Healthcare and Technology news
37.9K views | +8 today
Follow
Healthcare and Technology news
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD

FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Viral infectionscan happen at any time, but they're more common during winter when people spend more time in close contact with others indoors.

Although most respiratory viruses clear up within a few days, some can lead to dangerous complications, particularly for smokers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports. Signs of complications include: a cough that interrupts sleep; persistent, high fever; chest pain; or shortness of breath.

Unlike colds, the flu comes on suddenly and lasts more than a few days. Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications, and thousands die from flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, flu season peaks between December and February.

Although colds and the flu share some signs, the flu can lead to more serious symptoms, including fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches and fatigue. Influenza can also cause nausea and vomiting among young children, the FDA said in a news release.

The flu virus is spread through droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. It can also infect surfaces.

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year, the FDA said. Flu viruses are constantly changing so the vaccines must be updated annually. The flu vaccine is available as an injection or a nasal spray.

Although it's best to get the flu vaccine in October, getting it later can still help protect you from the virus, the agency said.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu, federal health officials say. Vaccination is especially important for those at greater risk for flu-related complications, including seniors, pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, people with chronic health conditions, health care providers and caregivers for young children and the elderly.

There is no vaccine for colds. But measures to prevent the spread of viruses include the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water when possible. If necessary, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help.
  • Avoid exposure to infected people.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Ease stress.


If you do get sick, the FDA recommends gargling with salt water to relieve a sore throat and using a cool-mist humidifier to relieve congestion. Call your doctor early on to get treatment advice, and use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating.

Before taking over-the-counter medications, read all drug labels and directions. If you have certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before taking cold or flu medications. Also, don't give over-the-counter medication to children without talking to a pediatrician, the FDA advises.


more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible, C.D.C. Says

Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible, C.D.C. Says | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

This year’s flu season may be deadlier than usual, and this year’s flu vaccine is a relatively poor match to a new virus that is now circulating, federal health officials warned on Thursday.

Flu is unpredictable, but what we’ve seen thus far is concerning,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The C.D.C. has alerted doctors to the problem and has urged them to prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu to vulnerable patients with flu symptoms without waiting for a positive flu test.

The season has only just begun, but 91 percent of the approximately 1,200 samples tested thus far are of the H3N2 subtype of influenza A, Dr. Frieden said. Almost all the rest were influenza B. There were almost no samples of the H1 subtype, a descendant of the 2009 swine flu strain.

Years in which H3 subtypes are more common than H1 subtypes tend to lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, he added.




Moreover, about half of those H3 subtypes — or about 45 percent of all the samples tested so far — are of a new H3 subtype that this season’s flu vaccine does not protect well against.

The new subtype first appeared overseas in March, Dr. Frieden said. Because it was not found in many samples in the United States until September, it is too late to change the vaccine, he said.

The flu vaccine is now usually grown in cell broths rather than in chicken eggs, as it was just a few years ago. That speeds up a process that once took at least six months — but it still takes about four months.

The C.D.C. still recommends that all Americans get flu shots because they are as protective as usual against the older H3 strain, influenza B and the small numbers of H1. And they may provide at least a weak defense against the newer H3.

But because of the increased danger from the H3 strain — and because B influenza strains can also cause serious illness — the C.D.C. recommends that patients with asthma, diabetes or lung or heart problems see a doctor at the first sign of a possible flu, and that doctors quickly prescribe antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza.

Those medications are “not miracle drugs,” Dr. Frieden saidd. The earlier they are given in the illness, the better they work, and all they usually do is shorten the illness by one day — but in a vulnerable patient, that may mean the difference between death and survival.

Five children are known to have died from flu-related illnesses this season, Dr. Frieden said.



more...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Flu Activity Up, Some Schools Closing

Flu Activity Up, Some Schools Closing | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Fluseason is ramping up, according to the CDC, which is reporting widespread flu activity in 14 states, including much of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and several Southern states.

In many states, flu is having a big impact on schoolchildren. In at least two counties in the South, entire school systems are beginning the holiday break early because of an increase in kids sick with flu-like symptoms.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, we will operate on an early release schedule Wednesday, December 17th,” says the notice posted on the Polk County, GA, school district’s web site. The notice says school will remain closed until after the winter break because more and more students are out sick.

“I had a lot of people tell me on Monday that they just were not going to be able to send their kids to school later in the week, because they didn’t want their kids sick all the way through the Christmas vacation,” Polk County Superintendent William Hunter, PhD, told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA.

Out of the district’s 7,800 students, 1,300 of them were out sick Monday, along with 78 of the district’s 500 teachers, he said.  “The decision was pretty easy to make.”

Similarly, the Cherokee County school district in western North Carolina has announced it will shut down all schools by Thursday -- 2 days earlier than planned -- for winter break.

There are various reports from Chicago to Ohio to Georgia of individual schools shutting down as well, and warnings going out to parents about keeping kids home if they show symptoms of illness.

One school district in suburban Atlanta even sent a letter to parents asking them to simply keep sick children home from school, and not to try and cover up their kids' fever symptoms by giving them fever-reducing drugs.


Less-Effective Flu Vaccine

It’s not clear whether the flu is solely to blame for the uptick in illnesses.

“I’m seeing a lot of strep, I’m seeing RSV, conjunctivitis, ear infections, and croup,” says Atlanta-area pediatrician Jennifer Shu. “There are a lot of kids missing a lot of school these days.”


Less-Effective Flu Vaccine continued...

Earlier this month, the CDC said some of this year’s main flu strains had “drifted” from the strains included in the flu vaccine, meaning the vaccine may not be as effective as they'd hoped.

“The flu virus can be unpredictable, and what we’ve seen so far this year is concerning,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.

Frieden says this year’s dominant flu strain is H3N2, a subtype of the flu virus that tends to be more serious. “We know that in seasons where H3 viruses dominate, we tend to have worse flu years, including more hospitalizations and deaths from influenza.”

Because we’re seeing a season with less-effective vaccine, Frieden says it's key to rely on the basics, including:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Stay home from work or school whenever you think you might be sick.

“Fever is the big sign usually for flu, and the sudden onset,” Shu says. “For the flu patients, parents have to drag them out of bed to come to the office, and they’re lying down on the exam table.”

With colds, she says, patients are more talkative, and up and walking around.

But strep often doesn’t come with cold symptoms.

Sore throat, headaches, stomachache, vomiting, sometimes fever, but runny noses and cough are not common with strep,” Shu says.

Bottom line, she says: If your child is sick, have them stay home.

“Keep them home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, or until they’re alert enough to be able to sit through a full day of school without needing to rest or cough a ton,” she says. “They’re not going to be able to concentrate if they’re feeling crummy and coughing all the time anyway.”



more...
No comment yet.