News Stories

Why is Winter Flu Season?

We've told you how to make your flu shot work better, but the big question is: why does flu strike during the winter?

In LiveScience.com, Dave Mosher writes about a new study that shows that the flu virus?s success depends on low relative humidity and cold temperatures?and that describes winter weather. The virus can live longer in cold, dry weather than it can in hot, humid conditions. Mosher quotes virologist Peter Palese as saying, "We've always thought the immune system wasn't as active during the winter, but that doesn't really seem to be the case."

Viruses like the ones that cause the flu aren't killed by antibiotics, and today they cause more human deaths than almost anything else. But there may be a new way to kill them: SHAKE them to death.

In LiveScience.com, Michael Schirber quotes physicist Otto Sankey as saying, "The capsid of a virus is something like the shell of a turtle. If the shell can be compromised [by mechanical vibrations], the virus can be inactivated." How can something so tiny be shaken??with laser beams. Schirber quotes Sankey as saying, "This is such a new field, and there are so few experiments, that the science has not yet had sufficient time to prove itself. We remain hopeful but remain skeptical at the same time."

If you neglect to get your shot and catch the flu, will chicken soup help? Sometimes home remedies do work. New evidence supports the idea that drinking cranberry juice?a familiar home remedy?helps treat urinary tract infections.

A diagnosis of a urinary tract infection refers to a presence of a large amount of bacteria in the urine that can cause pain during urination and can lead to more severe infections of the bladder and kidneys. Researcher Ruth Jepson says, "UTIs can be distressing, and people often take a self-care approach rather than seeking professional advice. It is a common problem that a great deal of health care time and resources are spent on." The condition is responsible for over 7 million doctor office visits each year. About 40% of women and 12% of men will experience the problem at least once during their lifetime.

Jepson found that cranberry products significantly reduced UTIs over 12 months compared to the placebo/control groups. The cranberry treatment was more effective for women who suffered from recurrent UTIs. In other words, it works!

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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