How does a doctor stay well when his consulting room is filled with ill people? GP Dr Matt Piccaver’s answer is in his hands
Stay clear of colds with Dr Matt Piccaver’s advice
MY STAFF think I’m probably a bit over the top. My wife definitely does. I’ve taken to wearing gloves when I see patients, particularly in the winter months. This might seem a little unusual. I don’t think I’m descending into the full Howard Hughes’ fear of contagion. I’m not quite at the level of hiding away from all people. We are, after all, a scaffold for bacteria, viruses and fungus. I was once told that there are more micro-organisims that make up our bodies than human cells.
Whether this is true or not, I’m not entirely certain. I’m a little fed up with catching colds. So, I’ve elected only to touch people when wearing gloves. This is probably not something I should admit to really.
Winter is the season of coughs and colds. Of sore throats and runny noses, ear aches and sinusitis. Getting through a veritable forest of tissues, menthol this and honey and lemon that. Boxes of cold and flu remedies and duvet days.
The good thing is that most coughs and colds settle in no time. Ear aches usually settle in about four days. Sore throats by a week. Common colds? Probably 10 days or so. Sinusitis can take nearly three weeks, as can coughs and bronchitis. A supply of pain relief, a box or three of tissues and a bit of rest are probably enough.
When do we know when to get in touch with a doctor if we become unwell?
High fevers, shakes and shivers, coughing blood or getting sicker and sicker are probably some useful signs of getting worse. A cough lasting longer than three weeks should ideally get checked out, particularly if you have a history of smoking in your past (or still do).
There are a few things you can do to stop yourself becoming unwell. Regular hand washing has been shown in some settings to reduce transmission of certain infections. Staying away from people who are coughing or spluttering is another good idea. Crowds, and I find conferences, are a great way of getting unwell. As is air travel. Or just being near people. I’m probably showered in a mist of other people’s virussoaked sputum on a daily basis. Sometimes every 10 minutes when winter really takes hold.
The moral of this tale of bodily fluids? Colds usually go away. Tough it out and remember good hygeine. If you’re getting sicker (and not just in a “manflu” way) see your doctor. Just try not to cough on me.
“I was once told that there are more micro-organisims that make up our bodies than human cells”