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.

 

Six Top Tips For Healthy Aging

shutterstock_84108826.jpgA healthy older woman is active and independent. By active, I mean being able to do the things you want like meeting your friends, going out, and working out. You don’t have any limitations based on physical issues. Being independent is a more cognitive aspect o f health. It means you are able to do thins such as your own banking, your own housekeeping and travel without needing someone to go with you. You can live on your own, you’re not in any kind of institution.

What are the signs of healthy aging in older women?
There are several markers that are considered predictors for how well you are going to age in the next ten years. Those include:

  • Self-Assessment of quality of life
  • Body Mass Index
  • Ability to walk/run
  • Ability to squat down to the floor
  • Having a strong grip

What steps can you take?

The ability to grip and squat really speak to muscle strength and balance and overall physical fitness. The ability to squat is interesting become some women go walking or to exercise classes but may not be able to maintain their ability to squat. Being able to squat to the floor indicates strong posture and balance and decreases the risk of falling. Because if you fall, you are likely to break something and fractured hips lead to a 25% death rate.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure that reflects the relationship between your weight and height. Healthy women have a BMI of between 20 and 25. Women in this range tend to do better life long, no matter what you’re looking at.
Eat Healthy More of the Time. Have lots of fruits and vegetables and reasonable amounts of protein. My daughter who is a dietitian advises an 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, each a healthy diet based on Canada’s food guide. 20 per cent you can relax a little bit.
When it comes to exercise, you need to do two things; strength training to keep your bones strong and your upper body strong. And some form of aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate for 30 minutes. Meaning you need to exercise with purpose-this is not walking the dog or have a hectic day, hectic is not aerobic.
Stay or become socially connected. A Canadian government study showed that social connectedness  is really important for healthy aging. And you will feel better than if you were isolated by staying at home.
Finally, medicine is a team sport. You and your doctor work in partnership to make good health decisions for you along with other practitioners; pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapist and other healthcare providers.

* Excerpts taken from an interview with Dr. Brown in an article published in Mind Over Matter, Women’s Brain Health Initiative Magazine, 2014

#active #healthy #activeliving

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.

 

Travel alerts internationally for polio and measles outbreaks this summer. Check your vaccinations before traveling

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Travel alerts for polio worldwide & the resurgence of measles outbreaks in Canada, Europe and Africa, highlight the need for Canadians to get vaccinated before traveling to affected areas. Measles is a virus that can affect anyone and is highly contagious for individuals that have not previously had measles, or have not been vaccinated.

As long as measles is affecting children in other parts of the world, Canada will be affected as well. That’s why it’s extremely important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated twice. Once when they are 12-15 months old, and again when they are 4-6 years old. Adults born before 1970 are likely immune, and everyone else needs to check their records. Polio, which has been eliminated from most countries, continues to occur in some areas of the world. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travelers get vaccinated against polio when going to countries where polio has not been eliminated: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Syria, and Iraq.  As for polio, our travel clinics have been busy answering questions from travelers about getting the vaccine even when not travelling in affected areas.  My advice is to have one shot for polio, called IPV as an adult, if you have not already done so.
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus of the same name. It causes fever, runny nose and a characteristic rash all over the body. Most people recover, but the infection is fatal between one and three of every 1,000 cases. Polio is a contagious disease. It is spread from person to person through contaminated food and water. Polio can attack the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles, which may cause paralysis and death.
So please check your vaccinations before travelling this summer.

#travel #summer #healthy

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 shots are in!

The influenza vaccine or ‘flu shot’ is recommended yearly for ALL patients age 6 months and older by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI). Infants and toddlers have an especially high burden of illness and high risk for influenza complications so children five years and younger are especially encouraged to get the vaccine.

Egg allergy – it is still safe to have the flu shot if your allergic reaction to eggs is mild. That means if you have a mild gastrointestinal or mild local skin reaction, or if you can tolerate ingestion of small amounts of egg, you can still get a flu shot.

What is the seasonal flu? From The Public Health Agency of Canada:

Influenza, or the flu, is a common and highly contagious, infectious respiratory disease that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza viruses can change rapidly. That’s why there is a new flu shot made every year to protect against the circulating virus strains.

SEASONAL FLU – SYMPTOMS

Almost always

  • Sudden onset of cough and fever

Sometimes

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Common

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Runny nose

Zostavax – The Shingle’s Vaccine

1 in every 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. The odds of developing this painful disease only increases with age, and so does the risk of the serious complications that can follow the disease, such as “post-herpetic neuralgia”. Zostavax is the first and only vaccine proven to prevent, or at least decrease the  severity of a shingles episode, as well as the risk of post-shingles complications.

Zostavax is indicated in all patients over the age of 50 years. Unfortunately, OHIP does not currently fund this vaccine, but many private insurance plans cover the one time cost. I highly recommend it to all my patients over the age of 50, and I personally couldn’t wait to take it myself!

Here is my 2-minute radio clip about Zostavax.