Doctor Housecalls Blog

Healthcare related news and updates



This article was updated on January 15th, 2020.

With flu season upon us, it is important that you learn everything there is to know about this illness. While the flu is fairly common, every year it claims numerous lives throughout the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 2.5 million people will be affected this year alone. They also predict that over 20,000 people will be hospitalized with upwards of 1,000 flu-related deaths.

So far flu season is off to an early start, a total of six children in Texas have died from the flu this year.  Maricopa County reported the first death of an infant as well. Children along with the elderly are two of the most vulnerable groups of people due to their relatively weak immune systems.

We have been seeing 3 viral syndromes lately:

1) Flu-Like: consisting of low-grade fever, malaise, weakness, headache, runny/stuffy nose with post-nasal drip causing coughing (especially during sleep), and nausea.

2) Influenza (it started as type B, but now is type A H1N3): like #1 but with higher fever, severe muscle aches, and some diarrhea and nausea as well

3) Norovirus: which causes fever (often high), and only extreme vomiting and diarrhea (no URI symptoms), lasting about 3 days, and often requiring i.v. hydration (it’s the “stomach flu” virus that causes huge outbreaks on cruise ships, etc.).

As always, public health officials have been urging people across the country to get inoculated against the flu. This seasonal illness can quickly worsen, causing health complications that can be fatal, even for healthy adults.

Current Flu Activity

This map provided by the CDC shows the overall influenza activity throughout the United States. Alaska, The Virgin Islands, and The District of Columbia are the only ones to report sporadic levels of flu activity.
An infographic showing where the flu is currently in the United States

States with the most widespread influenza activity include Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

Beginning of Flu Season

In the United States, cases of influenza-related illnesses typically start around October, continuing on through early spring. February has pretty much always been the worst month in terms of the sheer number of people getting sick.

Who Should Get a Flu Shot?

It is a good idea for just about anyone who is over the age of six months to get inoculated against the flu. Getting this shot early on in flu season significantly decreases one’s chances of becoming seriously ill. These shots are typically made available as early as September in most places throughout the U.S. However, many folks say: “I don’t get a Flu Shot because it gives me the flu!”. This is impossible! The injectable immunization consists of completely dead viruses that act only as a template for your body to make antibodies to them. However, it takes about 2 weeks to make these antibodies, and if one is exposed to the Influenza Virus during (or shortly before) the immunization, then one can come down with the flu before you have enough time to mount a resistance. Also, some people do not make enough antibodies to ward off a subsequent infection. Getting a Flu Shot in Sept. – Oct. should protect for the entire flu season, which hit earlier than normal this year and is still rampant in the West. However, it is still advisable to get one now if you have not already!
Flu myths vs flu facts infographic

Will The Current Vaccine be Effective?

There are many different factors that ultimately determine the efficacy of a flu vaccine, including the current strains that are going around. It is ultimately up to health officials as to which strains of the fly to cover in each year’s vaccine. The fact that these strains are capable of changing rapidly can make determining this quite difficult.

Scott Epperson, a spokesperson for the CDC, stated that he believes the current vaccine will be highly effective. It was formulated to prevent illness due to the H1N1 and H3N2 strains, which have been widespread in numerous states.

All indications suggest that this new vaccine is also going to be effective at combating the B strains that were identified earlier this year. The CDC has acknowledged that even effective vaccines can only work so well.

Effectiveness of the flu shot from 2008 to 2016

Where are Flu Shots Available?

There are many different drugstores, schools, public health departments, and other places across the country that offers flu shots.

A vast majority of medical insurance policies cover these shots for children and adults. Those who have Medicare Part B will be able to get one of these shots without having to pay anything.

If you are looking for a flu shot near me check the map below


Is the Nasal Spray Vaccine Effective?

Those who are not a fan of needles will find that the nasal spray vaccine is a viable alternative to consider.

The young child Nose Spray Immunization is a weakened virus, and although the CDC says it is too weak to cause the flu in healthy patients, this is a possibility in immunocompromised ones (e.g. those with leukemias/other cancers, HIV, insulin-dependent diabetes, etc.).

Although, as our readers have previously been explained, antibiotics won’t kill a virus (it’s like trying to use weedkiller to kill a gopher!)

This vaccine offers protection for children and adults. There have been some changes made to this spray in the last year that have supposedly made it more effective than ever.

Many parents have started opting for the nasal spray option when it comes to protecting their children from the flu. It is not painful at all and only takes a matter of seconds to administer. This makes it an ideal choice for kids who don’t do well with needles.

This nasal spray did not protect against the H1N1 virus, but it offers protection from other viruses that were going around at the time.

How is the Flu Vaccine Created?

There are a few factors that are considered when creating a vaccine for each new flu season. Doctors and scientists thoroughly research cases of viral infections that are occurring within the U.S. They use this information to determine which strains should be included in the upcoming vaccine.

While this ultimately comes down to a guessing game, the estimates are based on actual data and years of experience among medical professionals. This data is compiled to come up with a final decision for the strains that the vaccine should protect against.

This year’s vaccine has been formulated to protect against H1N1 and H3N2 viruses, as well as two different B strains. Experts have been saying that this new flu shot is more comprehensive than before, which could mean more lives saved across the country.

There is never any guarantee that the flu vaccine will be completely effective for any person who gets it. It does, however, drastically reduce the chances of getting sick by up to sixty percent for most people.

Will We Have a Universal Flu Vaccine in the Near Future?

A recent endowment of $8 million by the National Institutes of Health was given to the University of Georgia. The sole purpose of this large grant was to create a vaccine that can protect against numerous strains of the flu virus in one dose.

The University of Georgia has collaborated with numerous other schools to come up with a universal flu vaccine. While officials are still saying that such a vaccine is still a little way off, it might be available to the public sooner than most of us think.

Human testing of the vaccine could begin as early as 2020, which is exciting news in the health and medical communities. There are other institutions that have been working towards a universal flu vaccine with varying degrees of success.

Who is Most at Risk?

There are certain groups of people who are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu than others. Those who work around children on a regular basis are among these groups. It is also common among doctors and other people in the healthcare community who have direct contact with patients.

Many of the cases of flu-related death in the U.S. each year consist of children who are under the age of two. Elderly people who are over the age of 65 also make up a significant number of these cases each year. Any person with a weak immune system is particularly vulnerable.

Women who are either pregnant or recently gave birth to a child in the past couple of weeks can develop severe symptoms as well.

Any person who has asthma, diabetes or heart disease is also at a higher risk level for serious illness or death from the flu. People who are already in poor health are always the ones who are most likely to experience health complications when getting sick.

Infographic showing the most at risk ages for getting the flu

Is There a “Best” Flu Vaccine?

The fact is that there isn’t any single vaccine that is universally better than all of the others. The best thing that anyone can do is to ask their doctor which vaccine to get. Certain vaccines can be more effective than others for people of certain ages. A majority of the vaccines that are given out this year are going to be quadrivalent, which means they protect against four unique flu strains.

Types of Flu Shots

There are a number of different flu shots that you can get in 2019 through 2020, including:

  • High dose vaccine: These shots are best for older people who are at least 65 years of age.
  • Standard dose vaccine: These vaccines are administered using a needle.
  • Adjuvant vaccine: Vaccines with adjuvant in them are particularly effective for older people and children.
  • Cell culture vaccine: A small percentage of flu vaccines this year will be made using cell cultures as opposed to eggs. These shots are best for those who have allergies.
  • Nasal spray: There is also the nasal spray flu vaccine, which is not recommended for women who are pregnant or those who are in poor overall health.

Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Receive a Flu Shot?

Any person who has a known allergy to any of the ingredients that are used in a certain vaccine should not receive it. Those who contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome six weeks leading up to their last vaccination should not get the shot.

When Does the Flu Vaccination Take Effect?

These shots become effective at protecting against various strains of the flu within 10 to 14 days after they are administered.

Pregnant Women and the Flu Vaccine

Most types of flu vaccines are perfectly safe for pregnant women, with the exception of the nasal spray option. The Centers for Disease Control makes a point of telling pregnant women to get vaccinated. Taking this measure can serve to protect themselves and their unborn child at the same time.

The risk of health complications from getting the flu is far more worrisome than the potential reactions to the shot itself. One study conducted in 2018 showed that pregnant women who received a flu vaccine were far less likely to end up in the hospital from influenza. It made a difference of about 40%, which is impressive, to say the least.

Pregnant women are statistically more likely to develop health complications when getting the flu than women who aren’t pregnant. This is why anyone woman who is pregnant should get vaccinated early on in the year.

Which Symptoms are Associated with the Flu?

It is important that you are aware of the various symptoms that are associated with the flu. While it does not present the exact same way in everyone, there are common signs to watch out for.

Some of the symptoms of the flu include:

  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Clogged sinuses
  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills

The symptoms of the flu tend to be more dramatic in children. It is a misconception that the flu is always accompanied by a fever, which may not be the case for some people. Most people who get the flu have a general “sick feeling” or malaise, as well as headache and stuffy nose.

infographic that shows the difference between the cold and the flu

What Should I do if I Exhibit Flu Symptoms?

The best thing that you can do if you think you have the flu is to relax at home for a minimum of one day. Once you are no longer running a fever, you won’t have to worry about giving the flu to anyone else.

There are more severe symptoms that you’ll want to be aware of as well, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Changes in skin color
  • General disorientation
  • Vomiting that does not stop
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Severe muscle aches and pains
  • Mental confusion

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should get yourself to an urgent care clinic right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances will be of coming through your illness without any major issues or complications. These are not the kinds of symptoms that you should simply ignore, as they are incredibly serious. Pregnant women in particular need to be aware of these symptoms due to their increased overall risk.

Other Ways to Keep from Getting Sick

There are other ways of avoiding the flu in addition to getting the shot that you should consider.

We have been having success treating the symptoms of  Flu Type#1 and  Flu Type#2 with:

Tylenol for fever, headache and muscle aches (Ibuprofen and Naprosyn–ie. Advil and Aleve–can further upset a tender stomach)

Pseudoephedrine (the “Sudafed” you have to show your driver’s license for) and prescription Fluticasone Nasal Spray for runny/stuffy nose/post-nasal drip

Prescription Hydrocodone Cough Syrup ( e.g. Hydromet or Tussionex – all Walgreen’s are currently out of Hydromet in the Valley!) and Pro-Air HFA (i.e. Albuterol Metered Dose Inhalers) for cough and chest congestion

Prescription Ondansetron for nausea/vomiting (along with Phenergan or Compazine Suppositories if uncontrollable)

OTC (i.e. “Over The Counter”) loperamide (e.g.Imodium AD) along with an OTC Probiotic powder or capsule of at least 9 billion cfus (i.e.”colony forming units”) 3x/day for diarrhea.

For those who truly appear to have Influenza (the nasal swab test is only about 50% accurate, and thus worthless in our opinion), and did not get a Flu Shot, we are adding prescription Oseltamivir (e.g. Tamiflu) that is very effective at ameliorating the symptoms of Influenza Type A & B if taken within 48hrs of onset (their literature says it’s effective up to 96hrs, but in our experience, it’s not!).

Remember to stay home and away from others until you are O.K. if you become ill – one is infectious to others from 1-2 days before you come down with symptoms until at least you’re completely normal (some studies say that you can transmit the virus up the 3-4 days after you’re completely normal!!). Cough into your elbow(not hands!) and wear a disposable surgical mask if you must go out, to prevent transmission. Wash hands with soap (it’s not necessary to use “antibacterial soap”) and warm water, front and back, vigorously for at least 30 seconds, frequently (and especially after being in public places). Bedrest and lots of clear liquids are very beneficial, and I personally like CoQ-10 at least 125mg 1-2x/day, a daily high potency B-Complex Vitamin, and at least 1000mg of Vitamin C daily, as well.

If you start to feel yourself getting sick, you should stay home for a day if possible. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your own health.

While this is not a definitive method of preventing illness, it is better than doing nothing.

Please share this guide with the link below if you think that you can help someone you know to prevent or treat the stomach flu this season.

Feel free to post questions you may have about the flu below and one of our board-certified emergency physicians will do their best to answer.

 


Thanksgiving_2015_internal.jpg

Thanksgiving Safety

Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion celebrated in the comfort of home with family and friends. Unfortunately every year countless Americans end up in the hospital or much worse. In 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking-related fires on Thanksgiving. This makes Thanksgiving the peak day of the year for home cooking fires. Christmas, Superbowl Sunday, and other holidays don’t even compare to Thanksgiving when it comes to danger.

The statistics show an alarming increase in injuries, illness, and death around Thanksgiving. Road-related accidents account for a large number of injuries and deaths, but cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Other turkey day activities like excessive unhealthy eating, deep frying turkeys and drinking contribute further to Thanksgiving harm. Unfortunately, we can’t help you with rowdy in-laws, or by watching your diet for you, but we can give you some helpful Thanksgiving-related safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this holiday. Doctor Housecalls of Paradise Valley is available from 10AM-9PM on Thanksgiving if you require urgent medical care due to a Thanksgiving injury like a burn, cut, or turkey overdose.Thanksgiving

Top 10 Safety Tips

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Top 10 Turkey Fryer Tips

10 Tips for Turkey Frying
Turkey Fryer Top Ten Tips

Top 5 Thanksgiving Traveling Tips

Thanksgiving traveling tips
Thanksgiving traveling tips


Live Longer by Owning a Dog

A study that included more than 3.4 million people found that owning a dog is linked to living longer. The study was published in Scientific Reports and was conducted by researchers in Sweden at Uppsala University. The study included both men and women who were between 40 and 80 years old, and who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease. Researchers followed their health records and found whether or not they owned a dog from registries.

The study found that there was a lower risk of death by cardiovascular disease, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes. This was most prominent for people who lived alone. The design of the study was not to show a cause and effect relationship of owning a dog. However, they believe that those who owned dogs tended to be more active and in better health. They also believe that the dog’s effect on the owner’s microbiome could be a factor by providing immune benefits for adults. Other studies have shown that growing up with a dog can reduce allergies and asthma in children.



The Many Benefits of Taking Daily Naps

Research has shown that taking a nap each day can provide a range of benefits for children and adults alike. Greek researchers conducted a study with close to 400 men and women who were middle aged. They found that taking naps can reduce blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart attacks. In addition, those who sleep more often tend to be able to stay more focused, and they feel refreshed when they wake from a nap. Here are some other benefits of daily napping:

  • Research has also found that a nap can help to boost productivity, as it can provide some downtime for the brain.
  • Naps can also help with mood stability for both children and adults.
  • Spanish scientists found that napping can reduce stress.
  • The National Sleep Foundation believes that naps can help to restore alertness, reduce mistakes and accidents, and boost performance.
  • A NASA study found that having a 40-minute nap could improve the performance of astronauts and military pilots by 34% and alertness by 100%.



How to Prevent a Migraine

A migraine is a reoccurring, severe headache that can have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and a sensitivity to light and sound. The throbbing headache often occurs on the side of the head and is more common in women than in men. A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity and what triggers the abnormal brain activity differs vastly from person to person. The best way to prevent migraines from occurring is by identifying the root cause of the change in your brain activity. Study your migraines and find out what triggers them so that you can make the necessary changes to prevent the onset of a migraine. Here are some common lifestyle and medicinal tips that can help prevent a migraine from occurring.

    1. Limit caffeine. Withdrawal from caffeine can trigger a migraine. Prevent yourself from having caffeine withdrawals by limiting your caffeine intake to no more than one cup of coffee a day.
    2. Avoid alcohol. If certain types of alcohol give you a headache after just a few drinks, the alcohol may be triggering a migraine. Avoid these types of alcohol all together.
    3. Avoid triggering foods. Foods like chocolate, cheese, other dairy products, gluten products, red wine, smoked fish, and peanuts are common triggers of migraines. Find out which foods trigger your migraines and eliminate them from your diet.
    4. Do not skip meals. A fluctuation of blood sugar from missing meals is a common cause of migraines. Be sure to keep your glucose levels stable by eating consistently throughout the day.
    5. Get a consistent, healthy amount of sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation can cause migraines. You can help prevent migraines by making sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night and go to sleep around the same time every night.
    6. Take a low-dose estrogen contraceptive (for women). For many women, migraines occur when they have a drop of estrogen right before they start their menstrual cycle. A contraceptive can help balance your estrogen levels and prevent the migraine from occurring.


Beware of Fatal Brain Infection While Swimming in Warm Fresh Water This Summer

With summer coming into full swing and the desire to take a dip in the lake, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a deadly, brain-eating amoeba called Naeglaria fowleri that you need to be aware of while swimming in fresh water. It sounds like something from a horror movie that would never happen in real life. However, while it is rare, the infection that comes from Naeglaria floweri, a single-cell organism living in rivers and lakes, is real and occurs mostly in the summer and in southern states.

According to USA Today, this rare, brain eating amoeba is 97% fatal. The infection is an extreme form of meningitis and has mostly been seen in people swimming in warm fresh water during the summer months. CBS News reported that at least 40 people in the US have died from this infection within the past decade. It is rare, but if infected, the likelihood of survival is minimal. Naeglaria floweri is contracted through the nose, not by drinking contaminated water. The first stage of symptoms are headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Then confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations are typical. Most people infected die within 12 days.

The best way to steer clear of this deadly, brain-eating infection is by either avoiding going under while swimming in warm, fresh water or being sure to hold your nose anytime you go under. Be especially cautious this summer if you live in the South.

 



Benefits and Risks of Testosterone Therapy

 

The latest of many studies aimed at challenging the anti-aging claims of popular supplements found that while testosterone gel does not improve memory or mental function for men, there are mixed results for other potential benefits.

According to the AP (2/21, Tanner), four National Institute of Health-funded testosterone trials published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) reported the effects of testosterone gel on nearly 800 US men 65 or older. The group of 800 men were randomly selected to either rub testosterone gel on their skin daily for one year or to to do the same with a non-testosterone gel.

After a year, the testosterone treated men did not show any improvement in memory or mental function, but they did show an increase in bone density and strength, especially in the spine, compared to those who were treated with the non-testosterone gel. The testosterone treated men reported having more energy and those with anemia showed vast improvement after one year. However, the men treated with testosterone gel also reported to having more plaque build up and narrower arteries. CNN (2/21, Scutti) reported that in a separate study published by JAMA, testosterone therapy was found to be associated with a lower cardiovascular risk in men over 40 for a period of about 3 years.

 



Although diabetes was thought to have been a problem mainly in wealthier countries, the Washington Post reports that the condition now disproportionately affects poor countries. According to the World Health Organization, diabetes cases have doubled worldwide between 1980 and 2014. This means that one in 12 people around the world is diabetic. This increase in diabetes has been attributed to a number of factors such as excess weight gain, obesity and an aging population.

Not only does diabetes significantly shorten lifespans, it is a huge economic burden. Current health spending to treat diabetes and related conditions is over $800 billion every year. The World Health Organization is calling on all governments to draft legislation that will promote healthier lifestyle decisions and limit the consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/04/06/diabetes-was-once-a-problem-of-the-rich-now-it-belongs-to-the-poor/



A recent article in Medscape reports that although “not all resuscitation strategies after a patient has an in-hospital cardiac arrest are equally beneficial when it comes to survival rates,” three practices have proven more effective than others. They are “watching closely for chest-compression interruptions,” providing adequate resuscitation training to staff and frequent reviews of previous cardiac arrest cases. These findings were discovered in a study of 131 acute-care hospitals in the United States. The study was published online in JAMA Cardiology.



According to Tim Lahey of the New York Times “Well” blog, “Ten thousand people ages 13 to 24 are give HIV diagnoses every year in the United States,” but many of these young people are unaware that they carry the virus. Part of this problem is “the low rate of HIV testing among young people, despite the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to that every sexually active person over the age of 13 be tested for HIV. Recent research has also shown that pediatricians and parents are testing five times fewer young people for HIV than what is recommended by national guidelines.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/swipe-right-to-connect-young-people-to-h-i-v-testing/?_r=1&pagewanted=all

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/pdf/hivtesting_adolescents.pdf


Call For Care Now

Speak directly with one of our highly trained Board Certified Emergency Physicians.


REQUEST CARE

10AM-9PM
480-948-0102



AFTER HOURS

480-493-5100



Follow Us

Check us out on our social media.



Copyright Dr. Housecalls of Paradise Valley 2019. All rights reserved.