Category Archives: flu shots

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Cold and Flu Season is here! When you wake up sneezing, coughing, and have that achy, feverish, can’t move a muscle feeling, how do you know whether you have cold symptoms or the flu?

 

It’s important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.

So how can you tell the difference?

Colds tend to start with a sore throat and progress to the congestion, runny nose and cough that we all hate.With cold symptoms, the nose teems with watery nasal secretions for the first few days. Later, these become thicker and darker. Dark mucus is natural and does not usually mean you have developed a bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.

If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly and include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough. Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but can cause fatigue and soreness for days after.  The real danger in the flu is the possibility of pneumonia, a risk that is increased in children and the elderly.

If you have fever with severe aches and pains you probably have the flu. If you have a sore throat and runny nose it is most likely a cold.

Whether you have a cold or flu, it is important to stay home and rest to avoid spreading germs and to help your body recover. If your symptoms last more than a few days or your symptoms are getting severe such as a very high fever or having trouble breathing it is time to see a doctor.

Importance of Sleep

sleep

 

November 1st we turn our clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep, but why is that sleep so important?

Lack of sleep clearly affects our thinking, or cognitive, processes. A sleep-deprived brain is truly running on four rather than eight cylinders. We’re much more likely to make errors. It’s because the brain’s engine hasn’t been replenished.

Sleep deprivation also affects us physically. Our coordination suffers. We lose our ability to do things with agility. Sleep improves muscle tone and skin appearance. With adequate sleep athletes run better, swim better and lift more weight. We also see differences in immune responses depending on how much someone sleeps.

Allergy Season is Here!

allergy season

Winter is barely over and for many Spring is not the glorious season of hope and growth, but weeks of itchy eyes, stuffy noses and congestion.  Allergies affect a large portion of the population. So what causes allergies?

When you’re allergic to something, your immune system mistakenly believes that this substance is harmful to your body. (Substances that cause allergic reactions, such as certain foods, dust, plant pollen, or medicines, are known as allergens.)  The immune system produces IgE antibodies to fight these foreign invaders.  These antibodies release histamine into your blood stream. Histamine causes the reactions in your nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract and causes the symptoms of the allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions can be mild, like a runny nose, or they can be severe, like difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, for example, is often an allergic reaction to something that is breathed into the lungs by a person who is susceptible.

Some types of allergies produce multiple symptoms, and in rare cases, an allergic reaction can become very severe  and a person can go into anaphylaxis which can be life threatening if not taken care of properly

Think avoiding peanuts is the answer to childhood allergies?

 

Think again!

For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

The study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at an American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference in Houston, found that exposing infants like these to peanuts before age 1 actually helped prevent a peanut allergy, lowering the risk of developing a peanut allergy by as much as 81 percent. Instead of provoking an allergy, early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the results “without precedent” and said in a statement that they “have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention.” His agency helped fund the study, the largest and most rigorous test of this concept.

A word of warning, though: The babies in the study were checked to make sure they didn’t already have a peanut allergy before they were fed foods that included peanuts, so parents of babies thought to be at risk for an allergy should not try this on their own.

“Before you even start any kind of introduction these children need to be skin-tested” to prevent life-threatening reactions, said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, an allergy specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Also, small children can choke on whole peanuts, so smooth peanut butter or other peanut-based foods are safer, said Gruchalla, who wrote a commentary on the study in the journal.

The main finding — that early exposure to a problem food may keep it from becoming a long-term problem — should change food guidelines quickly, she predicted.

“Isn’t it wild? It’s counterintuitive in certain ways and in other ways it’s not,” she said.

Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade and now affect more than 2 percent of kids in the United States and growing numbers of them in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Peanuts are the leading cause of food allergy-related severe reactions and deaths. Unlike many other allergies, this one is not outgrown with age.

Food allergies often are inherited, but research suggests they also can develop after birth and that age of exposure may affect whether they do.

American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines used to recommend against giving children foods with peanuts before age 3, but that advice was dropped in 2008 because there was no evidence it was preventing allergies. Now, most parents introduce peanut-based foods as is appropriate for the child’s age, like other solid foods.

Gruchalla thinks that babies with some signs of a peanut allergy risk, such as parents who are allergic, should have a skin test between 4 and 8 months of age. If it’s negative, they should be started on peanut products as the babies in this study were. If they show some sensitivity to peanuts, a “food challenge” monitored by a doctor experienced at this should be tried.

For children who already have peanut allergies, researchers have been experimenting with small regular amounts of exposure to try to train them to tolerate those foods. But these are still experimental and must be done with the help of a doctor.

Of Peanuts and Measles, Which One Is More Dangerous?

Across the country, thousands of schools have quietly, and without fuss, gone on peanut lockdown. Peanut butter has been banned, and foods that may have once seen, or been in a room with a peanut have been sequestered to special rooms, if allowed at all. While some have scoffed, pretty much all of us have accepted that if we can save a child from an allergic reaction, or worse, death, it’s worth the little bit of inconvenience. After all, about 11 Americans each year die of food allergy related deaths.

Sound like a low number? It’s not. Since about 1998, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been tracking the number of food allergy deaths just as they track all the other causes of death across the United States. When someone dies in the US, his death certificate data is pumped into a massive database and indexed according to the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death (ICD-10), a standardized system developed by the World Health Organization. ICD-9, the previous standard, did not have a code for food allergy deaths, but now we have solid data for almost ten years. The underlying number of food allergy deaths according to ICD-10 codes isn’t publicly available in CDC databases because it is so small–statistically insignificant, according to the CDC. More people die each year from lawnmower accidents than from all food allergies combined.

However, as you may have read recently in the news, we are currently in the throes of a measles outbreak, slowly spreading across the United States, largely due to the anti-vaccination movement. People who think nothing of avoiding peanuts are now willing to risk the lives of not only their children, but also themselves, the immune compromised, and even the unborn around them. We urge you to think reasonably, and act responsibly toward your own children, and those around you, when making your healthcare choices.

Before the measles vaccine became available, there were approximately 450,000 measles cases and an average of 450 measles-associated deaths were reported each year.

A simple case of the measles isn’t fun. Measles is highly contagious for one week before and one week after the rash begins. Measles is spread by infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, contaminated objects, and direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. The measles virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of infected people. When they sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air and the droplets remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours.

While simple measles itself is unpleasant, the possibly complications are very real, and can be very dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia, and can die. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and about one out of 1000 will die. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can lead to convulsions, lifelong deafness, or mental retardation. Measles can cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women. These risks are real, but they are VERY preventable!

Our office currently offers ALL recommended vaccines available, including the MMR and MMR booster.

Who should get the MMR vaccine?

Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:

First Dose: 12-15 months of age

Second Dose: 4-6 years of age (may be given earlier, if at least 28 days after the 1st dose)

Some infants younger than 12 months should get a dose of MMR if they are traveling out of the country. (This dose will not count toward their routine series.)

Some adults should also get MMR vaccine: Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show that they have either been vaccinated or had all three diseases.

MMR vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a “combination” vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. There is a separate Vaccine Information Statement for MMRV.

Some people should not get MMR vaccine or should wait. Making sure that those who CAN get the vaccine DO get the vaccine PROTECTS THESE PEOPLE FROM ILLNESS AND DEATH!

Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of MMR vaccine, should not get the vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.

Anyone who had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR or MMRV vaccine should not get another dose.

Some people who are sick at the time the shot is scheduled may be advised to wait until they recover before getting MMR vaccine.

Pregnant women should not get MMR vaccine. Pregnant women who need the vaccine should wait until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with MMR vaccine.

Tell your doctor if the person getting the vaccine:

Has HIV/AIDS, or another disease that affects the immune system

Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids

Has any kind of cancer

Is being treated for cancer with radiation or drugs

Has ever had a low platelet count (a blood disorder)

Has gotten another vaccine within the past 4 weeks

Has recently had a transfusion or received other blood products

Any of these might be a reason to not get the vaccine, or delay vaccination until later.

 

Protect Yourself From the Flu

The CDC is reporting an especially virulent and severe flu this season. The travel, stress and activity of the holidays can weaken your immune system as well as provide a perfect opportunity for germ spreading.  Many people don’t take the flu seriously, but remember it kills thousands and sickens millions each year, but it can be prevented.  So keep these tips in mind as you prepare to return to the office after the holidays.

Ways you can prevent getting the flu:

  1. Get the flu shot: The most effective defense against the flu is the flu shot. While they are usually a must for those who are most vulnerable (the young, the old and those with compromised immune systems), getting the flu shot can not only keep you healthy, but your loved ones healthy as well.  The flu shot is safe, effective and easily available through your doctor or pharmacy.
  2. Wash your hands often: This should be a no brainer.  It sounds so simple, but soap and water are the constant companions of doctors and nurses. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It doesn’t matter if the water’s hot or cold — the very act of scrubbing will physically remove the germs. If a sink isn’t readily accessible invest in an alcohol based hand sanitizer and use it after each time you come into contact with someone.
  3. Sanitize your environment- Germy fingers touch plenty of surfaces in your home and work. Wipe down phones, keyboards, doorknobs, sinks with Lysol or any common household disinfectant especially in the bathroom and kitchen!
  4. Eat Well & Stay Rested- Keep your immune system in tip top shape, eat healthy and get plenty of rest.
  5. If you are sick, stay home!- If your employees are sick, make them stay home.  One sick person can infect many more.

Holiday Heart

‘Tis the season, and with the holidays comes celebration, excess of food, family, friends and often alcohol.  For most people, their bodies are not used to the end of the year excess. As a result a condition, commonly referred to as Holiday Heart can happen to those who experience a little too much holiday cheer.

Holiday Heart is caused by atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disturbance. Patients will experience the sudden onset of rapid heart rate, palpitations, and often dizziness or shortness of breath.

Another cause of Holiday Heart could be an unusual sensitivity to alcohol consumption. This phenomenon, atrial fibrillation after an episode of binge drinking, is the most common cause of Holiday Heart, and doctors are generally well aware of this condition.

Sometimes however, people are simply extremely sensitive to alcohol, such that even moderate amounts – two or three drinks, and sometimes a single drink – can trigger Holiday Heart. In these cases doctors should carefully examine whether the episode could be related to alcohol consumption. And doctors who treat patients with this condition should be careful to ask about even minor exposure to alcohol. Making the proper diagnosis may spare the patient from inappropriate treatments.