Category Archives: flu season

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. In addition, doctors tell me that if you get the flu after the shot, it is a less virulent dose and you recover faster, also you don’t spread flu germs as much as an unvaccinnated person.

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.

The flu is hardy and can survive on surfaces for a day. A common way to catch it is to touh your face after  you touch an infected surface. Pay attention and don’t touch your face before washing your 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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Boost Your Immune System And Ward Off Viruses With These Foods

I hope this will be helpful to you. Seems the entire country is under attack by the flu. When I was only concerned about weight loss, I learned that diet was bout 75 percent of the battle. Seems the same for the immune system. too.

Our Better Health

Chicken soup helps, sure, but a diet rich in vegetables, fish and even garlic can help lessen the severity of a cold or prevent you from getting sick.

The combination of chicken, homemade broth, veggies (such as carrots, celery and onions) and noodles or rice in chicken soup is immune-boosting and soothing, and the warm broth clears your nasal passages and keeps you hydrated.

Winter doesn’t just bring the blues, it also gifts us with coughs, runny noses and sore throats. It’s not because of the old adage of bundling up or “you’ll catch a cold!” We tend to get more cold and flu viruses during the winter as germs survive longer indoors due to poor ventilation and lack of humidity, and we are stuck indoors for much longer during the frigid months.

There’s a key to rev up our immune system that can make a huge difference: you are…

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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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Flu season is here … getting a shot?

Flu season is here.

Of all the subjects I write about the flu shot seems to be one of the most incendiary. Forget politics, President Trump and Hollywood sex perverts, flu shots really get under peoples’ skin. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. Anyway, I will be turning 78 in January and I get a flu shot every year. I started around 20 years ago when I was teaching journalism and one of my students wrote a piece on flu shots. She interviewed a senior lady who said that she had been getting flu shots for years and, not only had she not gotten the flu, she hadn’t even had a cold since she started. That was enough for me. I hope you get one, too.

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The contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs can cause mild to severe illness and at times may lead to death. People of every age — including people in good health — are at risk for flu.

Approximately 970,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2014, and more than 40 million were affected by flu-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although a majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, even healthy young children and younger adults can have severe disease or even die from influenza. Nearly 100 deaths from influenza among children are reported each year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

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Frequently asked questions about colds and the flu – Harvard

Since we are in/entering cold/flu season, I thought this was some timely information from Harvard HealthBeat. I hope you make it through the entire season without needing any of the tips.

 

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Here are the answers to six commonly asked questions about colds and the flu.

Q. When should I stay home from work or keep my child home from school?

A. Use your judgment to determine when you are feeling too sick to go to work or when your child is feeling too sick to go to school. It is important to stay home when you are most contagious. For colds, you are contagious the entire time you have symptoms, but you are most contagious right after you contract the viral infection, before you even have symptoms. For the flu, adults are most infectious from the day before symptoms start until about the fifth day of symptoms.

Q. When should I see my doctor?

A. If you experience any of the common flu symptoms or if your symptoms do not go away as quickly as you would expect, see your doctor.

Q. How can I avoid passing my cold or flu on to my family?

A. There are many steps you can take to try to avoid spreading germs to the people around you. Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, either with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Throw used tissues away immediately, ideally into a toilet where they can be flushed away without anyone else touching them. Wash your hands often, especially after you sneeze, cough, or touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your distance from others—don’t kiss, hug, or stand so close to someone that saliva might get on them when you talk. Make sure someone is disinfecting household surfaces and items frequently, including children’s toys.

Q. Why do colds and the flu increase in the winter?

A. Cold weather itself does not cause colds, but people are more likely to stay indoors and spread cold germs to one another when it’s cold outside. There is emerging evidence that influenza spreads most efficiently at low temperatures and in low humidity, which may explain why cases of the flu increase so much in the winter.

Q. Is there any truth to the old saying “Feed a cold; starve a fever”?

A. No. When you have a cold or the flu, you should be sure to eat healthful foods and drink plenty of fluids, but there is no need to eat more or less than usual.

Q. Is it okay to get a flu shot when I have a cold?

A. Yes, you can get vaccinated when you have a cold as long as you are not feeling very sick and do not have a fever.

To learn more about colds, flus and related illnesses as well as the best ways to prevent them, you can order the Harvard Medical School Guide: Cold and Flu.

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Female Sex Hormone May Protect Women From Worst Effects of the Flu

Okay, guys, please don’t be turned off to reading this because it applies only to women, you may well have a wife, mother or other loved one who can benefit from this information. This is flu season and we need all the help we can get. In case you need a booster, please check out my Page – How to fight the flu for more.

In mouse studies, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that progesterone – a female sex hormone contained in most forms of hormone-based birth control – appears to stave off the worst effects of influenza infection and, in an unexpected finding, help damaged lung cells to heal more quickly.

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The findings, published in PLOS Pathogens, suggest that sex hormones have an effect far beyond the reproductive system and that progesterone may one day be a viable flu treatment for women.

The World Health Organization  (WHO) reports that more than 100 million young adult women around the world are on progesterone-based contraception. And women of reproductive age are twice as likely as men to suffer from complications related to the influenza virus. Continue reading

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On flu shots and blood work

Last Thursday, I posted Tips on fighting the flu. I thought it was a good time for these tips as we are entering flu season. Also, I had an appointment to get my own flu shot on the following day. Please check out that post as there is a lot of good information in it for you relevant to protecting yourself from the flu bugs eating away at your system. Also, Dr. Jonathan, who writes the blog All About Healthy Choices had some very informed ideas on fighting the flu which he offered in comments.

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I know that there is a division of opinion about getting flu shots. I think flu shots, like politics, religion and labor unions are third rail conversational topics. Some people swear by flu shots (me) and some swear at them. The decision is yours, of course.  I would offer anecdotally that I started getting them around 16 years ago when I was teaching journalism at Northwestern University. One of my students interviewed a senior citizen who said that she had been getting flu shots for 10 years and in that time she had not only not caught the flu, but she didn’t even catch a cold. That was good enough for me. I have been getting them ever since with similar results. Continue reading

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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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Dispelling Myths About Flu Shots

For most people the flu shot is free, either because they have a government insurance plan such as MediCare or MediCruz, or they have private insurance.

I feel strongly that everyone should get a flu shot. Please read my Page: How to Fight the Flu for more.

Tony

Valley Doctor

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It’s time for me to make my annual plea for everyone to get their flu shot. In today’s column, I’d like to answer common questions I hear about influenza and the flu shot.

– Can’t I get the flu from the flu shot?

This is a very common myth and proven to be wrong. You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccines that are given by needle are made with viruses that are killed (inactivated), and cannot cause an influenza infection.

– I’ve had the flu shot previously and I got the flu anyhow.

This is possible, but not likely, in that no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

– I’ve never had a flu shot and have never had the flu.

Consider yourself lucky, and as in most cases, one’s luck will usually wear out. Don’t take a chance, this could be the year.

– The…

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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.
images

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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