Pneumonia deaths are increasing. Protect yourself and your family.

shutterstock_561346174.jpg1500 adults die from pneumonia in Canada every year. We are in the midst of a rough flu season similar to 2014-2015, where many outbreaks occurred and are likely to continue throughout the winter.   So I would like to remind you of the importance of immunization and flu shots and adult pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include a cough, fever, and trouble breathing.

We are in the midst of a rough flu season and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot.  I also want to talk about immunization and pneumonia.  In Canada, only 16.7% adults with chronic medical conditions are immunized against Streptococcus pneumonia. That’s right –only a small percentage of Canadians are immunized. As a result, there is a dramatic increase in the number of people who get the disease and about 1500 Canadian adults die from it every year.

Who Is At Risk for Pneumonia?

People who are more likely to become ill with pneumonia:

  • Adults 65 years or older
  • Children younger than 5 years old
  • Those  who have underlying medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease)
  • People who smoke cigarettes
  • People with immune suppression diseases, such as HIV, leukemia, and other cancers

However, Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Many of these deaths——could be prevented with vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals).

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease or lower your risk while reducing the risk of the general population coming down with pneumonia.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Older Adults
There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines for adults and guidelines are NOT the same in the US and Canada.

  • US Guidelines: One dose of PCV13 is recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older who have not previously received the vaccine. A dose of PPSV23 should be given at a later date (anytime after 8 weeks from the initial vaccine)
  • Canadian Guidelines: Currently differ for those of us that are 65 and healthy, or those with significant underlying disease. Healthy 65 year old adults are advised to simply take PPSV23. Those with higher risk would follow the guidelines of both vaccines
  • Recently the Canadian government included vaccinations for individuals that required medical attention for asthma in the past 12 months.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Children

  • Children with asthma younger than 18 years should receive both vaccines

What you can do

  • Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated.
  • Make sure children get vaccinated
  • Practice good hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use alcohol based hand sanitizers
  • Don’t some
  • Keep your immune system strong-get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and health a healthy diet

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Let a viral cold run its’ course

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It’s that time of year again—when colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats and many sinus and ear infections start to surface at home, school and our workplaces. The tendency when someone gets sick these days is to presume they will need an antibiotic to get better. The facts are that taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work; it can have dangerous side effects—over time. It could result in the development of resistant bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics that may have worked in the past. Antibiotics that could be vital to recovering from a bacterial infection when you need them the most or are required to take increasingly higher doses of an antibiotic.

Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US call “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant. Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections such as pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and meningitis.

The Differences Between Bacteria and Viruses
Although bacteria and viruses are both too small to be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as giraffes and goldfish.   Website WebMD says it best: Bacterial and viral infections have many things in common. Both types of infections are caused by microbes — bacteria and viruses, respectively — and spread by things such as coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex, contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water, contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks. But the infections are dissimilar in many other important respects, most of them due to the organisms’ structural differences and the way they respond to medications.

When do you ride out a cold or see a doctor?
While viruses and bacteria can cause similar symptoms, the concerns that suggest your infection is more serious, include fever and chills, muscle aches and pains, decreased appetite and overwhelming fatigue. These symptoms are more generalized and may need an expert opinion to decide how best to proceed. Symptoms such as a sore throat and swollen glands can occur with either bacterial or viral infections. If this infection/sore throat/flu like illness or cough is overwhelming and feels like the worst infection you can recall, go get checked by your health care professional! Or if you are not improving in a couple of days, with an easing up of symptoms, this may need further attention.

Taking Antibiotics Safely

So what should you do? To minimize the risk of bacterial resistance, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take antibiotics only for bacterial infections. It’s a good idea to let milder illnesses (especially those thought to be caused by viruses) run their course. This helps prevent antibiotic-resistant germs from developing. But leave it to your doctor to decide if an illness is “mild” or not.
  • Remember: Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infection if taken for the full amount of time prescribed by the doctor
  • And most important, never use antibiotics that have been lying around your home.
  • Help fight antibiotic resistance by taking simple steps to prevent the spread of infections such as frequent hand washing and immunization such as a flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Ask your healthcare professional about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms.
  • Drink more fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion.
  • Soothe your throat with crushed ice, sore throat spray, or lozenges. (Do not give lozenges to young children.)Disclaimer The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

#flu #healthy #health

Disclaimer: The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions

 

Flu Season is here!!!

      Ontario has already documented a few cases of flu and the vaccine is HERE

      Influenza vaccines authorized for use in Canada are safe and associated with minimal side effects and can be administered to anyone over 6months of age. *We know that between 10% and 20% of all Canadians will get the flu this winter.  And for some of us it can be severe, life threatening and perhaps even life ending. About 4000 Canadians die every year of flu and related complications. Generally the very young and the very old are most at risk, but we know pregnant women, children under 5, those with asthma, COPD, heart disease and diabetes are also at significant risk compared to the general population.  And even if you personally are not a high risk individual, chances are you will spread this easily to others in your family or community who are at greater risk.  You need to protect yourself and others!
Does the flu shot eliminate every case of flu? NO.  But if you have been immunized, but still get the flu, chances are it will be much less severe than if you were unprotected.  So you are less likely to need the emergency room and in- hospital treatment.  And that’s what it’s all about.  We can’t avoid every case of influenza, but we can decrease our chance of a serious episode!

       I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot.  I have taken mine, immunized my family, my staff and my coworkers!  Have you had yours?

      Aside from having flu shot,  here are everyday preventative measure to protect you from colds and flu

Top ways to fight the flu*
Wash your hands with soap and water
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way
Sneeze into your arm or sleeve
After or blowing your nose with a tissue, throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
Stay home and avoid crowds if you feel sick

*Health Canada, Flu Watch

It’s not too late to get the flu shot!!!

The flu is hitting Toronto and other parts of the country hard, with an earlier than usual start to the season! And there has been a big spike in the number of cases according to Flu Watch, the national surveillance system that monitors its spread.  Flu Watch reports that as of December 15th, there were 3,557 cases reported in Canada, compared to the same period last year of only 188.

In Ontario, Toronto Public Health reports there have been 238 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.

What this means is that if you haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late, you should get it.  With so many people getting ill this season, it only makes sense to make the effort and help reduce both your chance of illness, as well as reducing the chance of spreading the disease

In Ontario, flu shots are available at pharmacies as well as your family physician’s office. And in Ontario, the Ontario Health Plan covers the shot for all ages.

The Flu is not the same as a cold although some of the symptoms may be the similar.With the flu, you usually develop a fever of 38 C (100F) or higher.  While you feel feverish, and you can also get the chills, body aches and you may experience headaches. Generally you are tired and may have a cough and a sore throat. You may feel nauseous.

The best care is to stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hrs. You need to drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and gargle with salt water. Avoid contact with others and wash your hands often. And get plenty of rest.  There are antiviral medications that are sometimes advised, particularly in the elderly and high-risk patients.  The medications may help to shorten the course of the infection

If you’ve had a flu shot this year, but still get the flu, chances are it will be much less severe than if you were unprotected.  So you are less likely to need the emergency room and in hospital treatment.  And that’s what it’s all about.  We can’t avoid every case of influenza, but we can decrease our chance of a serious episode!