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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Save Life with These Vaccines

Pneumococcal Disease
Whats involved: One shot plus a booster at 65 if its been more than five years since the first shot.
Who needs it: All adults 65 and older, as well as anyone who has a compromised immune system (say, due to an illness such as cancer or HIV).
Why its worth it: People in these particular groups are at a significantly high risk for a bloodstream infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, explains William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. These bacteria hang out harmlessly enough in our throats. But when our lungs become susceptible to infection due smoking, asthma, or a weakened immune system, “these bugs get into the lungs and into the bloodstream,” he says. “Even today, in the 21st century, this infection has a mortality rate of 15 to 25%.”

Chicken Pox (Varicella)
Whats involved: A one-time series of two shots, at least four weeks apart
Who needs it: Anyone born after 1980 who did not either have chicken pox or get the two-shot vaccine series as a kid. Folks born before 1980 are presumed immune to chicken pox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, if youre over 31 and have never had the disease, ignore the 1980 rule and get a blood test to check for virus antibodies, especially if youre planning to get pregnant or you work in the healthcare field. If the blood test reveals youre not immune, start the vaccine series immediately. If youre already pregnant, start the series right after you give birth.
Why its worth it: Its a must if youre thinking about getting pregnant, since the virus can cause birth defects and stillbirth—and you can get it just from being in a room with someone whos sick. No matter what, its a good idea to get immunized because chicken pox tends to be a lot more severe in grown-ups than in kids: Half of all virus-related deaths occur in adults, even though adults account for less than 5% of cases.

Shingles
Whats involved: A one-time shot
Who needs it: Adults 60 and older. (Between 50 and 60? The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the vaccine for use in your age group, though the CDC hasnt decided whether to recommend you get it yet.)
Why its worth it: The vaccine can halve your risk for shingles, a debilitating illness thats essentially the return of chicken pox virus thats been hiding in your nerve endings for the last few decades. As our immune system weakens with age, the virus reemerges along the nerve pathways, causing a painful, blistery rash. Even after the rash disappears, shingles pain can linger for months, even years.

About Vaccines

When it comes to the history of vaccines, it’s been a long, bumpy ride. Once hailed as lifesaving wonders of modern technology, vaccines are now more likely to be a source of suspicion and angry playground debate.

# Docs make money off them

Vaccines aren’t a cash cow for docs. “It’s probably more of a money loser than anything,” says Dr. Nelson, because they’re labor intensive. Some doctors do receive financial incentives from HMOs, but “the bonuses are there to support high-quality practice and help the physicians justify the manpower that goes into administering them,” she says.

# Some vaccines contain mercury

Thimerosal, a preservative containing about 50% mercury, prevents contamination by bacteria. It can be found in most flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

# Vaccines aren’t necessary because disease has been eradicated

The only infectious human disease that has been eradicated worldwide is smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even today there are outbreaks of conditions like measles, mumps, and pertussis.

# Natural immunity is better

Dr. Nelson says infections are more likely than vaccines to trigger lifelong immunity. (An exception is the flu; it changes strains every year.) But you may think twice about taking your little one to a chicken pox party.

# Pregnant women can’t get vaccines

Well, this is partially true. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pregnant women should not be given vaccines for varicella (chicken pox) or MMR.

# The HPV shot is for girls only

There are two HPV vaccines: Cervarix, for girls and women 10 to 25, and Gardasil, for females 9 to 26. But Gardasil can also be given to boys and men between ages 9 to 26, according to the CDC. Gardasil protects against types 6 and 11 of human papillomavirus, which cause about 90% of all genital warts.

# Vaccines are for kids only

There are numerous vaccines that can help keep adolescents and adults, both young and old, healthy. Most obvious is the flu shot, which is given annually.

# Too many shots weaken the immune system

Dr. Brown says it’s quite the contrary. “Each dose allows the body to mount an immune response and make defense [antibodies] so the body can fight off a real infection if it showed up,” she says.

#  Vaccines guarantee protection

Vaccines are not a 100% guarantee you won’t get sick. But they are a huge help.

# You’re safe if everyone else is vaccinated

Unfortunately that’s a big if. “Often, like-minded unvaccinated families by choice attend the same preschools, playgroups, and schools, thus making it very easy for vaccine-preventable diseases to spread,” says Ari Brown, MD, pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

# Vaccines can have side effects

Vaccines aren’t risk free. The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and fever, which are best treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Less common are seizures (defined as “jerking or staring”), and risks

Fight Headache Pain Tips

headacheMore than 47 million Americans have encountered an extreme or crippling migraine in the previous three months. Headaches alone influence 9% of the U.S. populace and expenses $1 billion a year in direct restorative costs.

There are the undeniable decisions for destroying the agony, for example, nonsteroidal mitigating drugs (Motrin and Aleve, for instance). Individuals with headaches frequently take beta blockers or antidepressants to counteract migraines, and triptans, for example, Imitrex or Relpax, once side effects begin.

# Acupuncture

In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted under the skin to realign the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. In general, treatments run $60 to $120 per session, according to Acufinder.com, an acupuncture referral service.

# Massage

For temporary relief, try rubbing your temples or getting a neck, back, head, or shoulder massage.

# Stretching

Headache-relieving stretches can get at muscle tension that contributes to pain. Add them to your workout or use them when a headache looms.

# Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses electronic sensors to monitor body functions such as muscle tension, skin temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Data are fed back to the patient through sounds or computer images. The goal is to teach people how to control bodily responses—easing tight muscles, for example—to prevent headache pain.

# Aerobics

Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, biking, or swimming, can reduce migraine intensity and frequency, according to the National Pain Foundation.

# Meditation

Various meditation techniques can be used to focus attention and quiet the mind from distractions such as chronic pain.\

# Yoga

Could striking a camel pose ease your aching head? Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to boost relaxation and balance the mind, body, and spirit, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

# Relaxation exercises

Deep breathing, relaxing to music, or using mental imagery can help people unwind and possibly help with headache too. Additional research is needed, however.

# Heat and cold

Anyone can use this no-risk headache therapy—even pregnant women.

# Avoid nitrates and nitrites

Nitrites and nitrates in processed meats and monosodium glutamate (MSG) used in foods as a flavor enhancer have been linked to migraines. Some heart medicines also contain nitrate.

# Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Delivering magnetic pulses to the brain may become a useful therapy for zapping migraines, research suggests. A recent study found that when patients treated a migraine with transcranial magnetic stimulation, they got better relief than those who treated their pain with a placebo device.

# Electrode implants

People with intractable headaches may one day rely on electrodes implanted in the neck or brain to provide pain relief.