Category Archives: flu shot

First exposure to flu virus sets our immunity for life – Study

Were you born in an H1N1 year or an H3N2 year? The first type of influenza virus we are exposed to in early childhood dictates our ability to fight the flu for the rest of our lives, according to a new study from a team of infectious disease researchers at McMaster University and Université de Montréal.

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The findings, published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, provide compelling new evidence to support the phenomenon known as ‘antigenic imprinting’, which suggests that early exposure to one of the two flu strains that circulate every year imprints itself on our immunity and disproportionately affects the body’s lifelong response to the flu. Continue reading

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Coronavirus Q and A – Rush Medical

I don’t know about you, but I have been totally freaked out over this new coronavirus. I cancelled my trip to Las Vegas at the end of this month because of it. So, I was most pleased to run across this Q and A from Rush University Medical Center.

An outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has caused worry among people all around the world. While there are no confirmed cases of the novel virus at Rush University Medical Center, Rush is committed to preparing for any possible scenario and answering any questions patients might have concerning the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.

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So what is this virus? Should Americans be afraid of a possible outbreak? What can we do in terms from prevention?

Here, Michael Lin, MD, MPH, an infectious disease specialist, and Alexander Tomich, DNP, associate vice president of regulatory and clinical effectiveness, discuss the outbreak and what it means for the everyday American. You also can hear their conversation on the Medical Center’s podcast, “The Rush Cast.”

What is coronavirus?

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Don’t forget the current flu …

With the coronavirus hitting the headlines, let’s keep in mind our own local U.S. situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting high activity of influenza and influenza-like illnesses across the country. In its latest report, the CDC estimates that during this season in the United States, 9.7 million cases of flu have been diagnosed, 32 children and 4,800 adults have died due to influenza.

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* CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

I couldn’t agree more. See my It’s time to get that flu shot post from October.

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4 Tips for staying healthy this winter

Colder temperatures, inclement weather, reductions in the amount of daylight, and the spread of cold and flu viruses can all have a significant impact on your winter well-being, making it more challenging for you to stay safe and healthy.

Here are four important tips and tricks to help you cope with the cold weather, care for your immune system, and stay active until spring arrives, from Western Connecticut Medical Group.

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Tip 1: Prepare in Advance

A little prevention in the fall can help everyone — and especially older adults — avoid serious wintertime accidents. Precautions include preventing falls by installing handrails and fixing uneven or steep stairs before the weather turns cold and icy.

Fall is also a great time to work on increasing your flexibility. Increasing your flexibility decreases your risk of falling. And if you do fall, flexibility helps to decrease the severity of the injury. Stretching several times a week can improve your flexibility. Traditional stretching, yoga, tai chi, or Pilates are all great ways to stay flexible. Continue reading

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It’s time to get that flu shot

It’s time to get that flu shot.

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. There are approximately 4000 posts in here. I think one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should, too.

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While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. flu-burden-cases.png

The following is excerpted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

How do flu vaccines work? Continue reading

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Flu prevention tips

I truly believe that old saw “an ounce of prevention ….” So, here are some super positive ideas about protecting yourself from flu this season. Good luck!

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Tony

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Regular flu shots may save heart failure patients’ lives – Study

I get a flu shot every year and recommend it for everyone, particularly seniors. I started doing it in the ’90’s when I was teaching journalism. One of my students wrote them up and a senior citizen told her than since getting flu shots she not only hadn’t got the flu, but she didn’t even catch colds any more. Now, it turns out that the shots are also a benefit for heart failure patients.

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Getting an annual flu shot can save heart failure patients’ lives, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. Continue reading

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Eat These Foods To Prevent The Flu

I like this post. Consider it another arrow in your quiver against the flu this season. I wrote recently about getting my flu shot and recommended that you do the same. Here are some more good ideas to help get you through the coming five or so months.

Tony

Let's Discuss Nutrition

cold comfort cover cute

Flu season is almost here and often a flu shot and taking vitamin C isn’t enough. Aside from mitigating stress and getting enough sleep, it’s important to pay attention to nutrition. Here’s what you should be eating for flu prevention:

basket of mushrooms

Hello mushrooms! These fungi contain glucans, a polysaccharide that enhances natural killer cells in the body. In order to optimize the immune-boosting benefits of mushrooms, eat a variety such as shiitake, white button, and maitake.

onion and garlic on white surface

No more crying. Garlic, onions, shallots, and chives have been shown to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Onions have properties that increase white blood cell counts needed to fight off pathogens. Why not saute mushrooms and onions for a double whammy of these immune fighting foods?

sliced kiwi fruits

A cup of kiwi blows citrus out of the water, with 273% of your daily value of…

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Flu shot time

I have been writing this blog since March 2010. I have produced a total of more than 3700 posts in that period. I think one of the most incendiary topics in that entire time is … flu shots. I get one every year. My doctor tells me to. I listen to her and I got one on Friday. I think you should too.

While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. flu-burden-cases.png

The following is excerpted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

Continue reading

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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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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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