problem is not bacterial and hence antibiotics are not usually needed. Continue reading “Sinus congestion, nasal irrigation, and the neti pot”→
I’ve had allergies for the past 49 years. Seriously. Started when I was two years old.
My big problem is congested sinuses and nose. Loud breathing at night – drives my wife crazy just as it probably drove my folks crazy in the 60s. Sneezing over and over and over until I think my eyeballs are going to pop out and fly across the yard and land in the bird bath.
Perhaps you can relate.
I was recently going through a box of old stuff from my childhood (my Mom was good at keeping records, I guess). I uncovered a gem of a letter from my pediatrician from when I was not yet three years old. Literally typed out probably on an old IBM Selectric in courier font. I remember the smell of his office in that donut-shaped building by Southdale in Edina. Proof-positive that I have been suffering from allergies since the winter of 1966. To bolster my street cred on this, I’ve included as Exhibit A that very letter that for some reason my Mom kept all these years.