Trying to deal with seasonal changes and health challenges

How I handled my upper respiratory and urinary tract infections this month

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by Caroline Gainer |

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Note: This column describes the author’s own experiences with phenazopyridine hydrochloride and cranberry juice for urinary tract infections. Not everyone will have the same response to treatment. Consult your doctor before starting or stopping a therapy.

As November ends here in West Virginia, the chilly weather is confining us more to indoor spaces. This time of the year also ushers in cold and flu season. For those with arthritis, it also brings pain.

Meanwhile, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who are typically immunocompromised to some degree, need to be particularly careful. My recent experience has been an example.

In early November, I had an upper respiratory tract infection, which can be challenging for those of us who have COPD. This one seemed to settle in my middle ear and cause dizziness. On my doctor’s advice, I treated it with an antibiotic and over-the-counter Mucinex (guaifenesin).

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Infections and arthritis

Then, last week, my hands began to tingle when I urinated. While my need to urinate was urgent, I expelled extraordinarily little. I knew these were symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

My doctor had COVID-19, so I had to decide what to do. I had UTIs frequently in my younger years, so I had an arsenal on hand ready for battle. I started taking over-the-counter phenazopyridine hydrochloride, which doesn’t treat a UTI but can ease some symptoms. Antibiotics treat infections.

I also started drinking cranberry juice, which has been shown to help prevent UTIs. Years ago, I began drinking a glass every day and, for a time, was no longer bothered by UTIs. But I stopped because of the sugar in each drink. I now plan to drink cranberry juice with no sugar added. To me, the benefits seem to outweigh the downside.

Then we come to arthritis pain. A prescription anti-inflammatory usually keeps it in check, but cold weather does bring it out. Thankfully, I’ve had remarkable success with topical treatments the past two winters.

This year seems to be a little more problematic, but that could be because I had the UTI and the upper respiratory tract infection issues. I have pain in my shoulders, but I can cope with that. The pain in my hips threatens to make me less mobile. That harms my overall health, so I’ll apply topical treatment there, too.

I also try to remain stress-free in this stressful season, since it affects both my COPD and arthritis. We must do everything possible to prevent respiratory and other infections and keep joint aches minimal.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.