Health Center offers free cold kits

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    By Kathleen Waterfall

    The Student Health Center is one step ahead of the cold season this year.

    Pfizer, Inc. offered 700 free Sudafed Adult Cold/Sinus Management Kits to the health center to treat and educate students with colds and other viral infections.

    “The cold kits are to provide something directly to the patients that educate them on the overuse of antibiotics,” said Milton Linn, professional health care representative for Pfizer, Inc.

    Linn said 72 percent of patients who see a professional to treat their symptoms think they need a prescription to make them feel better. If the doctor diagnoses them with a viral instead of a bacterial infection, Linn said, the doctor can still give the patient something tangible from their visit to help the patient feel better.

    “It”s useful to have a little information about not taking too many antibiotics that don”t help viruses anyway and that affect your immune system when you really do need them,” said Erma Severson, administrative assistant at the health center. “We get so many colds here that are viral, and we really try not to over-prescribe antibiotics,” Severson said.

    The over-prescription of antibiotic drugs has caused a serious problem in bacterial diseases becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics, according to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

    The more antibiotics are used, the faster bacteria learn how to resist their effects, the committee said.

    According to the brochure included in the cold kits, viruses almost always cause colds and antibiotics do nothing to fight viruses.

    Experts worry that if resistant strains of bacteria become more common, relatively simple illnesses could turn into more serious conditions.

    In the case of the common cold, the best way to prevent it from turning into a more serious illness is to treat the symptoms while they run their course. An antibiotic would not reduce cold symptoms.

    According to the brochure, people should review and understand the classic signs and symptoms of colds and flu.

    The symptoms of colds include sore throat, running or stuffy nose, coughing, postnasal drip and a fever. Colds typically last 5 to 14 days, and symptoms gradually improve within 3 to 5 days.

    Flu symptoms are similar, but more severe. Additional symptoms can include aches and pains, sensitivity to light, sudden chills and fever up to 103?F. Symptoms usually reduce quickly after two to three days when the fever breaks.

    The most important treatment for flu and colds is plenty of rest and fluids, specifically warm fluids.

    It is not necessary to see a doctor to receive a cold kit; although doctors and clinicians can give the cold kits to the patients they see.

    The cold kits are available at the pharmacy counters.

    Pfizer has been offering the cold kits approximately five years, Linn said. Through an ongoing survey along with the cold kits, 93 percent of patients who received the cold kits have been satisfied with the results.

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