It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.
The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.
Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.
Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.
As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.
While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:
- Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
- You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
- Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.
Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.
In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.
In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.
Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.
So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.
We’ve heard it all before – wash your hands often, especially during flu season. But does hand-washing really keep you from getting sick?
The short answer is, yes!
Washing your hands with soap can kill bacteria and viruses that are spread through individuals or objects such as door knobs. When you don’t wash your hands, little actions, such as touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, can put you at risk almost immediately for an illness, providing the germs access to enter your body.
What is interesting to note, however, is that washing your hands with warm water doesn’t kill any more germs than washing with cold water.
In fact, recent studies have shown that the temperature of hand-washing water doesn’t affect the amount of germs being washed away. The only time that a certain water temperature would kill more germs is if the water was boiling (212 ℉), in which case, it would burn and damage your hands.
So what’s the most effective way to wash your hands?
- Wet your hands with water.
- Pump soap to a cupped hand.
- Lather and rub your hands vigorously for about 20 seconds. Be sure to get in between fingers.
- Rinse all soap off of hands.
- Dry your hands well with a towel. Germs can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands.
With falls being the leading cause of injuries in older adults, it’s important to understand how to prevent the common causes.
To help prevent falls at home, consider the following home modification tips:
- Keep rooms free from clutter
- Install handrails, raised toilet seats, grab bars and shower mats
- Light up dark areas of the home
- Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires
- Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor
- Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of
- Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells
In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help in preventing falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that triggers the body’s immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord.
Living with MS can be difficult, especially when some symptoms get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep. Researchers have found that the symptoms of MS, such as stress and muscular stiffness or spasms, can cause lost sleep.
Here are 5 tips to get a better night of rest:
- Create a Bedtime Ritual
Brush your teeth, put on pajamas, read a book or listen to calm music. Creating a bedtime ritual signals the body and mind to slow down.
- Hit The Hay At The Same Time Every Night
Creating a routine helps to set the body’s internal clock.
- Exercise In The Morning
Exercise is a stimulant. If you exercise close to your bedtime, it’ll be harder to fall asleep.
- Drink Less Fluids Around Bedtime
Limit fluids before bedtime to lessen the need to “go.” Also, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol.
- Keep Your Bedroom Cool, Quiet and Dark
Set the tone every night for a comfortable sleep environment.
Contrary to popular belief, immunization is more than getting a shot from the doctor’s office. So, how does the process of immunization affect your immune system?
In your body, there are white blood cells. These cells have the job of protecting your body from viral infections. When necessary, these white blood cells become a giant army to ward off any unwanted viruses or diseases.
Once a virus has been defeated, some types of white blood cells “remember” the virus, and how to defeat it when it enters the body again.
To create vaccines to a certain disease, scientists use dead or weak strains of the disease. The vaccination gives a body’s white blood cells a “taste” of that specific virus, so they know how to fight it off if that virus ever enters the body.
The vaccine itself does not cause the virus, but it can strongly affect your immune system, because it helps the body fight off certain diseases.
Additionally, by getting vaccinations and living in a community where others get vaccinations, it causes “herd immunity.” This means that members of the community who are too young or too weak to receive that vaccine also receive protection from the disease because it’s unlikely to spread through a group of people who have immunity to the infection.
So immunization isn’t just important for you, but also for the people around you!