Ask Our Doctors: Hot and Cold Edition

Food Safety
Meat and poultry can be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and can cause illness and death. To prevent food-borne ailments, meat should be refrigerated within an hour of purchase and cooked to the appropriate temperature before serving. (See list below)

Refrigerator temperature should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and freezer temperature should be zero degrees or below. To defrost meat, place in a leak-proof plastic bag, run it under cold water or place it in the refrigerator, but never leave it out on the kitchen counter.

Guide to Cooking Meat:

  • Cook beef steaks, fish and lamb at 145 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook pork and ground meat at 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook chicken breast at 170 degrees Fahrenheit

Skin Secrets
The most effective means of treating acne-prone skin is to employ varying water temperatures. Washing your face with warm to hot water removes dirt, oil and makeup and opens the skin's pores; rinsing with cool water will then shrink pores and stimulate circulation.

"Cool water is actually a bit of an anti-inflammatory," plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says.

Hot Tip

The best way to soothe joint or tendon pain is to use an ice compress.

The best way to soothe muscle pain is to use a hot compress.

"Cold sort of shuts things off, decreases blood flow to an area," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "Warm increases blood flow to the area."

Cold Weather and Asthma
Cold air can cause cold-induced asthma and cold-induced airway reactivity. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains how the airway, lungs and bronchial tubes can become inflamed as a response to cold air, making breathing more difficult.

"A lot of times, the people who have this in cold weather will start coughing, and they have to stop whatever activity they're engaged in," Dr. Travis says.

One of the best ways to combat cold-induced airway reactivity is with warm air. When outside, try wearing a Balaclava face mask, which protects the face and warms the air you breathe.

Treating a Fever
A cold, fever and chills tend to go hand in hand, but understanding these symptoms and treating them properly can put you on the road to recovery in no time. In most cases, a fever is the body's response to some form of infection.

The hypothalamus is a region in the brain that regulates body temperature, among other functions. Invading or foreign entities trigger the fever response in the hypothalamus, which essentially changes the body's internal thermostat to combat the threat.

Go inside the body and see what happens during a fever.

Busted for Blushing!

Dr. Jim pulls a prank on Dr. Travis, who's known to be embarrassed on the show a time or two!

"Oftentimes, doctors will use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reset the [body's] thermostat," Dr. Travis says. "Your body is trying to find the temperature that your thermostat is set at, and you don't want to overheat or submerge yourself in cold water."

"A lot of parents ask, ‘What about cool baths?' when their child has a fever," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears adds. "That's actually the wrong thing to do; that can make the fever even worse. A lukewarm bath, along with a fever-reducing medicine, can get the temperature down pretty quickly."

Cold Medicine for Children
Dr. Jim answers a question submitted to @DrJimSears on Twitter about the safety of cold medicine for children.

"The information about cold medicines has really changed over the last few years," Dr. Jim says. "We've learned that they're not recommended [for children] under age 2, as they can be dangerous. Also, a lot of these medicines have similar ingredients, and parents will use two of them, and you're getting an overdose. Even in kids ages 2 to 11, we're still studying whether they're safe for those kids."

Dr. Jim suggests administering alternative treatments for colds such as a Neti pot, steam and homeopathic remedies such as Hyland's Cold & Cough 4 Kids

Burned Tongue

Ken asks The Doctors what he should do when he burns his tongue. See a home remedy that can help ease the pain.

Heating Baby Bottles
Never heat a baby's bottle in the microwave, as it can create hot spots in the milk or formula. The heating process can also leach dangerous chemicals from the bottle and deposit them into the milk.

Instead, Dr. Jim suggests running warm tap water over the bottle or submerging the bottle in a pot of warm water to heat the contents to body temperature. To test the heat, spritz a bit of milk on the inside of your wrist.

Cold Sores
Cold sores, or fever blisters, are fluid-filled, often painful, blisters or sores that appear on the lips or mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). An estimated 80 percent of the population has been exposed to HSV-1, but not everyone will contract it.

HSV-1 is highly contagious, transmitted by oral and bodily fluid contact, usually when the sores are present. The prodome, or precursor, to an outbreak is usually pain or tingling before the blister actually pops up. Sores often clear up on their own and can also be treated with antiviral medication. Remember: no kissing, sharing food, glasses or utensils.

Once a person has been infected, the virus permanently resides in the trigeminal nerve. Various factors such as stress, illness and extreme weather can provoke the virus to flare up, causing cold sore or fever blister outbreaks.

Watch how to treat and prevent cold sores.