Category Archives: flu season

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.

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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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Tips on Fighting Off a Cold – Mayo Clinic

I have written repeatedly about the flu and protecting yourself from it this season. It is also worth mentioning that this is cold season as well. A lot of folks are suffering from the common cold.
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The Mayo Clinic has some worthwhile suggestions on fighting a cold virus if you succumb.

Dr. Robert Sheeler, Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter has the following to say about handling cold symptoms.

“Being sick with a cold virus for a week or two doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. These remedies may help:
• Fluids — Drink plenty of liquids. Water, juice, clear broth, or warm water with lemon juice and honey can help loosen congestion.
• Saltwater gargle — To relieve a sore or scratchy throat, gargle with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Continue reading

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Flu Season

Good info to have during flu season.

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People suffering from the flu can give off small virus particles into the air at greater distances than previously thought, putting the health care workers who treat these patients at increased risk for getting the virus themselves, researchers report.

The investigators, from Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, suggest that more studies are needed on how the flu is spread. Infection-control guidelines for health care providers may also need to be updated to help these workers protect their health.

The study was published in the current edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“Our study offers new evidence of the natural emission of influenza and may provide a better understanding of how to best protect health care providers during routine care activities,” the researchers, led by Dr. Werner Bischoff, wrote in the report.

For the study, Bischoff’s team screened 94 patients with flu symptoms who were admitted…

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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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A Doctor Visit in Flu Season

Having written about flu season for the past few months, when I started getting head cold symptoms last week and got nervous. In addition, an arctic freeze struck Chicago which has kept me off my bike. I found that working out in the health club, I was feeling really wiped out from a light workout. I actually napped afterwards. That and the head cold symptoms were enough for me. I booked a doctor visit. Mr. Conservative wasn’t taking any chances. I had gotten my flu shot early, but didn’t want to take any chances.  As I recommended to readers, I had gotten my flu shot early, but didn’t want to take any chances. You can read further on How to Fight the Flu elsewhere in the blog.

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Here’s how bad the weather has been, “Chicago’s coldest blast of air in 2 years is easing—but slowly. By midnight Tuesday, the area moved into a 55th consecutive hour of sub-20-degree thermometer readings and 46 hours with wind chills below zero. Tuesday’s 11-degree high and 1-below morning low put the day into the record books as the city’s coldest of the past two years,” according to the blog of Tom Skilling, the awesome local meteorologist.

The walk to the doctor’s office over a mile was a bracing start to the day. Continue reading

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Overseas Tips on Fighting the Flu – London Daily Mail Online

The U.S. isn’t the only place afflicted by the current flu outbreak. The web version of London’s Daily Mail also takes up the battle.
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Mail Online has a raft of suggestions on how a person can fortify him/herself against that nasty flu.

My personal favorite, as regular readers know, is to get a flu shot. Here’s what the Mail says, “The Department of Health is urging all those in ‘at risk’ categories to have free flu vaccinations. These include everyone aged 65 and over, people of all ages with chronic heart disease, respiratory conditions like asthma and those with diabetes. People living in nursing homes and NHS healthcare workers are also encouraged to have the jab.”

Our shot is their jab.
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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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Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker Recommends Flu Shots

Regular readers know that I feel very strongly about getting a flu shot to kick off flu season. You can read Should I Get a Flu Shot? and also Flu Season Starting Early This Year.

This photo of Oleda was taken last year when she was 77.

This photo of Oleda was taken last year when she was 77.

So, I was particularly gratified when I got this wonderful confirmation from Oleda Baker, former supermodel and breathtaking example of good health and excellent aging. In an interview which will see the light of day tomorrow morning on the blog, she said she was in complete agreement with me, “I have gotten a flu shot every single year since I was 38 yrs old that is 40 years.”

I related to Oleda that when I was teaching journalism at Northwestern University, one of my students wrote a story on seniors getting flu shots. One lady said that she had been getting flu shots for 10 years and had not had the flu in that period nor had she even gotten a cold. I said that I started getting flu shots religiously after that. In fact, I have only contracted one cold in the 20 years that I have been getting vaccinated.

Oleda responded, “I think the shot helps us in more ways than just flu.”

Perhaps they cause our bodies to build antibodies that fight off germs generally. I don’t know. As far as I am concerned flu shots work. I wouldn’t dream of disagreeing with Oleda.

If you would like to learn more about Oleda’s suggestions for beauty, health and anti-aging check her website here.

Tony

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Flu Season Starting Early This Year – Get a Flu Shot

Flu activity continues to increase across the United States. The nation is experiencing an early flu season, the earliest since 2003, with high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions at this time. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urge you to get a flu vaccine now if you have not done so already this season. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk from flu complications.

Back in October, I wrote about my trip to the doctor for a flu shot and tried to convince you to do likewise.

Now, Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter reports that the U.S. new cases of flu have gone from a few hundred a week to more than a thousand.

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The CDC reports that five children have died from it.

Catching the flu is not fun. Ms. Godman reports that flu is “a highly contagious and potentially deadly respiratory disease. Some years the outbreak is relatively mild, other years it is severe. Deaths range from 3,000 a year to nearly 50,000, and about 200,000 people end up in the hospital each year. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

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