Posted in flu, Health, news, seniors

Flu Deaths Reported in Multiple States: Do We Also Have a Severe Pneumonia Season?

 

This year’s flu season has claimed the lives of at least 6 children and many more adults.  It’s widespread in many states, and we are told to brace ourselves for yet another severe flu season as we enter the peak.

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CDC

 

However, the number one cause of death when it comes to the flu is pneumonia.  And the respiratory depression that appears to come on with these otherwise healthy individuals, appears to affect them within hours. Which brings the question…. Should we be entertaining the possibility that a severe pneumonia strain is affecting us this “flu season” and should we be encouraging pneumonia vaccines as well as the flu vaccine?

Most children are vaccinated against pneumonia

The vaccine schedule for children in the US includes the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 – 15 months of age.  Over 2 years of a child, one can get the PPSV23 if they did not receive the PCV13.

Not all young adults get the pneumonia vaccine, however if one if over 65, the CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccines receiving a dose of PCV13 first, followed by a dose of PPSV23, at least 1 year later.

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CDC

 

Now a variety of pathogens can be responsible for pneumonia, including viruses’, fungi, and bacteria other than pneumococcus, but streptococcal pneumonia is the most common cause.  If those affected by pneumonia this year were vaccinated, we need to know the strain, meaning specifically what pathogen was responsible for their pneumonia.

Not all pneumonia presents with a cough

Although pneumonia presents with symptoms such as fever, body aches, cough, shortness of breath and sputum production, some individuals may not present with these symptoms when they have pneumonia. Some of the tragic “flu death” cases this year were in adults who initially had a “mild cough”. Since flu symptoms are similar, some may never know if they have pneumonia.

As a result we are telling patients who have the flu to return immediately to the doctor’s office/urgent care/emergency room if they have any of the below symptoms:

  • Recurring fever
  • Fever that won’t subside after 2 days
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Productive cough
  • Blood in sputum
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Chest pain

and speak with your medical provider regarding other symptoms they may want you to watch out for.

How to tell when your flu is turning deadly

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio, KDWN, and is a Board Certified Family Physician

 

 

 

Posted in Blood, children, Christmas, donations, Health, news, seniors

Giving Tuesday: Ideas If You’re On A Budget

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage generosity and altruism.  The holidays are an ideal time to share our blessings and fortunes with others who may be less fortunate.  Many charities find this time the busiest of the year and funds are needed to help the great work they do, hence #GivingTuesday couldn’t come at a more opportune time.  Donations of any size can be life saving.

giving

However, some of us may be on very tight budgets and unable to donate money.  No worries….Giving Tuesday is not just about monetary donations.  There are TONS of meaningful ways one can give to help others.

Blood Donation

The winter season is a challenging time for many of our blood banks and every 3 seconds, someone needs blood. When one donates a pint of blood it can help save up to 3 lives. And it doesn’t cost a cent.

The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations. Local blood drives can be found at redcross.org.

Vitalant has locations throughout the country that can accept your blood donation as well. Contact Vitalant here.

Food Drives

Collecting non perishable food items from your pantry, neighbors or coworkers can be done quickly, easily and when taken to a shelter or organization can feed hungry and sometimes malnourished people in your community.

Clothing Drives

How many of us have saved our clothes from high school hoping we’ll fit into them again?  Well we won’t….so why hold on to a lost dream.  Tons of clothes in your closet can clothe those in need of the community…and an extra benefit is now you’ll create extra space in your closet.

Volunteer

Many shelters and charities need all hands on deck during this time of year.  Churches and temples organize community events as well and could use the extra manpower. Donating your time is worth hundreds of dollars for charities who sometimes need to hire people to help them accomplish the great work they do.

Host a Neighborhood Garage Sale

This is easy and fun where the neighborhood comes together to donate items they wish to sell, and all the money raised goes to a charity of choice.

Donate your Work

Some families could use a service or product that your company provides.  Offering a family in need some surplus or an hour of your time could go a long way.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Health, news, seniors

How to Avoid Falls in Older Adults

One of the leading causes of hospitalization in the elderly is a fall at home.  And in those 65 and older, falls contribute to the leading cause of fatal injury in that age group.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 25% of seniors fall each year.  On their website they cite the following:

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

So how can we prevent falls in older individuals?

 

Improve the lighting in the home

Many times light bulbs extinguish and are slow to get replaced.  Many lighting fixtures in the house emanate from the ceiling, hence the average person needs to wait for a family member, neighbor or handyman to come over and assist in changing the lightbulb. This results in a room remaining darker than it’s supposed to be.

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Moreover the location of lighting may not be ideally placed, augmenting shadows that could intervene with one’s view causing them to miss their step.

 

Avoid having untrained 4-legged pets in the home

 

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Dogs love to follow their owners everywhere they go in a hot second.  And cats love to rub up against one’s ankles and calves to remind you to feed them.  No matter what age, our fluffy critters can cause us to trip.  Birds or goldfish may be a safer option to avoid falls.

Clean up the clutter

Boxes, piles of magazines, balls and toys the grandchildren leave lying around can all impede one’s stride.  The less often one needs to pivot and walk around something, the less chance they have of falling.

 

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Use non-slip mats on flooring surfaces

Many floors become slippery when wet and non-slip mats, flooring can help.

 

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One still needs to be careful avoiding tripping on the slip guard but these can be carefully installed.

Avoid mats and rugs that lift up and can catch on a foot.

Non-slip socks can also help our seniors when they walk around the home.

 

Install handrails and guards around the home

Walls and furniture do not provide adequate support for those who need assistance standing up and walking.  Moreover, many of these home modifications are tax-deductible which will help offset the price.

 

Improve their sight and hearing

Cataracts and hearing loss can plague seniors, making them more vulnerable to falls.

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Preventing falls is essential for our seniors and if more advice is needed please visit here.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician