Friday, October 17, 2014

Going someplace? You may need shots

The big woo at the moment is Ebola--but not that many people will be yearning to go to West Africa, and world travel will continue.

The advice is--book your shots when you book your flight.

You may need to check with your doctor or travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to complete your vaccinations. This according to Caroline Sullivan, DNP, assistant prof at Colunbia Univ School of

First, find out what vaccinations are recommended for your destination. South America--You may want Yellow Fever or Typhoid Fever protection. Travel to part of Africa--rabies or meningitis. The State Dept can provide more info.

Also, be sure you have current routine vaccinations. If you didn't get Tdap--whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria (was DTP), you may want it. If you are over 60, consider the pneumonia shot or shingles shot. Shingles on vacation could be a buzzkill.

You may also want to take along meds for malaria, altitude sickness, and motion sickness--depending on where you are going.

Insect protection is also good.

When you get there, drink only sealed drinks and fruit you peel.

Of course, there is always Disney World for the faint of heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I got a flu shot this year

My pharmacist was a great shot giver--no pain!
Mediciness tend to make me queasy or sick--I think of myself as hypersensitive. Plus, I don't drive. So some years, I have not ended up getting a flu shot, even though I never got sick from one..

Yet--infectious diseases are on the national menu this year. Ebola, D68--yes, the former is only a couple of cases, but if there are more, they will go to ERs and doctors. I want to stay out of those waiting rooms--which for the most part, will be full of flu patients.

One year, I was sick with a paralyzed intestine and everyone else had flu. Flu, flu, flu. The shot in 2012-13 prevented 79,000 hospitalizations--but 381,000 American were hospitalized anyhow. Nasty stuff.

Still, perversely, I hear people say people coming across the border are bringing disease and then in the same breath, they say THEY would never get a flu shot, that the shots CAUSE flu, why their Aunt Jane...etc...all while mad at border crossers for not being vaccinated.

Anyone who does not get the shot is depending on those who do to make enough people less likely to get the flu that they will be protected in the process. It's called "herd immunity"--vaccinating enough people to head of huge outbreaks.

If you are over six months old, you can get it. Most insurance will pay. Older people are advised to get a stronger shot--ask your provider.

Oh--and that provider may be your phamacist--no doctor appt needed.

You are in no danger of getting Ebola, but could get the flu and then pass it on. Think about not doing that. It's not a sure thing. But what is? .

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Painless needle may be coming

One in 10 people may have needlephobia--which can decrease blood donations and vaccinations, not to mention medical testing.

Now, some docs at the Univ of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, have developed a needle that applies pressure and vibration before the "stick," confusing the nerves and making the stick painless.

They tested all kinds of combinations of pressure, vibration, and cooling and warming on 21 adults, using a needle that gave a sticking sensation but did not break the skin.

They are now going to test in children, who experience pain differently and are notorious for needle hating.

When will this Godsend be available--not immediately. There are some other similar devices out there.

Well, bring it on. I notice they ask at the lab--Are you weird about needles?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pamper your "autumn" skin

Joshua L. Fox, MD, founder and medical director of Advanced Dermatology PC, says skin goes through a transformation as summer ends.

First, it's drier outside. And your home and office is heated--making skin even drier. Fox recommends switching moisturizers from a lotion to a cream. Use products with humectants (glycerine, sorbitol urea or alpha-hydroxy) to attract moisture to your skin.

The eight glasses of water thing? You can do it but it won't show up in your skin. Just stay hydrated.

Think about exfoliating--rubbing off the dead skin layer. Maybe even a dermabrasion peel o chemical peel.

Keep up acne treatments--but switch to a heavier, oil-free moisturizer.

Cold winds can irritate roseacea. Avoid really hot beverages.

If you have those bumps on the backs of upper arms and thighs--called keratosis pilaris--exfoliate gently and bump up the moisturizer.

Allergies can also bring on rashes in the fall. If you are allergic to pollen, wash face and hands when you come inside---and keep windows closed from 10 am to 4 pm.

Just writing this is making me itch.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More than just scary faces

Pumpkins have many aesthetic, artistic, and culinary uses--besides Jack-o-Lanterns, you have your lattes, donuts, cookies, and of course, pies. Oct 21 in National Pumplin Cheescake Day. Your course is clear.

But, of course, you should not get too excited--the food police are all over the orange gourd.

Suzy Weems, PhD, professor of nutrition sciences at Baylor, says yes, pumpkins contain fiber, a good thing.

Also, they harbor zeaxanthin, a weapon against age-related macular degeneration.

Want some phytosterols for your heart--pumpkin seeds.

Magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, protein,zinc, and iron? Pumpkin.

But what about pumpkin candy? It's still candy, Weems says sternly.

The pie? Make sure it has a lot of pumpkin and is not just flavored with it.

Pumpkin in coffee or for breakfast? The latte is calorie-ridden. The doughnuts still have sugar.

Aw--have a piece of pie. You will survive.