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Cold can impair driving

A new study suggests that drivers should worry about being picked up for driving under the influence -- of a cold. A study from a British car insurance company and a university in Wales found that operating a car with a cold is the equivalent to driving after consuming four double whiskies. A cold can impair concentration levels, alertness and reaction times, just as alcohol does, according to the study.

But the reason for the appearance of driving drunk isn't due just to cold symptoms, said Dr. Greg Weisshaar, an urgent care physician for Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, Minn. More likely it's from sleep deprivation caused by nighttime coughing, sniffling and aching, he said. Attempts to self-medicate can make the problem even worse. Some cold remedies contain 27 percent alcohol and many antihistamines cause drowsiness.

To prevent colds (and flashing lights in the rearview mirror), Weisshaar recommends frequent hand washing, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthful foods and exercising.


Check out your genes

Ever thought about getting your genes checked out? A free online registry of genetic-test providers launched last month. The U.S. National Institutes of Health says the tool is designed to clear the fog of confusion that surrounds genetic tests for disease.

According to the NIH, about 2,500 diseases can now be detected by such tests. The Genetic Testing Registry ( will provide free information about them to researchers, clinicians and curious individuals. Searching for a specific condition, for example, can bring up the genetic tests available for it. Users can then find out more about the labs that run the tests.

The information will be provided voluntarily by the genetic-test providers themselves, to help people to understand which tests are available and how they work.

Compiled from News wire sources