Flu Season: Protecting Your Family from the Bug

Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

flu seasonEvery flu season is different but there’s one thing you can count on: there will be one.  Flu season in the U.S. can begin as early as October and continue into late May. Perhaps you’ve already noticed an uptick in coughing and sneezing on the train, in the office or at school, but it’s not too late to take action and keep your family happy and healthy throughout flu season. 

Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares some top tips for keeping the flu from catching up with you and the rest of your family this season:

  • Vaccinate! The annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against and prevent the spread of  the flu. Everyone over the age of six months can and should be vaccinated against the flu each year, especially children under five and people over 65 because they are at high risk for serious flu-related complications.
  • Wash your hands. You, but especially your hands, come into contact with millions of germs and bacteria every single day. You can pick them up from surfaces, computer keyboards and the shake of a hand. Regular handwashing is one of the very best ways to avoid spreading illness and getting sick. Washing your hands frequently throughout the day can’t get rid of everything but it prevents the build-up of germs. It only takes a little water, some soap and the ABCs—don’t stop washing until you get to Z.
  • Remember your devices. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs, especially during flu season, is to keep surfaces clean. Countertops and door handles are obvious hotspots but when was the last time you disinfected your phone or tablet? Phones and tablets go everywhere you go, but unlike hands, they aren’t washed after every trip to the bathroom and then they spend the majority of their time near your hands, nose and mouth. Studies show that phones and tablets are likely to carry many of the same contaminants in the same numbers as the door handle of a bathroom.  Wipe down the screens and bodies of your gadgets regularly with a non-alcohol based cleaner. 
  • Be healthy to stay healthy. The key to avoiding illness is stay healthy on a day-to-day basis. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, stay active with exercise, make sure you are managing your stress levels and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet whenever possible. 
  • See your doctor. If you think you were exposed to someone with the flu, anti-viral drugs, which are 70-90% effective, can help prevent you from developing the flu. 
  • And a friendly reminder. You can't get the flu from the flu shot or nasal spray, so vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!

Do you make sure to get the flu vaccine every year? 

How to Make the Most of Your Annual Visit

Friday, September 06, 2013 2:22 PM comments (0)

annual visit“How are you feeling?” is probably one of the first questions your doctor will ask during your annual visit. If you haven’t needed to see your doctor between physicals, your answer will most likely be, “Fine.” It won't be until later that you remember all the miscellaneous symptoms, heath issues, and aches and pains from the last year. 

Don’t miss another opportunity to maximize your time with your doctor. By planning and preparing beforehand, you ensure that you’ll remember to ask the correct questions during the limited time you have with your primary care physician.  

Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, offers some tips on how to make the most of your time with your doctor:

  • Make a list of symptoms. Prepare a list of the aches, pains, symptoms and changes in your health that might have caused concern at some point between your annual visits. Prioritize your list of symptoms so that you can be sure to address those that are the most concerning. You might not be able to go over everything at your annual visit but you’ll be able to touch on everything during future visits. 
  • Have a list of important questions prepared. When pressed for time, questions that were high priority might get lost in the shuffle. Prepare a list of questions you want answered in advance and use it to jog your memory during your appointment.
  • Make another list of prescriptions and medications. Your list should include everything, from prescriptions to vitamins and supplements. You want to ensure you are giving your doctor your full health story. 
  • Come prepared to answer your doctor’s questions. This isn’t your first visit to a doctor, so come prepared to answer the basic topics: family health history, health concerns, etc. This will leave you more time to ask any specific questions you might have. 
  • Dress for the occasion. You might not have much face-to-face time with your doctor, so don’t wear clothing that requires lots of time to get on and off. To save even more time, ask to change into a gown before your doctor enters the room.
  • Write down what your doctor tells you. You’ll probably cover a lot of ground in very little time. Your doctor will write your prescriptions but lifestyle recommendations might be told to you. Write down recommendations your doctor makes so you can remember to follow them in the year between visits. 
  • Ask about a follow-up visit. If there are issues you have not addressed during your annual exam, ask your doctor about a follow-up visit before leaving the office.
  • Review printed materials after your visit. Don’t wait to read the materials your doctor provides, whether they are printed for you or provided through NorthShoreConnect. Are the medications listed correctly? Are your listed health issues up to date? This is where the teamwork between physician and patient can maximize healthcare outcomes.

Do you have a yearly physical? How do you make the most of your annual visit?

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