On Being Healthy: Setting Goals

It is a new year and with new years come resolutions. For many years, the most common NY resolution has been to change to a healthy lifestyle, either by losing weight, improving diet, or exercising. Goals without plans of execution are destined to fail. So no matter what your goal is, whether it is to lose weight, exercise, read more, make new friends, do a daily devotional, or find a new hobby, you must have a plan.

1.) Setting Realistic Goals

Goals must be attainable and realistic. When I counsel patients on obesity, they usually have some unrealistic expectation for weight loss. Women especially! (Women, just face the fact that you will not lose weight as fast as your male counterparts. God designed us to hold on to calories in order to continue the human race in the event of famine. So… if you get marooned on an island, you will out live your husband.)

  • So what is a realistic goal? For weight loss centered on lifestyle change, 2-4 pounds a month averaged over several months, for there will be plateaus and dips. For those wanting to read more, start with 1 book if you read 0 last year. If you read 10 last year, increase it to 12. For those wanting to improve diet, pick one thing you will REMOVE and one thing to ADD to your diet.
  • Start small. Accomplish the small goals. Count the victories. THEN improve upon those results. Did you lose 5 pounds in a month? Great! Lets do it again next month. Did you go 1 month without a soda? Great! Now see if you can go 1 month without soda and dessert. Did you get to your book goal by June? Awesome! Double it by December. No one was ever discouraged by meeting goals early, but I have seen many people set too lofty of goals and get discouraged and quit. You must know yourself. Do you have the will power to push yourself to lofty goals or do you need tiny victories to help encourage you along the way?

2.) Be specific.

Do not be vague with your goals. Don’t say “Lose Weight”, instead say “Lose 15 pounds by June”. Don’t say “Read more”, say “Read 5 books this year.” Don’t say “Exercise more”, say “Walk/run/swim/bike 3 times a week for 30 minutes.” Know exactly what you are striving for so that you can celebrate when you achieve that milestone.

3.) Making a Plan

So you set your goal… Now what? You need to come up with a way to get from point A to point B.

  • So you decided to lose weight. Are you going to do that by exercising? Dieting? Both? See below for further specifics.
  • You want to try to eat healthier. What are you going to do? Weight watchers? A fad diet? Paleo? Keto? Whole 30? South Beach? Does heart disease run in your family? Do you need to think about low fat/cholesterol diet plans? What about osteoporosis? Do you need to increase your dietary calcium?
  • You decided to exercise. What type of exercise do you think you will enjoy? When are you going to exercise? Where are you going to exercise? If it is outside, what is your indoor contingency plan?
  • You want to do a daily devotional or quiet time. Are you going to do a guided devotion plan on the Bible app? Are you going to use a Bible reading plan? Will you journal your findings and prayers? Will you do this in the morning or evening? How are you going to adjust your schedule to make time for this?
  • You want to find a new hobby. What are you going to try first? Do your friends have any hobbies you find appealing? What hobbies fit into your lifestyle- budget and time?

4.) Accomplishing the Goal

Celebrate! Do not be ashamed to tell your friends or family. Be proud of what you accomplished. That 5 pounds is great! That one book is a milestone! Walking 30 minutes 2 times a week is an improvement for you!
Do not compare yourself to others because that will rob you of joy or plant a seed of envy.

5.) In the Event of Failure

If you do not meet your goals, take time to reflect to see why you failed. Then alter your plan and try again!

  • You didn’t meet your weight loss goal… So did you cheat on your diet? Fail to stick to your exercise schedule? Did you have some health problems that hindered your ability to exercise? Did your metabolism come to a screeching halt because of menopause? Are you getting empty calories somewhere that you don’t realize? Are your portion sizes too big? Is your lifestyle to sedentary?
  • You didn’t reach your book goal… Did one book bog you down because it wasn’t enjoyable? Did you have a hard time finding time to sit down and read a physical book? Would it benefit you to start reading on a kindle book since you will always have it with you? (Waiting rooms and car pool lines are great for reading instead of browsing Facebook) or listening to audio books on your commute (mine is only 12 minutes and I listened to 60 audio books last year)?
  • You didn’t find a hobby… Did you make time to try several activities? Did you go with a friend? Did you give each activity more than one try? Sit back and reflect on what you truly enjoy. Do you like to be active, still, creative, indoors, outdoors, interactive, reflective? Have you considered things that are not traditionally considered hobbies? Vacation planning, tutoring, volunteering, meditation, yoga, trivia night, board games, wine/craft beer tasting, cooking, yard work/gardening.

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is one of my favorite meals. It’s easy to make and can be kept fairly healthy. Any time you see red, yellow, or orange bell peppers on sale, you can bet my family will be eating them within the week!

To make this diabetic friendly: leave out the corn.

To make this DASH diet friendly: do not use jarred tomato sauce. Use fresh cut tomatoes.

This is pretty low in cholesterol, but leaving out the cheese would be even better.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 bell peppers, any combination of red, yellow, and orange
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 1 can of mexi-corn, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and washed
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp of onion powder
  • 1 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • Mexican style shredded cheese (Monterrey jack or cheddar will work too)
  • Optional: 1 can of diced tomatoes (with or without green chilies) or salsa

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Brown turkey and drain.
  3. Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove the stem and dice the top of the pepper into small pieces. Remove the seeds from inside the peppers.
  4. Sauté the diced onion and peppers together until soft.
  5. Mix browned turkey, peppers, onions, beans, corn, and spices.
  6. Pour 1/3 tomato sauce into the bottom of a Pyrex dish. Pour the rest into the meat mixture. Also add your tomatoes or salsa at this time if you would like.
  7. Stuff peppers with the mixture, then top with cheese. (We always put remaining mixture around the peppers in the dish.)
  8. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes.

The stuffing makes great nachos or tacos, so serve the excess up with tortillas or chips!

Winter is Coming: Pneumonia

What is pneumonia?

It is an infection within the lungs. Typically, the small air sacs within the lungs fill with fluid or pus.

Is it serious or life threatening?

It can be. It can be mild or so severe that it requires hospitalization. Sometimes it is so severe that it causes sepsis and the patient to be dependent on a ventilator.

What are the symptoms?

  • chest pain with breathing or coughing (pleurisy)
  • cough, with or without phlegm
  • fatigue
  • fever and chills
  • shortness of breath
  • lethargy

In adults older than 65, infections can cause confusion or bizarre behavior. It can also cause lower than normal body temperature as opposed to high fever.

What is the cause of pneumonia?

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause. We classify pneumonia based on what is causing it and where you got it. We will focus on the “community-acquired” pneumonias.

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the United States. It can occur on its own, but it often times happens after one has a cold virus or the flu.
  • Walking pneumonia is caused by mycoplasma bacteria. It is typically less mild than other types of pneumonia. (It is usually not bad enough to cause someone to take to their bed, hence the term “walking pneumonia”.)
  • Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in kiddos below the age of 5. It is usually mild, but can become serious.

There are also hospital-acquired, health care-associated, and aspiration pneumonias, but these will not be addressed in this article.

Who is at risk?

Children less than 2 and adults over 65 are the individuals at greatest risk. Naturally, diseases that affect your lungs will leave you more prone to infections. Therefore, COPD, asthma, and heart disease put you at increased risk. Smoking also greatly increases your risk since smoking damages the cilia that help “clean” your bronchi.

Does going outside with wet hair and bare feet cause pneumonia?

No, but your grandma was right. You don’t need to go outside with we hair and bare feet.

How does the doctor know if I have pneumonia?

We will listen to your history and do a physical exam. Listening to you explain your symptoms and listening to your lungs can tell us a lot about what is going on. Usually we will get a chest x-ray to confirm our suspicions.

How do you treat it?

Antibiotics are generally required to treat pneumonia. We also use cough medications to treat the cough and tylenol (acetaminophen) or motrin (ibuprofen) to treat the pain and fever.

Do I need an X-ray to see if it “cleared up”?

No, because it can take months before your x-ray looks normal again, even when the infection is gone. If you continue to exhibit symptoms after your antibiotics are complete, we will usually order a CT scan for a more detailed image and see if anything else is going on.

How do I prevent it?

  • Vaccines: If you have lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, or you are over the age of 65, you need to get your pneumonia vaccines. Also, getting a flu shot will help protect you.
  • Quit smoking!
  • Wash your hands!
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly to keep your immune system strong!

Winter is Coming: Bronchitis

Bronchitis is one of the most common conditions treated in my office during the fall and winter.

Chronic bronchitis is a different topic. It is a sub-type of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. This post will describe the more common occurring acute bronchitis. This post also does not necessarily apply patients who may have compromised immune systems.

What exactly is “bronchitis”?

Bronchitis means inflammation of the bronchus, or the large airways of the lower respiratory tract. This inflammation causes a cough that lasts five days or more. It typically resolves on its own within 1-3 weeks.

How do you get bronchitis?

Bronchitis is mostly caused by respiratory viruses. These are spread by contact with other infected individuals or with surfaces that have been contaminated by sick individuals.

What are the most common causes of bronchitis?

Flu and the common cold are the most common causes of bronchitis. RSV, which can be very troublesome in little ones, is also a frequent cause of bronchitis.

How does a doctor diagnose bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a clinical diagnosis. A doctor must examine the patient and listen to the lungs to ensure that there is nothing more serious going on as well. Often times, the patient will have a upper respiratory infection that precedes the symptoms of bronchitis. My patients most often say, “It moved into my chest.”

How do you treat bronchitis?

We cannot cure bronchitis directly, but we treat the symptoms until it resolves on its own. There is no medication we can give to cure a virus. Tamiflu will shorten the duration of the flu virus, but it still wreaks havoc on your bronchi and causes bronchitis. The bronchitis can last up to 6 weeks after the flu.

At what point would a physician be concerned that it is more than just bronchitis?

Pertussis is one thing that concerns physicians as more and more parents refuse to vaccinate their children. Pertussis is especially dangerous for infants, small children, those with respiratory disease, and adults over 65. Pertussis is characterized by fits of coughing, “whooping” on inhalation, and vomiting after a particularly violent coughing fit. This usually lasts more than two weeks.

Walking pneumonia is also a concern when there is a lingering cough. This will be further addressed in the next post on Pneumonias.

If a patient develops fever, fast respiratory rate, becomes lethargic, or wheezing, further examination and x-rays may be warranted.

What can mimic bronchitis?

Post nasal drip syndrome, reflux, asthma, heart failure, and lung cancer can all cause a chronic nagging cough that can mimic bronchitis. If a cough lasts longer than 3 weeks, you should be evaluated by your physician.

An Apple A Day: Wellness Exams

Preventative medicine is one of the most undervalued parts of medicine. How can one measure the value of not having a disease? The bible tells us that our days are numbered yet we don’t know how many of them we have. The Bible, science, and history all have warned us of the things that can rob days from us: tobacco use, alcoholism, uncontrolled cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, slothfulness, gluttony, pneumonia, and cancer.

This post is about what you should have done depending on your age and stage of life. Keep in mind that insurance plans vary and all that is recommended may not be covered by your plan. Also, different specialty societies (such as the American College of Gynecology or American College of Physicians or American Urologic Association) may have different recommendations than the US Preventative Task Force. I have compiled the recommendations that I feel are most useful, and even these can vary depending on patient’s medical and family history. It is important that you consult with your primary care physician to discuss the screenings and vaccines that are appropriate for you.

General Wellness:

Each year:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Depression
  • Tobacco use
  • Flu shot
  • Lung cancer screening  (low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years)

Every other year:

  • Vision (starting at age 40)

Every 10 years:

  • Colonoscopy (at age 50 or earlier if indicated by family history)
  • Tetanus vaccination (Tdap once in adulthood- also given to women during pregnancy and immediate family of infants)
  • Hepatitis C (1-time screening for HCV infection to adults born between 1945 and 1965)
  • Shingles vaccine (recommended to those 50 or older who have not had singles in past 6 months)
  • Pneumonia vaccines (2 different vaccinations needed after age 65 or earlier if patient is at risk due to conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes)

Women’s Wellness:

Each year:

  • Mammogram starting at age  40 (earlier if indicated by family history)

Every other year:

  •  Bone density starting at 65 years old (starting at age 60 if risk factors present)

Every 3 years:

  • Pap smears starting at age 21; after age 30, women can opt for every 5 years if done with HPV co-testing; discuss with your OB/GYN what is the best for you

Men’s Wellness:

Each year:

  • Prostate specific antigen, also known as  PSA starting at age 55
    • *Prostate cancer screening is highly debated topic right now. The US Preventative Task force state that men between 55-69 should discuss the benefits of this test with their physician before having it done. Often times men have to pay out of pocket because some insurance plans no longer cover it.

Once:

  •  Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (between the age of 65-75 if smoked >100 cigarettes during lifetime)

Trick or Treat: Peanut Allergies

Halloween is such a fun time. Costumes, pumpkin carving, cooler temperatures, and sugar highs for days on end. While it is a time of celebration for most, for some parents, it is a time of significant anxiety. The incidence of food allergies has increased in recent decades, and the parents of kids who have food allergies live in fear of their kid accidentally getting some piece of candy that unknown to them, may have an allergen in it with devastating consequences. While there are many allergies, peanut allergies are the ones I am focusing on today.

I have a guest blogger today, Dr. Lindsay McMullan, who is an allergist at the Asthma and Allergy Clinic of Hattiesburg. She is a board certified allergist and immunologist and she is also board certified in internal medicine. She did her residency and fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She is married and has 3 beautiful children.

What is the teal pumpkin project?

The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness for food allergy and encourages non-food treats for Halloween marked by a teal colored pumpkin in front of the venue where treats are being distributed. Participants can mark their location on the project map and also visit the site for treat ideas.

The point is to help ease the stress and increase the fun of Halloween for food allergy families. One of their biggest resources: FARE  (Food Allergy Resource & Education), has instituted the Teal Pumpkin Project. Resources are available for a variety of Halloween celebrations. What a great way to show support for friends and family with food allergies!

To learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project visit: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project

What happens to a kid when they eat peanuts and have a peanut allergy?

Peanut allergy can cause symptoms such as hives or whelps, swelling including: lips, tongue, and throat, asthma attacks, and stomach symptoms. They can also be so severe that they threaten someone’s life. We call severe reactions anaphylaxis.

How can you be sure that candy or foods do not have peanuts in it?

Peanuts are required to be listed as a possible allergen on the ingredient label if the food contains peanuts.  We talk to our allergy patients about reading every label.  If foods are not labeled, you can ask the person who prepared the food if it contains peanuts or has been contaminated by peanuts (such as cooked on the same surface).

Why are food allergies becoming more common?

There is not one answer to this question. It involves many factors. Some problems with food are different from an actual allergy but can still make you feel bad. So it is important to be sure your diagnosis is correct because instructions and risks can be different.  A test by itself does not diagnose a food allergy.  There are also tests available that are advertised as allergy tests but do not actually check for any allergy.  Your primary care physician can refer you to a board certified allergy specialist if a food allergy is suspected.

When is the appropriate age to introduce peanuts? Also milk, eggs, etc?

Food introduction should not be delayed out of concern for allergy. In fact, earlier introduction for peanuts helps to decrease the likelihood of allergy in many patients. (link to information about this).  During infancy, when other foods are introduced, is ok to introduce peanuts and eggs. Milk is not introduced until after the age of 1 due to other concerns, though milk containing products such as cheese may be introduced before then.  Some children such as those with severe eczema or a known egg allergy may need additional caution before introducing peanuts. Board certified pediatricians and family medicine physicians can help parents navigate food introduction for infants and also help refer to board certified allergists when assistance is needed.

Is peanut allergy the same as tree nut allergy?

No. Peanuts are actually legumes and grow in the ground.  Many peanut allergic people are not allergic to tree nuts, just as many tree nut allergic people can eat peanuts. There are people who are allergic to both. An allergist can help a person figure out if they are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or both.

How can I be more considerate of those with food allergies?

This is a GREAT question.  At Halloween, offering non-food treats such as stickers or other items is helpful. You can use a Teal Pumpkin (link that was in first paragraph for the project) to notify trick-or-treaters that you have non-food treats.  Educating your children, grandchildren, and friends to be kind and not bully those with food allergies is also important. Finally, if you are hosting an event, or preparing food for an event, checking for possible food allergies is great. If this is not possible, labeling your food with ingredients goes a LONG way towards helping those with food allergies know what is safe.

Trick or Treat: Strep Throat

Another common reason for visit to the doctor’s office in the fall is concern for strep throat. This is not necessarily due to the fall season, but there tends to be a spike as school starts back.

Everyone is at risk. Strep throat is not isolated to pediatric patients. So… How do you know the difference between strep, allergies, or a run of the mill viral infection?

Here are a few things to look for whenever you start to feel your throat getting scratchy:

  1. Do you have fever?
  2. Do you have a cough?
  3. Do you have white patches or “pus pockets” on your tonsils?
  4. Do you have swollen lymph nodes in your neck?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, it would be worth going to get tested for strep by your primary care physician. Strep throat generally requires an antibiotics, while viral infection and allergy symptoms are relieved by over the counter medications. Your physician can determine what is causing your symptoms and prescribe the right treatment for you and get you on the road to recovery.

Things that you can do for a sore throat:

  1. Stay hydrated! Drink cold water or suck on ice chips.
  2. Warm liquids also help to soothe. Try honey in tea. Honey helps especially if you have a cough or a lot of post nasal drainage.
  3. Chloraseptic spray or cough drops can help lessen the pain in your throat temporarily.
  4. Tylenol and ibuprofen can also help relieve the pain of a sore throat.
  5. If you are having a lot of congestion and drainage, take guaifenesin plus sudafed. Sudafed is a controlled substance in Mississippi, so a prescription is required. This may not be so in other states.

Chipotle Roasted Sweet Potatoes

These sweet potatoes are incredible. They are a staple at our house!

**These are not appropriate for a diabetic diet. I would leave out or significantly decrease the amount of brown sugar in these if you are diabetic. If you are trying to lose weight or cut your cholesterol, try substituting the butter for olive oil. Honey may also be an option instead of brown sugar. If you have high blood pressure, leave out the salt.

sweet potatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  •  1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (don’t skip this! Clean up is difficult if paper is not used!).
  2. Whisk brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper together with the melted butter in a small bowl.
  3.  Toss sweet potatoes and butter mixture together in a large bowl. Toss until evenly coated. Pour potatoes in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Roast in the preheated oven until potatoes are tender, usually 30 to 45 minutes.

I usually try to stir the potatoes halfway through so the bottoms don’t burn. The sugary butter mix can make them turn crispy quickly!

*Side note: sweet potatoes do not keep well if you try and prep them in advance. They tend to dry out in the fridge. I learned this the hard way!

Trick or Treat: Flu Season Safety

As my previous post mentioned, the flu shot is not 100% effective. Just because you get the flu shot, does not mean that you are Ironman. You may be safer than those who are not immunized, but you are still at risk. So how do we keep safe?

WASH YOUR HANDS

Soap and water. Keep them clean! I avoid shaking hands with my patients during flu season. I wipe down my grocery carts with the sanitizing wipes like a crazy person. I make my kids wipe down the cart as we drive through Kroger. I bathe them in hand sanitizer quite frequently in parking lots. I’m kidding, sort of.

Also, for my athletes (specifically you basketball players): don’t share water bottles. Get your own and put your name on it. The quickest way to lose the conference title is to give the whole team the flu during tournament time!

DO NOT GO TO SCHOOL OR WORK WITH FEVER

Or church. Or Kroger. Or Chuck E. Cheese. Stay home! Please be fever free for at least 24 hours before coming back into the public sector. We do not want your germs.

It is NOT OK to put mix Motrin and juice in your kids sippy cup and send them to school so they will be fever free until at least noon just so you can cross a few things off your to do list.

EAT A HEALTHY DIET

Eat a diet that is well rounded. Make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C! Fruits and veggies are important. Potatoes do not count as veggies!

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP

Your body needs sleep to function properly, even your immune system!

IF YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH THE FLU

Call your primary care physician to see if you should be treated prophylactically against the flu.

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE FLU

Call your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms or get an appointment.

I personally like to put my febrile patients immediately into a room to prevent infecting the rest of the patients who are in my waiting room.

Trick Or Treat: Flu Shots

I was saving this post for October, but I’m going to go ahead and post it since I’ve been asked about flu shots at almost every visit this week.

Vaccines are a controversial topic for the non-medical world. Pediatricians fight this battle on a daily basis. Science has shown us that vaccines work and that they do not cause autism. While we are now largely safe from measles and mumps and my children will likely never have to worry about chicken pox and subsequently shingles, we still have those who choose not to vaccinate. Specifically, we have adult patients who chose to forego flu shots, even if they do choose to vaccinate their children for communicable diseases. If you have kids or elderly parents or relatives, get the flu shot to protect them.

2017-2018 flu epidemic was scary. The flu killed 180 children according to the CDC reports. It was putting young healthy adults and teenagers in the intensive care units.

My husband was sick with the flu for 7 days. The guy is IRON MAN. His immune system is incredible. This was the first illness he has had since I met him in 2009 (aside from that one time as a bachelor that he ate questionable food from his fridge). He some how dodged the stomach virus every single time it strikes our house. He works out daily and eats pretty healthy. He takes very good care of himself and even he couldn’t avoid the flu last season. He was flat on his back for 7 days and I was truly concerned that I was going to have to take him to the hospital when he started coughing up blood. I forced him to go see his doctor (ironic, huh?)and he tested positive for flu A. Chest X-ray showed that the blood was just from irritation in his throat and not from a raging pneumonia. He recovered and neither me nor the kids got the flu from him. The flu shot protected us. It also protected me from the patients I diagnosed with the flu on a daily basis for 16 weeks that flu season plagued us.

So let’s tackle some flu vaccine myths.

Flu shot myth #1: “The flu shot gave me the flu.”

No. No it did not. The flu vaccine contains DEAD virus particles. We inject you with pieces of the flu virus so your immune system can “see” it and build antibodies. If you felt bad after the shot, it’s because your immune system was actually responding to dead virus. Imagine what a living virus would do if the shot made you feel bad.

Flu shot myth #2: “I don’t care what you say. It gave me the flu.”

Nope. The flu virus is not Jesus. It cannot rise from the dead. It is also not a Zombie. There is no living dead viruses. Perhaps it was just a cold.

Flu shot myth #3: “But I did! I tested positive for the flu.”

If you truly had the flu after you got the flu shot, then you had already contracted it in the days prior, OR your flu shot had not had time to be effective. It takes 2-4 weeks for your flu shot to be effective, which is why we get you to get it prior to the winter months.

Flu shot myth #4: “I’ve never gotten the flu shot and I’ve never gotten the flu. I’m immune to it.”

No, you have been lucky! There are hundreds of strains of the flu. You are not immune. Just trust me.

Flu shot myth #5: “They aren’t even effective.”

Some years, the vaccine is more effective than others. Last year the vaccine was about 40% effective against combined Flu A and B. Broken down by virus type: 25% against A (H3N2), 65% against A (H1N1) and 49% against influenza B viruses.

So basically, for every 5 people that got the shot, 2 did not get the flu at all. The other 3 that got the shot but wound up with the flu anyways experienced a shorter duration, less severe symptoms, and less hospitalization/death rates than those who were unvaccinated. In fact, historically speaking, as many as 85% of pediatric flu deaths occur in children who were unvaccinated.

Flu shot myth #6: “But I’m allergic to eggs.”This is no longer an issue. You are able to get the flu shot even if you’re allergic to eggs.

Flu shot myth #7: “It contains all those dangerous chemicals.”

If you’re worried about thimersol, they make vaccines that do not include it. However, thimersol has been proven to be safe.

Flu shot myth #8: “I got the flu shot last year. I don’t need it every year.”

The flu vaccines contains different strains each year. The virus changes so rapidly from year to year (genetic drift) that we are constantly having to “update” our vaccine. You know, just like McAfee makes you update your computer’s virus protection.

My next post will focus on the flu itself and how you can keep your family healthy!