New Mothers – 10 Health Tips for Women After Delivery

December 29, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=HNZbVU4-Ksk%3Fversion%3D3%26f%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

This video features 10 health tips for new mothers. These recommendations are based on expert clinical guidelines published in UpToDate online version 19.3, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This video was produced by Nicholas Cohen, MD in 2011.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

YouTips4U – Herbal Health Tips for When You’re Sick to Help You Get Well Fast – Flu Season Herbs

January 15, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ucILAwkQ4%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

To purchase a YouTips4U Custom Designed T-Shirt, please click here: cgi.ebay.com For more helpful tips, or if you have any questions, please visit www.youtips4u.blogspot.com Hi, in the video I share with you what I do to get well quicker when I am sick with a cold or flu. I am a big believer in herbal teas to help relieve symptoms, boost my immunity and speed my recovery. I share with you three products that I use that I think you will find very helpful next time you are feeling ill with a cold or flu. I believe in the healing effects of herbal teas, tinctures, liquids and capsules. Herbs have been around for centuries and many of the over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceuticals we use have not. I always take the natural approach whenever I can. Use them when you need them only so you don’t overdue it. Please SUBSCRIBE because I have lots more helpful videos to come including more herbal tip videos. Thanks so much for viewing and I always love your comments

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

What’s the latest on the flu vaccine?

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Here are some updates on the flu vaccine.

NIAID Media Availability: A Flu Vaccine that Lasts
Why do we have to get the flu shot every year? Because each year, the strains of the influenza-causing virus are different and the vaccine manufacturers try their best to keep up with the rapidly evolving strains. However, this process of constantly producing new vaccines for the seasonal flu is costly and time-consuming, not to mention getting on the nerves of the public. But hopefully, this will change eventually. Scientists at teh National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking into the possibility of making a universal influenza vaccine, a vaccine which would confer long-lasting immunity. Scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believe this could be possible someday.
“Making such a universal influenza vaccine is feasible but licensing it may require innovation on several fronts, including finding new ways to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates in clinical trials.”

Bacteria Seek to Topple the Egg as Top Flu Vaccine Tool
The process of vaccine is dependent upon chicken eggs. Fertilized eggs are used as live medium to grown the viruses. But this may about to change. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have developed a process of making flu vaccines grown entirely on bacteria – thus bypassing the egg completely. According to research leader Dr. John Treanor:

“There are a number of problems with using eggs to produce flu vaccine. It’s a very specialized product. It’s hard to make more eggs in a hurry – you only get them as fast as hens lay them. They’re not easy to manipulate, and it can be challenging to get the flu virus to grow within an egg. The flu vaccine system would be more flexible and reliable if we didn’t have to rely on them.”

This is also good news for those with egg allergies who may have problems tolerating the vaccine.

2009 H1N1 vaccine safe and induces robust immune response in people with asthma
People with asthma were among those who were seriously affected by the 2009 H1N1 flu. Researcher have analyzed clinical data of the effect of the H1N1 influenza vaccine on those who had asthma and reported the following findings:

“The Flu ends with ‘U’”

December 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

The FLU ends with “U”. That is the current slogan of the Flu Vaccination Week in the US.

 Pregnant women urged to have the flu vaccine

Pregnant women are pretty wary of taking medications. With good reason. Many medications can affect the growing baby in the womb that can lead to fetal malformation, preterm labor or still birth. A well-known case was that of thalidomide in 1950s which caused tens of thousands of cases of birth defects. Hence in most cases, women are not supposed to take any medications during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary.

However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in US are asking pregnant women to make an exception when it comes to the seasonal influenza vaccine. ACOG and ACIP are recommending that pregnant women should have flu shot regardless in which trimester they are in. Health authorities are assuring these women that the shot is safe and will provide protection for them and their unborn child.

Flu: What Seniors Need to Know

Another special group of people urged to get flu shots are the senior citizens. Early last month, the US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) organized a webcast wherein senior Americans could address their questions about the flu to the health experts, including US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Info on flu prevention especially addressed to elderly adults aged 65 and older is available on the flu.gov site. The 3 key recommendations are:

Kids and Flu: Elmo helps out

A public service announcement from the HHS will be sure to get the flu message to kids and their parents. After all, who wouldn’t listen to Sesame Street star Elmo? HHS Secretary Sebelius, with the help of this popular TV character, appeared on a webcast with this message: Be Healthy America.

Faith & Communities Fight Flu

Finally, everybody in the community have the duty to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of flu.HHS gives us 5 simple tips to do this:

Healthcare updates, Nov 5: What to do with the flu

November 5, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The flu, the flu. What are we to do? Here are the latest updates on the flu.

Podcast: Influenza Round Table: Don’t Get, Don’t Spread
Check out this CDC podcast where Dr. Joe Bresee describes how to keep from getting the seasonal flu and spreading it to others. Some of Dr. Bresee’s tips:

First, if you’re sick, stay home from work or school to avoid being around as many people as possible. Second, we recommend that you cover your mouth to avoid spreading the germs.”

Vaccine Safety Monitoring Ensures Continued Safety,
The flu season is here and so is the new flu vaccine. But scepticism about the flu shots remains despite (or because of?) the last year’s swine flu pandemic. The FDA and the CDC are trying to alleviated people’s concerns about the shots through vaccine safety monitoring programs. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) help in prompt reporting of adverse events related to the vaccines. Results from VAES and VSD from data of the 2009-10 influenza season showed:

More than 90% of the reports after 2009 H1N1 flu vaccination were non-serious (e.g. events that did not involve health consequences or hospitalization, such as a low-grade fever or muscle aches) and the serious reports were similar to reporting patterns for influenza vaccinations during previous influenza seasons.”

Shot shy?
Okay, so don’t like getting shots? You are not alone and it is not something to be embarrassed about. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC suggests the following alternative:

If you’re worried about shots, there’s a spray that’s fine for people as long as you’re healthy, between the ages of 2 and 49.”

The spray, unfortunately, can’t be used in pregnant women.

Webcast: Pregnant Women and the Upcoming Flu Season
Pregnant during the flu season? The webcast Know What to Do About the Flu explains “the importance of vaccination for pregnant women, including a discussion on vaccine safety and benefits to newborn children.”

A bad case of the flu
Coughs, aches, chills, fatigue, fever, and even vomiting and diarrhea are some of the common symptoms of influenza. Most of us recover from the flu. But bad cases of flu have been reported. According to Dr. Jose Bresee of the CDC:

“People with the following symptoms should call for emergency medical help immediately: signs of breathing or heart problems like chest pain, shortness of breath, bluish or purplish lips; signs of dehydration, like yellowish or leathery skin, decreased urination, or confusion. Sometimes children will have no tears when they cry.”

Flu updates, October 15

October 15, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The swine flu pandemic is officially over but the seasonal flu is just starting as we face the coming of the winter months. We will be bringing you regular updates about seasonal influenza.

Here are some seasonal flu updates for you this week.

Kmart Pharmacy kicks off flu prevention program
If you are into seasonal flu vaccine, then you might want to check Kmart Pharmacy’s more than 900 walk-in flu clinics. The clinics will be open through Nov. 15 to sell seasonal flu shots (free Medicare Part B members) that will be administered by a trained practitioner. According to a Kmart statement:

Following a 2009 flu season that saw significant outbreaks, including the H1N1 virus, Kmart Pharmacy is encouraging customers to get their vaccinations early in the season, especially since there is an incubation period before becoming fully effective. The Kmart Pharmacy walk-in flu clinics are family friendly, have knowledgeable on-site pharmacists that can answer flu- and health-related questions, and carry a range of supplies to help customers stay healthy during the winter season.”

Take note that this is not an endorsement!

Q and A: Vaccine Selection for the 2010-2011 Influenza Season

So what’s in that flu shot anyway? Well, the cocktail varies from year to year just as the flu virus strains change from flu season to flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how flu vaccines selection is done. “The seasonal flu vaccine is a trivalent vaccine (a three component vaccine) with each component selected to protect against one of the three main groups of influenza viruses circulating in humans.” The components are selected based on the circulating strains of the previous flu season in both northern and southern hemisphere. The selected viral strains are weakened or killed and incorporated into the new vaccine. Here are the 3 strains included in the Northern Hemisphere’s 2010–2011 seasonal influenza vaccine:

an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus;

an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus;

and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus

Maternal influenza vaccination may be associated with flu protection in infants
A flu shot for mommy during pregnancy seems to extend protection to the unborn baby that tracks through even 6 months after delivery, according to a recent study. This is good news since babies under 6 months are not eligible for the flu shot. The authors wrote:

Influenza virus infection in infants is generally more frequent among those aged 6 to 12 months than in the first six months of life, potentially owing to the protection conferred by maternal influenza antibodies acquired transplacentally or through breastfeeding. However, during severe influenza seasons, morbidity and mortality rates among infants younger than 6 months have been reported to exceed those of older infants.”

Does mom’s flu increases baby’s schizophrenia risk?

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under SCHIZOPHRENIA

Flu and pregnancy had a hot topic since the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza last year. Health authorities lament the fact that the public has been very sceptical of the H1N1 flu vaccine and only very few of the high-risk individuals which included young children and pregnant women were vaccinated.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill investigated the effect of flu infection to the unborn child. They tested the effect of mild flu in pregnant rhesus monkeys and monitored the babies’ development.

12 rhesus macaques were infected with a mild influenza A virus in the early part of its 3rd trimester, 1 month before the due date. 7 pregnant monkeys who were not infected served as controls. The babies of flu-infected mothers were born healthy and did not differ in terms of weight, gestation length and neuromotor, behavioral and endocrine responses compared on babies of non-infected mothers.

After 1 year, the babies were monitored using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans and their behaviour observed. Their results showed that babies exposed to flu infection in utero had smaller brains compared to non-exposed babies. The scans also detected reductions in the amount of gray matter in the cingulate and parietal lobe and of white matter in the parietal lobe. The structural changes observed were very similar to changes observed in humans with schizophrenia.

According to researcher Dr. John Gilmore, professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine

“The brain changes that we found in the monkey babies are similar to what we typically see in MRI scans of humans with schizophrenia. This suggests that human babies whose mothers had the flu while pregnant may have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia later in life than babies whose mothers did not have the flu. Normally that risk affects about 1 of every 100 births. Studies in humans suggest that for flu-exposed babies, the risk is 2 or 3 per 100 births.”

The study results confirm previous reports from similar studies using rodents. In those studies, flu infection during pregnancy increased the risk for schizophrenia in the rodent offsprings.

According to lead author Sarah J. Short

“This was a relatively mild flu infection, but it had a significant effect on the brains of the babies. While these results aren’t directly applicable to humans, I do think they reinforce the idea, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that pregnant women should get flu shots, before they get sick.”

Pregnancy depression and flu: a bad combination

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

Raging hormones. Morning sickness. Add to that depression. Then top it up with the flu. What you get is a nasty cocktail of symptoms and complications.

Researcher s at the Ohio State University report that pregnant women who are suffering from more than your usual dose of baby blues –e.g. severe pregnancy depression – are more likely to suffer from severe flu symptoms than “less depressed” pregnant women.

The immune system of pregnant women is naturally weakened to accommodate the growing fetus. However, the study findings suggest that the immune system of depressed pregnant women is even more problematic, e.g. is not functioning typically, a dysfunction can be dangerous when it encounters infections such as the flu bug.

There is a well-established mind-body connection in people under chronic stress and depression. Pregnancy can be a stressful period, yet the mind-body connection during gestation is not well studied event.

According to Lisa Christian, an assistant professor of psychiatry:

“Our basic starting question was, do those same relationships between depression and immune function hold during pregnancy? And these studies suggest that they do. We see immune dysregulation during pregnancy due to stress and depression.”

Does having the flu shot help?

The researchers looked at 22 pregnant women who received the seasonal flu shot. The study participants were tested for inflammatory biomarkers in the blood before and after vaccination and completed questionnaires that asses depressive symptoms. In particular, post-vaccination blood samples were tested for macrophage migration inhibitory factor or MIF, which is a protein that promotes inflammation. The results of the study show

  • Depressive symptoms and perceived were significantly more evident in women who were unhappy about their pregnancies, and in those less social support and more frequent hostile social interactions.
  • Those women with stronger depressive symptoms had higher MIF levels in the blood after vaccination indicating a stronger biological reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine compared to women who were not depressed.
  • The inflammatory responses to the flu shot do no harm, are mild, and typically go away within a few days but is indicative of the immune response when the actual infection strikes.

Research studies have shown that pregnancy suppresses certain functions of the immune system to prevent rejection of the fetus and to protect the fetus from inflammation that accompanies fevers and other illnesses. Excess inflammation during pregnancy, however, has been associated to increased risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.

The study findings support the recommendations that pregnant women should get vaccinated against the flu. However, flu shots be it the seasonal or the H1N1 flu, are viewed with skepticism. Only about 12 to 13% of pregnant women in the US opt for flu vaccination.

News from the flu front, December 29

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Researchers find human protein that prevents H1N1 influenza infection
A light at the end of the flu tunnel? Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute may just have found a way to prevent H1N1 flu infection. They identified a naturally occurring human protein that blocks the replication of the H1N1 flu virus. But it doesn’t even stop there. The same protein also blocks other disease-causing viruses, including the deadly West Nile virus and the dengue fever virus. The protein is a member of the Inducible Transmembrane (IFITM) protein family.

The unexpected discovery could lead to the development of more effective antiviral drugs, including prophylactic drugs that could be used to slow influenza transmission.

1 dose of H1N1 vaccine may provide sufficient protection for infants and children
Here’s another piece of good news. One dose of the vaccine may actually be enough for protecting infants and very young children from the H1N1 flu, according to a recent study by Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne. The current guidelines of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices require two doses of the vaccine for children under 9 years old.

The authors state:

“Our findings suggest that a single dose 15-microgram dose vaccine regimen may be effective and well tolerated in children, and may have positive implications for disease protection and reduced transmission of pandemic H1N1 in the wider population.”

2/3 of Australians unlikely to get vaccinated against swine flu
However, it’s not all good news from down under. Skepticism about the H1N1 flu vaccine has spread to the southern hemisphere. According to Research Australia, a survey revealed that about 65% of the population are unlikely to get vaccinated against the swine flu in the coming year. This unwillingness to get vaccinated among Australians is causing concerns among health officials who are bracing for a major outbreak in the coming winter months. Even among people with high risk profile, the rate of vaccination is rather low.

The poll found that, in terms of people at higher risk, only 33 per cent with asthma or lung disease, 45 per cent with diabetes, 28 per cent with reduced immunity, and 40 per cent with heart disease had been vaccinated.

FDA Approves High Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for People Ages 65 and Older
It’s not only the H1N1 flu that’s causing frenzy in the pharma industry. The US FDA approved last week the high dose seasonal flu vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose. The shot is an inactivated influenza virus vaccine indicated for people ages 65 years and older to prevent disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and B.

It’s been a while since I brought you some news updates from the flu front. Here’s one just before the end of the year.

Voluntary Non-Safety-Related Recall of Specific Lots of Nasal Spray Vaccine for 2009 H1N1 Influenza
There has been a voluntary recall of specific lots of the nasal spray vaccine for H1N1. However, the CDC emphasizes that teh recall has nothing to do with unwanted side effect but is part of a routine quality assurance checks, especially for stability and shelf-life.

Flu updates, December 5

December 4, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

swine flu4It’s been a while since I brought you some flu updates… Here are your updates for this weekend.

CDC: Swine flu less widespread, down to 32 states
Finally, some good news about the flu swine from the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). It seems to be on the wane in the US. Infection was widespread in 48 states in October and in 43 states in early November. As of November 21, it was down to 32 states. Unfortunately, the number of deaths especially among children does not seem to be waning. There were 27 new lab-confirmed H1N1 deaths in the under 18 year olds on that week, the highest weekly toll so far. There are reports that the H1N1 flu activity in Canada is also easing. In most parts of Europe, the epidemic is just reaching its peak. Health officials at the CDC, however warns that it may not be over yet. They expect to see another peak right after the Christmas holidays when children go back to school.

H1N1 activity waxes, wanes: WHO
In fact, flu expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) Keiji Fukuda believes we may not be out of the wood yet. Reports show that the flu is peaking, even waning in some areas. “I think it’s a little bit early to begin those discussions now because we are still in a period where some countries are still increasing in terms of infections, even though in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, it looks like infections and cases are going down.”

FDA Approves Additional Vaccine for 2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus
The US FDA approved another vaccine against the H1N1 flu in November. This was the 5th vaccine to be approved in the US and is manufactured by ID Biomedical Corp. of Quebec, Canada, owned by GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK).

WHO approves Glaxo’s swine flu shot
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also certified one of GSK’s flu vaccine made in Canada for distribution in 95low-income countries. This vaccine contains an adjuvant which will boost the immune system.
A batch of the same vaccine was withdrawn last month due to the high incidence of allergic reactions.

Flu.gov on Twitter
To spread the flu news faster that the flu bug is spreading, health authorities in the US is using social media particularly twitter.  The FluGov twitter bio says “One-stop access to U.S. Government H1N1, avian and pandemic flu information.”  Check out the latest webcast in a briefing by CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

WHO: Clinical Management of Human Infection with Pandemic (H1N1) 2009: Revised Guidance
WHO also issued a revision of the H1N1 flu guidelines which included

Photo credit:stock.xchng

Children with asthma more susceptible to H1N1 flu

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

Children have been shown to be highly vulnerable when it comes to catching the H1N1 flu. Furthermore, children with asthma seem to be more likely to develop serious symptoms and complications. This is according to a study conducted by researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The researchers looked at the charts of 58 pediatric H1N1 patients admitted to the said hospital between May and July of this year and compared them with 200 other pediatric patients who were admitted due to the seasonal flu from 2004 and 2008. The study showed that

  • Children admitted for H1N1 flu tended to be older (5 years or older) than those admitted for seasonal flu.
  • 84% of H1N1 pediatric patients had fever and cough; 37% had gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea and vomiting
  • 22% of children who had the H1N1 flu had asthma; only 6% of those who had the seasonal had asthma.
  • Almost 50% of pediatric patients admitted to the ICU due to H1N1 flu had asthma.
  • In larger samples, 21 to 30% of hospitalizes H1N1 cases are linked to asthma.

According to researcher Dr. Upton Allen

“The most striking finding in our study was the high prevalence of asthma among children admitted with pandemic H1N1 influenza compared with those admitted in previous influenza seasons. Asthma has been identified as a significant risk factor for admission with pandemic H1N1 influenza, present in 21%-30% in the larger samples.”

This finding indicates that asthma is a major risk factor for severe H1N1 symptoms especially in children, even among those with mild asthma. The authors recommend that children with asthma be considered as high risk individuals and should be vaccinated for H1N1 and considered fro antiviral therapy.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 138 deaths among children have been attributed to the H1N1 influenza virus infections in US from August 30 to November 14, 2009. This number could be broken down into the following age groups:

Epidemiology experts believe that the best way to control the H1N1 flu is to start vaccinating children. According to Dr. David Kimberlin of the University of Alabama at Birmingham

“Children are the highest-risk group for spreading the virus among themselves, and as a consequence, spreading it around their community… Like a bull’s-eye, the middle of the target is what you vaccinate so you don’t see infections in the concentric rings around the center. The center of the protection bull’s-eye should be children.”

Flu updates, November 10

November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

swine flu4Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Ukraine
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported more than 250,000 cases with flu-like symptoms this week. 235 patients have been admitted to intensive case and 70 deaths have been reported.

H1N1 infects pet cat, ferrets
Pets may also get the H1N1 flu. Unlike humans, they are not eligible for the vaccine as there isn’t enough to go around. A 13-year old cat was for H1N1 flu at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Ferrets were also reported to have caught the flu from their human families. Experts, however, believe that these cases are rare.

Venezuela: Indians Die From Swine Flu
At least five Yanonami Indians in the Amazon died from the H1N1 flu, the New York Times report. The flu has spread to the South American rain forests and is affecting the indigenous community.

H1N1 deaths highest in those 50 and older
The young are most like to get it but the old are most likely to die from it, at least in California. The analysis of California cases  revealed the following:

  • 1,088 hospitalized cases from April 23 to August 11, 2009.
  • 32% were younger than 18.
  • Median age was 27 years
  • 7% of children who died were under 18.
  • Highest rate of fatalities is 11%, among the 50 plus age group.

Most fatal cases had underlying medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and gastrointestinal disease. The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

FDA Warns of Unapproved and Illegal H1N1 Drug Products Purchased Over the Internet
Drugs and other remedies purported to be effective against the H1N1 flu are being sold over the Internet and the US FDA has issued a warning to consumers. The FDA itself is investigating the online vendor by placing orders. The products were then analysed by the FDA labs and most proved to be bogus or impure.
According to FDA Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

“Products that are offered for sale online with claims to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus must be carefully evaluated. Medicines purchased from Web sites operating outside the law put consumers at increased risk due to a higher potential that the products will be counterfeit, impure, contaminated, or have too little or too much of the active ingredient.”

Health Canada issued a similar warning this week.

Officials Defend Distribution of Flu Vaccine to Companies
Because of the shortage of H1N1 vaccines, US health officials have to prioritize who gets the shots. Which why people are wondering why Wall Street banks are getting some of those doses in New York City, according to this New York Times report. According to a NYC health department spokesperson, the priority is to get the vaccines to “pediatricians, obstetricians, gynecologists, community health centers and public and private hospitals.” However, private companies may also be able to get the vaccine as long as the shots are given to high risk employees, e.g. pregnant women and those with serious chronic conditions. The vaccine allocation in NYC is as follows:

  • 39% for school vaccination programs
  • 21% for paediatricians
  • 19% for hospitals
  • 6% for health services employees

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Do’s and Don’t’s during the flu season

October 12, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Thermometer‘Tis the season to be sniffling…be confused. Health experts can’t agree which one is the more dangerous, the seasonal flu or the H1N1 (aka swine) flu. Doctors can’t agree whether the vaccines will help or not. One thing is for sure: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the best preventive measure is through good hygiene. Studies have shown that proper hygiene has been very effective in preventing the spreads of pandemics.

Those with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and yes – cancer are especially susceptible to infections.

I’ve been looking for a comprehensive and comprehensible list of preventive measures which we can use against the flu (regardless of which one) and I found this one which I‘d like to share with you.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought it best to give you here a part of the list from Online Nursing Programs.Net, though I have inserted some of my inputs here and there in parenthesis and red itals.

DO’s

Wash your hands: One of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands. (With soap or antiseptic!)

Avoid touching your face: You pick up lots of germs just by being in public or even your own house, so avoid putting your dirty hands and fingers on your face.

Carry antibacterial gel or wipes: Clean your hands before eating out with on-the-go antibacterial gel or hand wipes. (I have a small bottle of gel in my handbag and another one in my car).

Get vaccinated: People with certain health conditions, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone around lots of people (teachers, health care providers, flight attendants) should get vaccinated for the flu. (Make an informed decision about vaccination!)

Avoid crowds: At the peak of cold and flu season, avoid large crowds and packed airplanes and airports. (Rethink your Thanksgiving and Christmas travelling plans.)

Rest when you think you’re getting sick: Give your body a chance to rest by getting enough sleep and eating right. Avoid late nights and partying.

Clean your desk: Clean your office space, including keyboard, mouse and any shared supplies to rid the area of germs. (There are special cleaning liquids for your keyboard, mouse and screen. Check at you PC dealer).

Disinfect your house: Spray doorknobs and other public-use areas if you have roommates or house guests. (And kids who come and go. They’d easily pick up bugs at school).

Stay warm and dry: Your body may be more vulnerable to germs and infections if you’re suddenly soaked in a cold rainstorm and experience a drastic change in temperature.

Evaluate your risk: People with chronic illnesses like AIDS or respiratory problems are more likely to get sick, so they’ll need to be extra prepared. (Children, pregnant women, also those with weakened immune system due to underlying medical conditions are susceptible to severe flu symptoms).

Visit a sauna: One German study found that people who went to saunas twice a week got half as many colds as those who never went to one. (We can’t all have our private saunas so make sure when using a public sauna that it’s well-maintained and hygienic.)

Eat a healthy diet. Healthy foods will help keep your immune system strong while others are coughing and sneezing all around you.

Stay positive: Some researchers believe that the placebo effect may influence a person’s health, so try to convince yourself that you’re perfectly healthy.

Get fresh air: Well-ventilated rooms with open windows clear and purify the air.

Meditate: Your body’s natural cold and flu fighters increase when you relax, so focus on something pleasant and peaceful for 30 minutes per day.

Go about your daily routine: Don’t become a hypochondriac or let the flu hype get out of control. Be sensible about your health.

Be happy: A happy state of mind can lead to a healthier body, too.

DON’T’s

Don’t get too stressed out: Stress can weaken your immune system and distract you from staying healthy.

Don’t carry a cloth bag: During cold and flu season, carry a leather or vinyl bag that’s easier to wipe down after trips to the store. (Or you can put the cloth bag in the laundry immediately after use.)

Don’t huddle indoors: Researchers suggest we see more colds in winter simply because we tend to huddle together indoors too much, making it easier to swap germs. Get out for fresh air and alone time.

Don’t share cosmetics: Mascara, eye shadow brushes, lip glosses and other personal items carry lots of germs and should not be shared.

Don’t use a hanky: Prevent the spread of germs by throwing away tissues immediately after you use them. (Dispose used tissues properly!)

Don’t smoke: Smoking weakens the respiratory system, which can leave you vulnerable to colds. (Check out Battling Addiction.)

Don’t drink after someone else: Even if you drink out of a different straw or side of the glass, there could be germs inside the drink due to backwash.

Don’t put your bag down in the bathroom: Hang up your bag on a public restroom hook.

Don’t share food: Dipping your fork or breaking off a piece of someone else’s food plate leaves you vulnerable to their germs.

Don’t keep the temperature too warm: Lower your thermostat just a tiny bit to keep virus germs from spreading.

Don’t double dip: Stay away from open dips at parties and restaurants.

Don’t compromise your sleep schedule: Adults need 7 to 8 hours per night while teens need approximately 9 hours per night. (Good sleep hygiene is important!)

Don’t drink too much: Limit your alcohol intake to give your body a rest and sleep better.

 Photo credit: stock.xchng

What’s new with the flu, October 6

October 6, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

swine_fluThis morning, I am bringing you the latest news from the flu front.

Flu fears prompt review of hockey handshake
Can a handshake give you the flu? Apparently, sports officials in Canada are reviewing whether the traditional handshake after a hockey match should be put aside for the time being as part of the many measures to prevent of flu, seasonal or H1N1. They are not alone in putting hygiene over sportsmanship. Some of the local football (soccer to North Americans) clubs in Europe have already received instructions to leave out end-of-match handshakes. At least the hockey players have gloves on. The football players, except for the goalkeeper haven’t.

Aspirin misuse may have made 1918 flu pandemic worse
Researchers are looking more and more into the historical records of the 1918 pandemic flu in order to find ways to beat the current flus. And one of their findings is that many people who had the 1918 flu did not die of the virus itself but of aspirin toxicity. At that time, aspirin was the wonder drug that can control fever and headaches, common symptoms of the flu. Unfortunately, the doing levels then were not properly established so that many patients suffered side effects of aspiring overdose which included build up of fluid in the lungs, leading high incidence of pneumonia, secondary bacterial infection and death. According to Dr. Karen Starko, one of the study authors:

“Understanding these natural forces is important when considering choices in the future. Interventions cut both ways. Medicines can save and improve our lives. Yet we must be ever mindful of the importance of dose, of balancing benefits and risks, and of the limitations of our studies.”

Sugary Mix Is Just What the Flu Doctor Ordered
Tamiflu is in short supply and it is unlikely that the stockpiles will be enough for everybody. The manufacturer of Tamiflu is stepping up the manufacturing process and does not have time to produce the drug in children’s version, e.g. in syrup form with artificial flavouring. However, Tamiflu prescribing recommendations include instructions to pharmacists of mixing the pills with cherry syrup and purified water for children.

Flu vaccine may protect against MI
Vaccination against the flu may have an added benefit – it may also protect people from having a heart attack, according to British researchers. Acute respiratory infections that come with the flu can trigger heart attacks in people with underlying heart conditions.  According to head author Dr. Charlotte Warren-Gash:

“Our key message for health professionals seeing patients with heart disease is to encourage influenza vaccination in this group, not only to protect them from influenza infection itself but also from complications such as heart attacks.”

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Diabetes and OTC Medications

March 5, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

I picked up some sort of bug from the children and it made me think of a few months back when my mother was very sick. With five children in the home, three of which attend three different schools, we come in contact with many, many different germs. When a bug infiltrates, it is not long before all of us are in varying stages of illness. My mom was the last to be ‘hit’ with what I refer to as the ‘Fletcher Plague of 2007’.

She had the worst cough and we ran out of her regular cough medication. My mother in law picked up some Dayquil and my mother tried it out. We knew her sugar may spike, so we took precautions with her meals and had insulin at the ready. Luckily, she had no ill effects from the medication during the day and later on, we tried a dose of Nyquil early in the evening to avoid any late night episodes.

After her dose, it was several hours before she went to sleep, but at 3 A.M., the alarm to our upstairs floor began screeching. Someone had popped the mechanism to wake us. My husband rushed down to find my father in law at our door, sweaty, disoriented, and about to pass out. It seems he had taken the same medication in a larger dose than my mother and had began wandering! He is a diabetic as well, but does not pay attention to over the counter medication warnings. I spent the next few hours watching him and checking his sugar levels. We had him drink several cups of pure water, which did help to lower the glucose levels.

Since then, he has been much more careful in choosing over the counter cold/flu/sinus medications. We have all taken a second look at what is in our medicine cabinet, taking careful stock of what the diabetics in our household can use safely. Sugar free medications or medications that are labeled ‘Diabetic’ are generally safe for use in diabetics or those with sensitivity to sugar.

You still need to speak with your doctor because over the counter medications mask the symptoms of an ailment. You may assume you are suffering from a common cold, but truly have a sinus infection, the flu, or even pneumonia. Any infection in someone with diabetes is potentially very serious. Ask your doctor about including Vitamin C and Zinc in your morning supplements. Both of these supplements have a track record of assisting the body while it fights off illness.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.