Medicine From The Trenches

Experiences from undergradute, graduate school, medical school, residency and beyond.

Flu to You too!

2018-01-06 12.58.52-1

This year’s flu season is in full swing! Here in the Midwest where I live, there have been deaths from this strain of influenza, affecting people who are younger and apparently healthy before acquiring the virus. Along with this deadly strain comes the news media reports that the flu vaccine isn’t as effective as in previous years; related to me by my patients who complain that the vaccine “makes them sick” or that they don’t want to get the immunization.

My reply is that while the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it does make any bouts with the flu, milder. I also remind them that along with the flu vaccine, good hand-washing is paramount. Wash hands often, don’t touch face and try to avoid those who are already sick with viral upper respiratory infections. Smokers are at increased risk for having a rough time this year because conventional cigarette/pipe/cigar smoke defeats the cilia in one’s respiratory tract allowing increased susceptibility to pathogens. In short, if you have folks who are smokers, this is a good time to either quit or move to nicotine patches, e-cigarettes/vapers or other smoking cessation-devices.

Grumbling that one does not want to be forced to receive the flu immunization or that one is going the “die from something” isn’t sound thinking for long-term health preservation in order to continue risky behavior. Along with getting proper rest, proper exercise and stress-reduction, one needs to eat properly. “I don’t have time to breathe, let alone work out”, is not going to help keep one healthy during these times when most of us are surrounded by patient’s suffering from viral illnesses.

My final thoughts center around those who become ill. Please stay home, get some rest and don’t bring your viral illnesses to the hospital/clinic/school for sharing with others. Keep your children home even if you must stay with them. Rest and self-care are more important than ever with this year’s influenza strain. H3N2, the predominant strain (it’s a strain of Influenza A) is not trivial. I would rather err on the side of caution and care than put more at risk. This is not the time to “soldier through” or “tough it out” because many who consider themselves young and invincible are ending up with serious complications.

Your first step in taking good care of your patients is to take good care of yourself in this new year. Don’t start 2018 off  by adding to the patient population because you want to be a trooper. Yes, I have excused any of my students or trainees who have picked up the flu! Get that flu shot too!

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13 January, 2018 - Posted by | medical school, medicine |

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