Experts Say Now Is The Time To Be Vaccinated Against The Flu

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine…..

temperturefaceWhile it can be difficult to predict some aspects of the flu season – such as which strain will be dominant or how intense this year’s flu season will be – the thing doctors know for certain is that the flu season will be here during the fall and winter months. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine’s Influenza Research Center gives advice on how to prepare.

“In an average year, we expect to see influenza activity in late November or early December, for it to peak in January or February and for it to finally leave sometime in April or even May,” said Dr. Pedro A. Piedra, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and pediatrics at Baylor.

Each year, there is the option to take the live attenuated vaccine, which is in the form of a nasal spray, or the inactivated vaccine, which is the flu shot. This year, the live vaccine will have two A strains and two B strains, making it a quadrivalent vaccine. For the flu shot, there will be the option to get a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine.

According to Piedra, this year’s trivalent vaccine has been redesigned, with two out of three vaccine strains from previous vaccines replaced with new strains. The one that will remain the same is the pandemic H1N1, or the A/California strain. The H3N2 component will change to a strain called A/Switzerland, which was prevalent last flu season and was one of the H3N2 strains that caused the mismatch between what was circulating and what was in the vaccine for last year. The B strain will be replaced with the B/Phuket. The quadrivalent vaccine has two B strains from different lineages, the second B component being the B/Brisbane, which is not a new strain.

“When you go to your healthcare provider this year, you may have the opportunity to have a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccination. I would say in general, if the quadrivalent formulation is available, that probably would be the better option because it’s going to ensure that you have coverage against any of influenza B lineages that may circulate,” said Piedra. “If you only have the option of the trivalent vaccine, I would still strongly recommend getting the vaccine.”

Most of the vaccines are slowly transitioning into a quadrivalent vaccine, but both will be available this year.

Who should be vaccinated

In the United States, it’s recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated.

“We truly believe that universal immunization is the best way to protect everybody against flu,” said Piedra. “Although you have risk groups who are more likely to get severe disease, you have other groups like school-aged children who are more likely to get infected and spread it to others in the community. An outbreak needs individuals who are susceptible to the infection; one way to minimize those who are susceptible to the infection is to protect them with a vaccine. The more people who are protected against what’s circulating, the less likely that an influenza season will be able to take hold or cause complications.”

He notes that vaccination provides direct benefit to those who are vaccinated and starts to provide indirect benefits to those who are not vaccinated but are vulnerable.

Who should get which vaccine

“We have many approved inactivated and live influenza vaccines that target different age groups,” said Piedra.

The live vaccine, or the nasal spray, is approved for healthy individuals between 2 and 49 years of age. The inactivated vaccine, or the flu shot, is approved for individuals 6 months of age and older.

There is now a high-dose influenza vaccine for adults 65 years and older because it produces a better immune response in this age group, which generally translates into better protection. Older adults don’t respond like healthy adults to the vaccine, so this high-dose vaccine contains four times the concentration as the regular influenza vaccine.

All family members that older adults surround themselves with should be vaccinated against flu because that is the best way for them to be protected.

It is recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated during any trimester. They must receive the inactivated vaccine, or the flu shot.

“When the mother is vaccinated she will transfer the antibodies through the placenta to her infant, who thereby will be passively protected during the first six months of life. This will reduce the risk of hospitalization in those first six months, which is substantially high,” said Piedra.

Anyone in the healthcare environment should be protected against flu to reduce the risk of spreading it to others who would be very susceptible in a high-risk setting like a hospital.

Exceptions

If you have a significant allergic illness to one of the vaccine components, such as eggs, you would not want to receive an egg-based influenza vaccine, but you could still receive a cell-based influenza vaccine.

Individuals with Guillain-Barre Syndrome should speak with their physicians to weigh the risk versus the benefit of getting the influenza vaccine.

Piedra said not to wait until the flu is here to get vaccinated because it reduces the time that that the vaccine can provide protection during the flu season. The vaccine takes about one to two weeks to give full protection against the virus.

Infants and young children 8 years and younger who have never been previously vaccinated will need a second dose four weeks after the first dose.

Those experiencing flu-like symptoms should consult with their physician to get the appropriate medications to treat the infection.

“These anti-influenza drugs have to be started early in the illness for best benefit,” said Piedra.

Start Planning Now for Long-Term Care

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your thoughts below…..

seniorcoupleexercisesmallIt’s important to plan now for long-term care that may be needed later in life. Types of long-term care include private-duty care at home, adult day care centers, assisted living, and nursing homes.

Most people in the United States will need at least three years of long-term nursing or other care after age 65. But less than half of people in their 40s and beyond are saving for it or even talking about it, reports the May 2015 Harvard Health Letter.

By not planning, people risk two problems. One is losing control over the care they’ll receive. “Many people push it off to their families,” says Dr. David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “But family members may make decisions that are very different from the ones the individual would make.”

The other problem is that people may not have money to pay for long-term care if they don’t plan for it. That lack of funding often forces loved ones to provide care. Families are actually the biggest providers of long-term care in the country. But when a person’s need for care exceeds what a family can provide, care often falls to an institutional setting. “If the finances aren’t in place to pay for that, the risk is ending up in a low-quality setting,” says Dr. Grabowski.

Several types of long-term care are available. Some allow people to live at home, being cared for by a family member or by certified aides. There’s also adult day care. Options outside the home include assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Paying for long-term care is limited to a few options, including private pay (full price from one’s own pocket), long-term care insurance, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits. Obtaining some of these benefits can be complicated and time-consuming.

Read the full-length article: “The dollars and sense of long-term care”

Also in the May 2015 Harvard Health Letter:

* Pill-free ways to lower blood pressure

* Simple tips to sit less and move more

* The latest concerns about diet sodas

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/health or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

5 Foods You Should Stop Feeding Your Kids Now

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By Leanne Thompson

healthychoiceIf you’re reading this then you must be a responsible parent—or at least, trying to be one.
You deserve a pat on the back.

But you’ve got to admit, you’re a much better parent before you had kids. Back then, you were pretty sure of what you will and will not become. You’ll be a “cool” parent. You promised yourself you will not become the kind of parent who forces her kids to eat their broccoli or drink their milk.

They want fries? They get fries.

While fulfilling your dream of becoming a cool parent sounds fun, you may want to play the “responsible parent” while you’re at it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and are more likely to develop serious health problems such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes at a younger age.

Bottom line: playing the “cool” parent all the time may cause your kids to fall into the trap of a high calorie diet with low nutritional value—one of the factors that contribute to childhood obesity.

If you’re guilty of helping yourself to some of your kid’s favorite “bad” foods then it’s time for your diet to grow up!

Here is a list of foods you should never let your kids eat:

1. Breakfast cereals

Put down that box!

No matter how adorable their colors and shapes are, breakfast cereals are no-nos. They may be “breakfast champions” for people who are always on the run, but not for your kids. Breakfast cereals are often laden with sugar—hello, calories and tooth decay! You may see some cereal boxes that boast whole grain goodness but the amount of added sugar that comes with the package is a serious deal breaker.

2. Fruit Juice Drinks (In a Box)

Fresh fruit juice—the liquid that comes from a real fruit, can be healthy when consumed in moderation. Fruits are chock-full of nutrients and as an added bonus they are “naturally” sweet. Fruit juice drinks, on the other hand, contain juice, water, sweeteners and perhaps other flavorings to make it taste natural. Here’s the thing: they are not natural.

But it says “No added sugar”

Did you check the list of ingredients? Most bottled beverages that promise calorie-free sweetness contain artificial sweeteners—some of the FDA-approved ones include aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharin. According to The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, while these artificial sweeteners got FDA’s thumbs up, they might still be a problem because they may encourage bad eating habits (especially among children) by promoting a craving for sweetness.

pizza3. Pizza

Why is pizza not good for you again?

Oh, right! Because it’s high in saturated fat and sodium.

However, the love for this food is so intense that the Department of Agriculture released a report on its consumption. According to the report, pizza contributes about 6% of the total energy intake of children, 2 to 19 years old, and 4% for adults.

Experts would argue that pizza is not as bad for your health as you think it is. If fact, according to the report, it represents more than half of the total daily intake of lycopene, a potent antioxidant. The problem lies on when and how you eat it—hello, pizza abuse. According to Guiseppe Russolillo, president of the Spanish Association of Nutritionists, pizza is an artisanal product in majority of Italy. In US it’s more related to ‘junk food’ as it is often bought from a fast food chain or frozen at supermarkets.

Russolillo pointed that pizza shouldn’t be consumed more than 2 or 3 times a month and shouldn’t be part of your daily diet, even less for children. A healthy diet, one that contains a variety of fruits and vegetables, is needed to support the nutrient demands during the period of growing development in children. No, adding extra vegetable toppings won’t do. Stop drooling over that pizza and set a good example!

4. French Fries

You knew this was coming.

Stop feeding your kids French fries, now.

Forget the “cool” parent act and know this: the deep-fried potato strips we all love are by nature high in calories and fat. Of course you already know that! But you’re still in a state of denial. Well, it has to stop. We all know that nutritionists and other health experts are not exactly fond of fries because they are high in sodium and oozing with artery-clogging fat. Here’s another shocker: it can cause cancer.

When a starchy food such as potato is cooked at a temperature above 248 degrees, it produces a chemical called acrylamide. According to National Cancer Institute, studies in rodent models have found that exposure to this chemical poses a risk for several types of cancer. Although evidence from human studies is incomplete, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, considers acrylamide to be a “probable human carcinogen”.

girldonut5. Doughnuts

Fluffy doughnuts that taste a little like heaven have to go too—yep, even the ones that come in fun size.

It’s hardly news that doughnuts are not really the best candidates for a healthy breakfast. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eating a healthy breakfast versus one that includes soda or doughnuts can help your child get more nutrients and perform better at school.

Doughnuts are most often than not laden with sugar and trans fat. We all know that sugar is not really BFFs with your kid’s teeth or weight. And sugar combined with trans fat? The worst!

Trans fats raise levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of the heart-healthy one (HDL). High-fat intake has been linked to coronary heart disease, in which plaques build up in the arteries, sometimes leading to a heart attack. Store-bought doughnuts contain up to 40% trans fat and about 200 to 300 calories mostly coming from sugar—yikes!

Sources:

Childhood overweight and obesity
http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/

Added sweeteners
http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Added-sweeteners.shtml

The people who eat pizza every day
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-26255931

Acrylamide in Food and Cancer Risk
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/acrylamide-in-food

5 reasons for your teen to eat breakfast
http://www.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442477998

– Leanne Thompson is a writer and a blogger who has contributed to some of the most well-known Health, Fitness and Nutrition blogs. After struggling with her weight in her teenage years, Leanna was driven to undertake a Bachelors of Nutrition degree with the renowned Iowa State University to study the needs of a human body. Ever since, she has made it her life goal to spread awareness about the importance of healthy weight loss and the wellbeing of the people she meets – Find out more at: leanneknows.com

Children Then & Now

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From Your Health Journal…..”I found such a great article today online from ‘Wicked Local – Norton’ by Harry Chase, that I had to promote and share it here. I hope all of you visit the Wicked Local web site (link provided below) to read the complete story. Mr. Chase starts the article by discussing a change he has noticed over the years, where children do not walk to school anymore, rather – many are taking the bus or in the family car. Mr. Chase reminisces on how he used to walk miles to school every day, how nobody took a bus. Mr. Chase continues to discuss the amount of homework kids get these days – which reduces the play time outside. He points out how childhood obesity is on the rise, and many children suffer from heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, weak bones, and low self-esteem. This article brought a smile to my face, as I found it very refreshing. I provided a short snip below, but please visit the Wicked Local site to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

The most obvious difference between schoolchildren in the present iPhone age and in the Neanderthal era when I attended classes is that I almost never see today’s kids walking to school.

As early as 6:45 a.m., while I’m doing my daily exercises, I see from my bedroom window the school buses rolling past, accumulating long lines of vehicles behind them as they stop every 200 yards to pick up pupils.

Some parents turn up their noses at buses and add to the traffic by chauffeuring their youngsters to school in the family car.

In my boyhood, when Mansfield had 10 schoolhouses and no buses, every child lived within 11/2-mile walking distance of an elementary school. Multiply that mileage by four, because we came home for dinner (as lunch was called).

Beginning at age 5, when I entered first grade, I hiked 20 miles weekly to and from Roland Green School on Dean Street. By second grade I ran it. I think this exercise has worked in my favor all the rest of my life.

It’s true that many if not most kids today don’t live within walking distance of their schools. And without question, buses are better than the old inefficient one-room one-teacher neighborhood schoolhouses.

Yet does anyone ever think that maybe – just maybe — the rate of childhood obesity, which in the U.S. has more than tripled in the last 30 years, might somehow be related to the fact that children no longer walk (or run) to school?

Another difference between school kids then and now is that these days even small fry await their buses loaded like Grand Canyon pack mules with knapsacks almost as big as themselves. I assume the packs carry homework. We had no homework until seventh grade and that usually consisted of one or two books easily toted in the hand.

To read the full article…..Click here