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.

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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.

ADC’s Dr. Sean Milligan (Neurology) Named Partner In MS Care

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society designated Dr. Sean Milligan, Neurologist, Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic, P.A. as Partner In MS Care

Congratulations Dr. Milligan!

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Lecture: Shhhh… The Sexy Science of the Secret Revolution

Shhh... The Sexy Science of the Secret Revolution

NFL Cheerleaders Shave Heads

Colts Cheerleader Has Personal Reasons Behind Shaving Head for Cancer Research

By Katie Kindelan | ABC News Blogs

Colts cheerleaders shave their heads to raise money for cancer research.  (Photo by Brian Spurlock, US Presswire)

Colts cheerleaders shave their heads to raise money for cancer research. (Photo by Brian Spurlock, US Presswire)

The Indianapolis Colts’ cheerleader who had her head shaved in front of 60,000 cheering fans and a national TV audience had a very personal reason for agreeing to lose her locks to the team’s mascot for cancer research.

SEE A SLIDESHOW (USA Today)

“I’ve had family members and mentors [with cancer] and I volunteer at a local children’s hospital and met little girls who lost their hair and saw the bravery that they possess and it was just something that I wanted to do to help reach others,” Megan M. said today on ” Good Morning America.”

Megan, whose last name was withheld by the Colts as standard team policy, was the sole Colts’ cheerleader to accept a challenge sent out by Blue, the team’s mascot, via Twitter earlier this month to support head coach Chuck Pagano in his battle against leukemia. Megan agreed to lose her locks if Blue could raise $10,000 for cancer research by Nov. 25.

In just weeks, through fans’ donations to the CHUCKSTRONG fund  on the team’s website, more than $22,000 was raised so Megan lost her hair at the start of the Colts’ fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. While Megan was the only cheerleader to publicly agree to the challenge, she was joined by fellow cheerleader Crystal Ann in shaving solidarity on game day, and the two held hands as they both went under the razor.

Twitter Image "Newly bald Colts cheerleader Megan with her father #chuckstrong" - @Fox59Larry

Twitter Image “Newly bald Colts cheerleader Megan with her father #chuckstrong” – @Fox59Larry

“The fans were so supportive and just cheering for me the whole entire time and my captain was really great,” Megan M. told “GMA” of the very public experience. “She tried to call a lot of dances that did not involve a lot of hair whipping around to make me feel more comfortable when I was getting used to it.”

Blue’s challenge to the team’s cheerleaders came after a group of Colts’ players and coaches shaved their heads in support of Pagano, who is undergoing chemotherapy to battle his leukemia.

In addition to Blue’s challenge, the team also partnered with Great Clips earlier this month to offer fans who wanted to shave their heads in honor of Coach Pagano a free buzz cut and a $10 donation to Blue’s CHUCKSTRONG Challenge. All money raised will go to the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, according to the Colts’ website.

Pagano has been absent from the team’s sidelines recently while he undergoes treatment but was in the stands at Sunday’s game as his team beat Buffalo, 20-13. He received a standing ovation from fans at the game and, according to Megan, has been grateful for the fans’ and the team’s support from the start.

“He was nice enough to send me a text while he was going through this himself, thanking me for doing this,” Megan said. “He’s just a really wonderful man.” READ MORE