Most of us have encountered heartburn, that aptly named condition that feels as if your heart is on fire. And many of us automatically turn to so-called “acid neutralizers,” either the older types of antacids (Tums, Rolaids, etc.) or the newer proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
Ninety-one percent of Americans have a cell phone. So when experts talk about cell phone addiction, many people think they may as well be talking about a car addiction, or a refrigerator addiction, or a washing machine addiction. After all, it’s just another appliance that makes our lives easier, right?
Last week’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on this year’s influenza outbreak was not positive: 49 states reporting widespread flu activity for the third week in a row; 37 children dead so far (the CDC does not track adult deaths); the highest level of activity reported since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
The Florida Department of health reports this week that flu activity throughout the state is high and continues to increase.
Your concierge doctors, in Jupiter, Florida, at MD. 2.0 have become concerned about the various flu-related myths that have been spreading like a virus. Here’s a quick quiz on some of the facts and misconceptions many have about the flu.
- You can get the flu from the flu shot
False. You may get the flu even after you receive the shot because: (a) you became infected before you got the shot (it takes about two weeks to take effect); (b) you got a strain of influenza that wasn’t protected against in the shot; (c) the shot wasn’t effective for you. But studies have shown that even if you get the flu after getting the shot, the symptoms will likely be less severe.
- Pregnant women shouldn’t get it
False. The flu shot is not only safe for pregnant women, it may also confer a measure of immunity to the baby for several months after birth.
- If you’ve already had the flu, you don’t need a shot
False. There are several types of flu virus circulating, and you can still catch a type you haven’t already had. In addition, your immune system may be stressed from fighting off the first flu, so you may be more susceptible to attack from other viruses.
- You’re only contagious in the first 48 hours
False. People can catch the flu from you a full day before you are experiencing any symptoms, and for up to a week after your symptoms subside. If you have the flu, stay home and sleep alone. If someone in your home has the flu, change and wash their bedding frequently, and disinfect the phone, remote controls, and other surfaces after they touch them.
- You can catch flu from breathing
True. Yes, it’s important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, to use hand sanitizer when you can’t, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, the portals for the flu virus into your body. But it’s also the case that you can catch it simply from breathing the air from anyone within six feet of you who is sick. That’s why it’s vital that flu sufferers stay home.
- It’s not too late to get the flu shot
True. Since no one can say for sure when this current outbreak will end, you can obtain a measure of immunity within two weeks. Although the typical flu season normally ends by the February-March timeframe, it can last as long as May. The current flu shot is at least 30% effective, and we believe 30% coverage is better than none at all.
- Getting a second shot will boost your immunity.
False. The first shot will stimulate your immune system to fight off the virus. A second shot, which will contain the same strains as the first shot, will do nothing to boost your immunity further.
- The “stomach flu” is not really the flu
True. Except in children, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea-often called “stomach flu”-are not associated with influenza. Symptoms of the flu include: fever over 100.4 degrees; aching muscles; headache; a dry, persistent cough; chills and sweats; fatigue and weakness; and nasal congestion.
- Antibiotics will help once you get sick
False. Antibiotics may be used once you’ve contracted the flu and you experience a secondary bacterial infection such as pneumonia, but they are totally ineffective against a virus. Instead, we will prescribe an antiviral such as Tamiflu to relieve your symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, especially if they seem to be growing worse, see your primary care doctor as soon as you can.
In recent years, researchers and the athletes themselves have revealed that the constant hits suffered by professional football players result in a neurodegenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Further research has shown that CTE has also been detected in other athletes and military veterans who have been exposed to concussive blasts during deployment.
Given all the chemical additives which have appeared in our food over the last several decades, it’s no wonder that so many people have been trying to eat natural foods as often as possible. And unprocessed foods are unarguably healthier overall.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes improving your overall health, one of the best ways you can achieve that is through a healthy diet. But what exactly does “a healthy diet” mean? Too many people think “eating healthy” means dining solely on rabbit food: carrots, lettuce, and a serving of water on the side. This doesn’t have to be the case. Your concierge primary care doctors at MD 2.0 Jupiter in Jupiter, Florida, prefer to call it “sensible eating,” and the payoffs can be enormous.
Take, for example, the DASH diet, which has been making people healthier for 20 years. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—the DASH diet—is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) because of its proven effect on lowering blood pressure in both hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients.
In addition to improving cardiovascular health, the diet has been shown to help prevent cancer, reduce the incidence of diabetes, and improve kidney health. Finally, and not incidentally, one of the “side effects” of the diet is effective short-term and long-term weight loss. For its general effect on health, U.S. News and World Report has ranked the DASH diet the best diet for seven years in a row.
So what are the features of the DASH diet? Rather than strict rules, it provides more in the way of guidelines. These include: eating more fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, fish, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy, and less full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and sweets. Consumption of less salt (sodium) is also encouraged, but not required. However, many of the recommended foods on the plan are naturally low in sodium, so a good deal of salt reduction occurs incidentally.
The impetus for the research came when medical science was focused solely on the effect of salt on high blood pressure. Researchers who designed the DASH diet wanted to look at the way a diet high in nutrients, not just low in sodium, would impact hypertension. The results were gratifying.
The DASH diet is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, nutrients which improve the body’s electrolyte balance, thus relaxing blood vessels as well as promoting excretion of excess fluid, both of which result in lower blood pressure. It emphasizes variety, portion size, and natural foods. And by including a good balance of lean protein, it helps satisfy hunger and maintain energy.
The diet was originally developed in the 1990s as part of a research study designed to see whether blood pressure could be reduced through a dietary approach. The results were remarkable. Subjects were able to reduce their blood pressure significantly in just two weeks, and the less salt that was consumed the lower the blood pressure achievement.
Later studies found that the DASH diet also served to lower total LDL and cholesterol, and reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, even years later.
So, if you’re looking for a diet that will improve your overall health as well as your waistline, you can’t go wrong with the DASH approach. There are myriad books available that provide the specifics, and sample menu plans can easily be found on the Internet. And of course, if you have specific questions about incorporating the DASH approach to healthier living, we can help you tailor the plan’s guidelines to meet your calorie requirements based on your weight, height, gender, age, and activity level.
Given the ubiquitous use of cellphones, it’s not surprising that your concierge primary care doctors in Jupiter, at MD 2.0, should hear frequent questions about the dangers associated with them. These questions naturally increase following such news reports as this week’s warning by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regarding cellphone safety.