What You Can Do About the Flu

It’s already time to start preparing for the flu season. Don’t delay, get your flu shot today!

A young person in Florida has already died from the flu, and another woman in Kentucky passed away in mid-October from flu-related illness. These aren’t cold weather states; the flu is already starting this year and will be pervasive in the Panhandle before we know it.

Last year marked the highest level of hospitalization for influenza ever recorded. After such a staggering season, the CDC looked back at 2017 to report on the direct costs – such as doctor’s visits and hospital stays as a result of the flu. The annual cost for treating influenza in the United States in 2017 was $4.6 billion.

You Can Make 2018 a Better Flu Season

There are some positive signs for this flu season. The CDC forecasts the H3N2 influenza virus to have a weaker year than 2017 since, unfortunately, so many people were infected with that particular strain last year. Also, Australia’s recent flu cases (their flu season peaks around our Labor Day) were primarily of the H1N1 strain, which is milder than other strains. We are all hopeful this trend will continue.

Signals of a milder flu strain shouldn’t mean it is time to relax against the disease. Last year, 80,000 Americans died from the flu – most of them over the age of 65. If you are a senior citizen, or come into contact with seniors – at church, in restaurants or theaters, or over the holidays – the flu can be deadly. Everyone should get a flu shot, but especially if you are in contact with Amarillo’s more vulnerable citizens.

Flu shots are still the single most effective way to prevent infection and to stay healthy.

From the time a person is exposed to the flu virus, to the time when symptoms begin is an average of about 2 days. Even so, symptoms may begin as early as the very next day or may not appear for as many as 4 days. At that time, most adults are able to infect others from the day before their symptoms develop, up to 5 to 7 days after becoming ill.

The lengthy and unclear time of being contagious is why many people infect others. They may not “feel sick” and still be contagious. Or they may feel they’ve already beaten the disease after their own illness – and may yet still be contagious to others who haven’t been vaccinated. A flu shot is not only the best way to keep yourself healthy, it is the best way you can keep from infecting others.

5 Tips to Combat Flu Season

  1. If you have flu-like symptoms you should always separate yourself from others and go to bed. A good rule of thumb is to assume that you are contagious for 24 hours after your fever goes away. Stay away from others until that time period has passed.

    2. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you do, wash your hands again.

    3. We’ve all been told to cover our coughs and sneezes. Since a sneeze travels at speeds of 100 miles per hour, they need to be covered. Grab a tissue and use them. And wash your hands.

    4. Clean surfaces and items that have frequent hand contact with anti-bacterial cleaner or wipes.

    5. Get enough sleep. Proper sleep helps keep bodies running at their best, and helps recovery happen quicker. At any stage of the disease, and before infection, sleep is one of the best things you can do to remain healthy.

We are here to care for you! Contact BSA ADC today for a flu shot.

If You Do Become Ill…

We hope that you don’t, but if you do, it’s okay – we can still help you. Prescription antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. Starting medication treatments later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu.

Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any prescription medication.

Advertisements

Diabetes is Not a Death Sentence

Together with ADC, people can live normal lives even with diabetes.

Over 400 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the disease causes over 1 million deaths every year. The disease also damages the body, amplifying other health concerns and is a secondary cause for even more deaths. It also causes blindness and amputations – it’s a very serious disease which, as of yet, has no cure.

But, there is some good news.

When managed properly, people with diabetes can lead long and productive lives. The Endocrinology Department at ADC deals daily with people managing the disease. Today, let’s learn more about the disease and what is necessary to manage it.

How Diabetes Affects the Body


After eating, carbohydrates in food are broken down into sugars to be carried throughout the body via the bloodstream. The body uses those sugars as energy for regular, daily function. The condition of diabetes disrupts this cycle – creating severe, damaging imbalances in blood sugar levels. There are two ways this imbalance occurs.

In Type I Diabetes, the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. The body’s naturally-produced insulin can no longer aid in breaking down blood sugars. With the body is incapable of producing enough of its own insulin, Type I Diabetes is treated with injections of an insulin replacement.

The second type, Type II Diabetes, is a more common form and is also a progressive form of the disease. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance over time. The body still produces insulin, but has difficulty utilizing it effectively. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II Diabetes. As a result of the nature of Type II diabetes, however, the pancreas often wears out due to late detection of the disease or from years of medication. At that point, insulin replacement by injection is – again – necessary.

When caught early, diabetes can easily be treated. The longer someone lives undiagnosed, the worse their health outcome is likely to be. Patients should visit their doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of their treatment can be re-evaluated.

Good glucose control is essential to prevent the onset of diabetic complications that can can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation. But with proper self-care and medical expertise people with diabetes can avoid these complications.

4 Ways To Effectively Manage Diabetes Symptoms

1. Exercise


If diagnosed, one of the best things a person can do for themselves is to exercise on a regular basis. Guidelines recommend a daily exercise regimen for at least 45 minutes that is initiated slowly and built up gradually to avoid injury and to build stamina. Clearance from a physician is imperative for any patient before starting an exercise regimen.

Every person that is overweight significantly increases their chances of contracting diabetes. The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic has a patient education specialist to assist you in the care and management of diabetes through diet and exercise.

2. Check Your Blood Sugar

People living with this disease check their blood sugar levels regularly with a home glucose monitor. A physician or diabetic educator will prescribe a routine and frequency that best suits a patient’s needs. Most recommend checks before breakfast and before supper.

Not only is checking levels necessary for day-to-day health but recording those numbers daily is another necessary step. At doctor visits, a physician will need those readings to understand the full scope of how the patient is managing their disease.

3. Periodic Checks


Glycohemoglobin: This is a test developed for information about average blood sugar level over the course of two or three months. These checks may occur two to four times a year – varying between patients. The American Diabetes Association recommends that the patient’s diabetic regimen achieves a glycohemoglobin level of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated.

Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking would all be considered factors of risk.

Some medications used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by a physician should be taken only as directed. Before adding or deleting any medication – including over the counter medications. Patients should consult their doctor about any changes to their prescriptions.

Microalbumin: This urine test is performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.

Ophthalmologist: A visit should be scheduled annually as well. The doctor can evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.

Finally, patients should have an annual comprehensive medical exam – including a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

4. Sick Days

Living with this disease means that some days are simply going to be worse than others. We refer to them at ADC as “sick days” and they require special consideration. Anything a body perceives as stress has the ability increase blood sugar levels. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If a person with diabetes is ill their blood glucose will likely rise – even if they cannot eat.

Sick Day Best Practices for Diabetics

  • Stick to meal plans if able to eat.
  • Continue diabetes medication unless a physician says otherwise.
  • Check with a doctor before taking any new medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Take a blood sugar test every 4 hours.
  • It is recommended to have someone check on the ill person every few hours, in case the illness progresses.

If in doubt, consult a physician. Early and effective management of these sick days will reduce chances of falling into a diabetic coma.

It Will Be Okay


Taking steps to prevent and control diabetes doesn’t mean life is over. It means eating a tasty, balanced diet, exercising and taking the necessary steps to stay healthy. With these tips, anyone can still take pleasure in life – with diabetes – without feeling deprived.

The Endocrinologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic are thoroughly trained in the management of hormonal and metabolic disorders. Patient education services are available for patients in the care and management of these disorders. We also provide dietary counsel for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

We are here to help, please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Staying Healthy on Vacation in a Foreign Country

Photo by Mysaell Armendariz

How You Can Stay Away From the Summertime Blues

Summertime means vacation time. Beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them and lots of photos for Facebook and Instagram. For many travelers, however, vacations can also lead to sickness. Drinking bottled water helps reduce the chances of “Delhi Belly” and “Montezuma’s Revenge;” getting appropriate vaccinations are always recommended.

The chances of contracting Hepatitis A also increases when you travel outside of the American borders. This highly contagious viral disease is hardest on seniors with weaker immune systems. The disease attacks mainly the liver. At its peak, it can leave you feeling weak for an extended period of time – in some cases, even months. The symptoms begin several weeks after contracting the disease, so Hepatitis A won’t likely ruin your vacation – but it can put a damper on the rest of your summer.

How To Know If You’re At-Risk

Traveling with reputable companies to first-class accommodations does not eliminate contracting contagious diseases. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick to higher-level hotels and resorts. A gourmet meal or a pristine bathroom can still harbor disease – and the rigors of traveling can weaken your natural defenses. Assume you are at risk whenever you travel abroad, regardless of the level of cleanliness and service.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. If you buy fresh fruits or vegetables at a local market, wash them with bottled water before eating. Very hot coffees and teas are typically safe, but ask for a disposable cup, not a hand-washed mug.

While you’re on vacation, you may be substituting drinking water for other beverages, but dehydration can leave you vulnerable. Alcoholic drinks tend to be safe (use your straw, and – even on vacation – always drink in moderation). Drinking water is historically less so. Quench your thirst with bottled water instead of local “tap” water – and use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Skip the ice, and don’t drink beverages of unknown purity. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before using it.

Wondering If You Have Hepatitis A?

Don’t panic. Most cases of hepatitis A are mild cases don’t require treatment. Nearly everyone who becomes infected recovers without permanent liver damage. But vigilance is always a better choice than treatment. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Hepatitis A can last from a mild case of several weeks to a severe case lasting a few months. Again, age often plays a factor in the severity of the symptoms. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms appear most often four weeks after exposure and develop over several days. Symptoms may also start abruptly in as few as two weeks or as many as seven, and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Finally, not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms. For this reason it is important to be diligent upon returning home from an area prone to the disease. Immediately, wash your clothing, bathe, and clean personal items with disinfectant.

Should You See the Doctor?

Exposure to hepatitis A can be treated before the first signs of symptoms. You can receive the hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure to thwart possible infection. Likewise, immunoglobulin therapy is also available before the beginning of symptoms. Ask your doctor – or your local health department – about receiving treatment for hepatitis A if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or to South or Central America, or to any area with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is not a living bacterial infection, it is a viral disease. As is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once infected. At this point, the only thing you can do is get a lot of rest.

How You Can Stay Healthy

To avoid getting hepatitis A you have to know how you can get infected in the first place. For all illnesses that commonly affect travelers, follow these simple instructions:

  • Do NOT eat food handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water. Shellfish (like mussels, clams) or any local fish where there is an outbreak of disease.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water. Eating even a healthful salad can make you sick in a month. Stick to cooked vegetables for your diet.
  • Hepatitis A is most often found on your hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example). The disease is then transferred to your mouth, where it enters your system. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Again, contaminated drinking water can put you at risk for Hepatitis A and other illnesses. Avoid ice and brush your teeth with safe, bottled water.

You can have a great vacation and not worry about contracting a disease if you practice good hygiene. Those most likely to contract hepatitis A will do so from contaminated food or water. But don’t forget that the disease can also spread from close contact with someone who’s infected. Wash your hands frequently, and any older travelers should look into the two-part Hepatitis A vaccine.