Category Archives: flu deaths

How you need to fight the flu

The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S. This season it is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago, according to Medical Xpress.

A government report out Friday shows one of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That ties the highest level seen in the U.S. during swine flu in 2009.

And it surpasses every winter flu season since 2003, when the government changed the way it measures flu.

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Here are two of my weapons for fighting the flu.

“I wish that there were better news this week, but almost everything we’re looking at is bad news,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu season usually takes off in late December and peaks around February. This season started early and was widespread in many states by December. Early last month, it hit what seemed like peak levels—but then continued to surge.

The season has been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other more common flu bugs. Still, its long-lasting intensity has surprised experts, who are still sorting out why it’s been so bad. One possibility is that the vaccine is doing an unusually poor job; U.S. data on effectiveness is expected next week.

I have written an entire page on fighting the flu which you can access here – How to fight the flu. For the record, I recommend flu shots. I know that this is an emotional hot button for people, so if you are against them fine. Your call. I am aware that this year’s flu shot was off as far as nailing the virus and it has been called only 10 percent effective. Okay, that is not as good as the usual round of vaccinations, but I will still take it against no shot.

I would like to conclude with a very down to earth recommendation that I hope you will heed. Keep your hands clean. You can bring flu bugs into your body by touching a dirty surface and moving your hands to your face. The virus enters through your open mouth, nose and eyes. If you ride public transportation, wear gloves to hold on to the strap or pole. You don’t know who held it previously or what germs they were carrying. Likewise, in your public dealings. I live in a high rise building. So, I touch a lot of surfaces, elevator buttons, door handles, etc. that others touch. So, I am carrying hand wipes as well as a liquid disinfectant that I rub on my hands.

Here is what the CDC says about flu germs spread:

Person to Person

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

The Flu Is Contagious

Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

We have long weeks ahead of us till the flu threat abates, stay clean.

Tony

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Cold vs. flu symptoms – WebMD

The country appears to be under siege from the flu this year. Schools are closing in some states to protect children. The flu vaccine appears to have been formulated in a way that it is not a protective as usual. You have every reason to be concerned about your health these days. No one wants to come down with the flu. On the other hand, you might just have a cold. How do you tell the difference? WebMD offers the following infographic to help  you answer that question.

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Finally, I have found it valuable to be very careful of where I put my hands these days. You can buy antiseptic hand wipes cheaply from Amazon and your local drug store. I recommend that you buy them and use them often. Be careful where you put your hands. It is winter so you can wear gloves and use them for opening doors, wear them riding the bus or train. Those strap hangers and poles on your ride to work can be breeding ground for bacteria. 

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Tony

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Food to Fight The Flu: Fact Vs Fiction

I stumbled across this post in my web wanderings and thought it had a lot of good solid nutritional information in it that seemed very appropriate considering that winter seems to have arrived full force.

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Tony

Osinga Nutrition | Registered Dietitian in the Durham Region

 “Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine” – Hippocrates

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Beware of Germs as Flu Season Ends

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly flu report said Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin reported low influenza-like illness, while the remaining 42 states reported minimal influenza-like illness, according to the UPI.

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A total of 65 influenza related pediatric deaths were reported in the 2013-2014 flu season.

Besides the obvious flu shot which I recommend strongly at the beginning of the flu season, I wanted to pass along some others which are a good idea to observe year ’round to remain healthy.

We share our world with lots of germs which can be very damaging to our health. WebMD
offered the following suggestions on navigating this germy world:

1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water. It can dislodge germs and send them down the drain.

2. Carry hand sanitizer. It’s handy if you can’t wash your hands, especially if you’re touching surfaces that other people use, like ATM keyboards, elevator buttons, and door handles.

3. Let something else do the touching. If you’re in a germy place, like a doctor’s office building or your child’s day care, press elevator buttons with your elbow, and use a paper towel to open bathroom doors and flush toilets. Only use banisters or escalator handrails if you need to for balance.  Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, so that germs on your hands don’t enter your body.

4. Wipe down shared surfaces. Use your hand sanitizer or a package of sanitizing wipes to clean off spots such as food court tables (they’re often just wiped down with a rag that only spreads germs around) or the desk or phones in shared office spaces.

5. Leave the germs outside. When you come home, take off your shoes and wash your hands. That’s a family rule for Bridget Boyd, MD, director of the newborn nursery at Chicago’s Loyola University Health Center. “My husband and I are both in the health care field, and my son goes to day care, so who knows what’s on our shoes?” she says. “But it makes sense for anyone. It’s a good idea to wash off germs and dirt when you come home.”

Tony

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Flu Shot May Cut Risk of Stroke, Too – NIH

Regular readers know I feel very strongly that getting a flu shot is a good idea and greatly increases our chances of missing out on this annual disease. I have an entire page on flu shot related items.

Now, the National Institutes of Health publication HealthDay reports that getting a seasonal flu shot “might also significantly reduce your risk of stroke.

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“We know that cardiovascular diseases tend to hit during winter, and that the risks may be heightened by respiratory infections such as flu. Our study showed a highly significant association between flu vaccination and reduced risk of stroke within the same flu season,” said lead investigator Niro Siriwardena, a professor in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln in England.”

I always start advising personal friends as well as readers to get their flu shot in October to be protected for the entire season. That turns out to be a good thing as the study authors said stroke risk reduction was strongest if a person received a shot early in the flu season.

To read more on this season’s flu type in the word flu in the box and the right and click search.

Tony

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CDC Reports Flu Hit Younger People Particularly Hard This Season

Vaccination lowered risk of having to go to the doctor by about 60 percent for people of all ages

This influenza season was particularly hard on younger- and middle-age adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). People age 18-64 represented 61 percent of all hospitalizations from influenza—up from the previous three seasons when this age group represented only about 35 percent of all such hospitalizations. Influenza deaths followed the same pattern; more deaths than usual occurred in this younger age group.

A second report in this week’s MMWR showed that influenza vaccination offered substantial protection against the flu this season, reducing a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 60 percent across all ages.

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“Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The good news is that this season’s vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups.”

U.S. flu surveillance data suggests that flu activity is likely to continue for a number of weeks, especially in places where activity started later in the season. Some states that saw earlier increases in flu activity are now seeing decreases. Other states are still seeing high levels of flu activity or continued increases in activity.

While flu is responsible for serious illness and death every season, the people who are most affected can vary by season and by the predominant influenza virus. The currently circulating H1N1 virus emerged in 2009 to trigger a pandemic, which was notable for high rates of hospitalization and death in younger- and middle-aged people. While H1N1 viruses have continued to circulate since the pandemic, this is the first season since the pandemic they have been predominant in the U.S. Once again, the virus is causing severe illness in younger- and middle-aged people. Continue reading

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Flu Outbreaks Spike – CDC

As if the current bone-chilling cold snap (can you say Polar Vortex?) weren’t enough to worry about six days into the new year, flu outbreaks have spiked in the latest week, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately for those of us affected by the cold, it aggravates the situation. As we huddle together to keep warm, we help to spread the virus, according to Dr. Manny Alvarez on Fox News. In addition, “the immune system in your body doesn’t work properly when you have temperatures below zero,” also “viruses love the cold and wet,” he concluded.

Some 25 states are now reporting widespread flu outbreaks. This is a jump of 10 from the previous week.

So far, two children died as a result of flu this week. The total now stands at six flu-associated pediatric deaths.

Click on map for enlarged view.

Click on map for enlarged view.

It appears that the current virulent strain is striking the young and middle-aged very hard.

Despite the apparent lateness in the season, doctors say it is still not too late to get your flu shot. Doctors report that it reduces your risk of catching the flu by 70 percent.

The map displays the widespread nature of the flu till December 28, the latest graphic data available.

I have written repeatedly about combating the flu. You can read details on my Page – How to fight the flu.

Here are some FLU PREVENTION TIPS:

Avoid close contact with sick people.

Cover sneezes and coughs with tissue or crook of elbow, not hands.

Wash hands often with soap and water.

Drink plenty of fluids, but not alcohol.

Get a flu shot.

Tony

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Tips on Fighting the Flu – WebMD

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized every year and between 3,000 and 50,000 deaths occur due to flu. There is a good chance that these statistics would improve dramatically if more people got  a flu shot.
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WebMD queried doctors on flu prevention and reported that doctors had the following recommendations on fighting the flu.:

Wash your hands to keep germs away. “I wash my hands or use a hand sanitizer before and after every patient,” says Christopher Tolcher, MD, a pediatrician in the Los Angeles area and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

“Hands are veritable germ factories, so keep them away from your nose and mouth. Also keep them away from your food during cold and flu season.”

They also recommended alcohol based cleansers and antiseptic wipes.

Exercise for Immunity“I try to get 20 to 30 minutes of cardio every morning before I go to work,” Fryhofer says. “There’s something about making your heart pump that’s good for your body. It strengthens your heart and strengthens your immune system,”   says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, MACP, clinical associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and a general internist in Atlanta.

Chicken soup Although doctors use over-the-counter drugs when their symptoms are severe, they only do it sparingly. They recommend nice hot chicken soup because the vapor clears nasal passages and relieves throbbing in the sinuses

The key is prevention
The experts agree that prevention is the key. They all say that a flu shot is essential and they recommend staying in the best health year-round.

Regular readers already know that I strongly favor getting a flu shot and early in the season. That would be late September or early October. It usually takes the vaccine two weeks to start working. As flu season extends into the new year, the vaccine should be effective for several months of protection.

To read further on flu fighting check out my page How to Fight the Flu.

Tony

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Some excellent tips here …. You have to resist the temptation to ‘make up for lost time.’ Let your body recover. Don’t set yourself back.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Although physical activity can help boost your immune system, people who are sick should tone down their workout or skip it altogether, experts advise.

“Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress and sleep better at night. This helps boost your immune system. However, vigorous exercise and extreme conditioning can have a negative impact on your health if you’re sick,” Joe Berg, a personal trainer and fitness specialist at Loyola Center for Health, said in a Loyola University news release.

“When fighting a viral illness, it’s best to keep your exercise session short and not as intense. If you have a fever or stomach bug it might be best to hold off,” Berg added.

For those recovering from an illness, it’s best to ease back into a workout routine slowly. Berg recommends starting small with some light aerobics, such as walking and cycling at an easy pace as well…

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What is the Difference Between Cold Symptoms and Flu Symptoms?

Regular readers know that I have really pushed about getting a flu shot this season. You can read more about How to Fight the Flu by clicking the link at the top of this page. Also, I went to the doctor on Tuesday of this week with cold symptoms that I wanted to check on.

So, I am pleased to tell you about an item in the weekend edition of USA Today on how to tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms.
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They based their item on The Doctors TV show. Here are the three ways to tell if you are suffering from a cold or flu.

“Flu comes with a fever. This may be your first (and perhaps more obvious) clue: The common cold rarely causes body temperature to rise. A high fever, however, is characteristic of the flu — it usually runs between 100 degrees and 102 degrees (or higher, especially in kids) and lasts three to four days. Headaches also more commonly occur with the flu, not as much with a cold. If your first signs are a runny nose, scratchy throat and sneezing, that’s most likely a cold. Those symptoms tend to develop more slowly, while the flu usually comes on suddenly.”
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Hand-washing is Another Weapon in our Anti-Flu Arsenal

Another weapon in our arsenal against the flu. To read further on the flu:

Flu Season Update – Worst in 10 Years

Oleda Baker Recommends Flu Shot

Flu Season Starting Early This Year

Meditation or Exercise Can Reduce Flu Symptoms

Should I Get a Flu Shot?

Green Tea Helps to Fight Flu

Flu Shot Effect Diminished by Extra Weight

Overseas Tips on Fighting the Flu- London Daily Mail Online.

Tony

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Some Steps to Prevent the Flu From Catching You

First of all, as I have recommended several times here, get that flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest everyone over the age of 6 months get one.

I took a course from The Great Courses entitled “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.” The professor stated that for people over 65 influenza is the most common preventable cause of death. Additionally, vaccinations in adults could prevent about 80% of all influenza deaths.

Besides your flu shot there are other good actions you can take that reduce your likelihood of coming down with the flu.

2307429541_2a7d43048a_zThe CDC  recommends the following:

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

If you come down with the flu, the CDC says to take antiviral drugs if your doctor provides them.

• If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
• Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors , treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
• Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
• Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Tony

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Flu Outbreak Worsening

This flu season is shaping up as one of the worst cold and flu seasons in 10 years. More than 40 states reporting widespread doctor visits and hospitalizations for influenza, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

Some doctors have reported that last year’s mild flu season has reduced demand for vaccinations this year. Hospitals in Chicago and Boston are turning patients away. Some hospitals in Dallas have run out of flu vaccine.

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Searches on Google’s Flu Tracker have risen sharply every week since the start of December and stand more than 200 percent higher than last year.

January and February are the worst months for flu, so it is still early in the season.

I took a course from The Great Courses entitled “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.” The professor stated that for people over 65 influenza is the most common preventable cause of death. Additionally, vaccinations in adults could prevent about 80% of all influenza deaths.

Finally, if you have something new and different occurring in your body tell your doctor about it. Getting out in front of disease can keep you alive longer. It puts the odds of staying healthy way in your favor.

I have written a number of items on getting flu shots. Please check them out and get a flu shot.

Flu Season Starting Early This Year

Should I Get a Flu Shot?


Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker Recommends Getting a Flu Shot

Tony

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Flu Season is Coming; Time to Get Your Flu Shot

No matter where you live, please get your flu shot. I have written repeatedly about the importance of getting that shot.

Tony

Peninsula Regional Medical Center Health Blog

The Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s flu report shows a jump in influenza cases in recent weeks. According to state statistics, the flu caused 11.5 percent of  visits to major Maryland health care providers during the week ending December 29, up from 4 percent the previous week. Maryland flu rates are now considered high, and cases are widespread throughout the state.

The Wicomico County Health Department and the Worcester County Health Department are encouraging residents to get vaccinated against the flu virus and can help you get the shot – call them or click on the links for more. Somerset County has flu clinics scheduled throughout January – go here to see the schedule.

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Flu Season Picking Up

We are experiencing an early flu season this year, the earliest since 2003.  There is good news in that the Centers for Disease Control reports that this year’s vaccine is a very good match for the common strains circulating. I repeat my suggestion of October 10, “Get a flu shot.”

With that in mind, I wondered what are a body’s chances of coming down with it. WebMD, gives some really useful statistics on the flu.

Of particular interest to seniors, are:

• One of the national health objectives for 2010 included getting 90% of people over age 65 and all nursing home residents vaccinated.
• In 2008, the estimated vaccination levels for people over age 65 was: 70% for non-Hispanic whites, 52% for non-Hispanic blacks, and 52% for Hispanics.”

I took a course from The Great Courses entitled “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.”  The professor, Dr. Anthony Goodman, stated that for people over 65 influenza is the most common preventable cause of death. Additionally, vaccinations in adults could prevent about 80% of all influenza deaths.

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For the general population:

• Percentage of the U.S. population that will get the flu, on average, each year: between 5% and 20%.
• Number of Americans hospitalized each year because of flu complications: 200,000 on average.
• The number of people who die each year from flu-related causes in the U.S.: varies with a range of 3,000-49,000 people yearly
• In the U.S., influenza and pneumonia were the eighth leading cause of death in 2007.
• Number of flu vaccine doses available in the U.S. for the 2010-2011 flu season: 160 million to 165 million.
• In 2010, the CDC began recommending that everyone over six months of age get a flu vaccine as soon as it’s available.
• Flu activity usually peaks in January and February.
• The 2010-2011 flu vaccine protects against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that caused the 2009 pandemic.
• It takes about two weeks after vaccination for an adult to develop antibodies against the flu.
• The typical incubation period for the flu is one to four days. Adults can be contagious from the day before symptoms begin through five to 10 days after the illness starts.
• A regular case of the flu typically resolves after three to seven days for the majority of people, although cough and fatigue can persist for more than two weeks.

Tony

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