Worried about catching the flu this season? There are many things you can do to prevent the spread of
the flu—washing your hands regularly, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine—but one of the best is to make sure you get vaccinated.
Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, addresses some of the pervasive myths surrounding the flu and the flu shot to give you your best shot for dodging the bug this season:
Myth: I got the flu shot and got the flu right away. Fact: The flu shot is not 100 percent effective but it is effective. The vaccine reduces a person’s risk of developing significant symptoms by 60%.
Myth: The flu shot is effective immediately. Fact:
It takes a period of two weeks for the flu shot to take effect.
Myth: Only the elderly and young children are affected by the flu. Fact: The elderly and children younger than two (as well as people with
other underlying medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, cerebral palsy, COPD, diabetes, kidney or liver disease) are at highest risk for flu complications. Those with compromised immune systems are also at especially high risk. But, the flu can
strike anyone. Some of the most serious cases can occur in people who were previously healthy.
Myth: People suffering from the flu should always go to the hospital. Fact: Healthy people should take care
of themselves at home: get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take Tylenol or Advil. Be watchful of other health issues though. If you are suffering from labored breathing or dehydration, you should go to the emergency room.
You should feed a cold and starve a fever. Fact: Maintaining nutrition and staying hydrated is important when you are sick with the flu, so the answer is feed and feed.
Myth: Getting the flu shot once per season
is always adequate. Fact: One flu shot per season is adequate for almost everyone, with the exception of children under nine years old who should get two doses of flu vaccine (separated by four weeks) during the first flu season
they are immunized.
Myth: Flu and cold symptoms are the same. Fact: Flu symptoms include a fever, cough, congestion, chills, fatigue, body aches, and often sore throat and headache. Cold symptoms are fewer in
number, much milder and last just a few days.
Myth: The flu lasts 24 hours. Fact: Children are typically ill 7-10 days but can shed the virus a few days before their symptoms begin and up to 2 weeks after the
start of symptoms. Adults are typically ill 5-7 days but shed the virus 1 day before symptoms begin and usually up to 5 days after the start of symptoms. Some symptoms like fatigue may last for several weeks in kids and adults.
There is no way to protect yourself from the flu. Fact: The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent the flu and to reduce the risk of its complications. Also, thorough and frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with contaminated
surfaces, getting adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration all reduce a person’s flu risks. Being watchful of complications and seeing your doctor if serious symptoms arise (like difficulty breathing and dehydration) reduce your risks of harm. Staying
home when ill with the flu and covering your mouth when coughing also reduces the risks of spread in the community.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated this flu season. Have you had your flu shot?
At one time or another—and maybe even multiple times each year—we’ve all had the symptoms of a cold. But there's no worse time
to suffer the symptoms of a cold than in the summer. The familiar prolonged running nose and sniffling, and the sinus pressure that comes along with it. How do you know if it’s just a common cold or a sinus infection?
Ilana Seligman, MD, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at NorthShore, breaks down the differences between a cold and a sinus infection, and tells us the right time to make an appointment
with a doctor:
There are not perfect steps to follow for cold prevention; instead, it’s best to wash your hands frequently, and avoid sharing cups and toothbrushes. If you already have a cold, there isn’t much a doctor can do because prescribing antibiotics is not recommended.
You can, however, treat the symptoms. Most colds typically last 7-10 days, and common symptoms include:
Treating the Symptoms
A sinus infection is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. Very few colds—only 5-10%—will turn into sinus infections. Common signs your cold is a sinus infection include:
If you experience these symptoms it may be a sinus infection, which means it's time to consult your physician. Common treatment often includes prescribing antibiotics.
Do you know when you have a cold versus a sinus infection? What home remedies to you defer to when you have a cold?
April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers just might bring seasonal allergies. Don’t suffer the sniffles, sneezes, and itchy, watery eyes of seasonal allergies without fighting back. Our springtime infographic
highlights some allergy basics and provides tips to help you combat seasonal allergy symptoms in your home.
Click on our
infographic for more information and useful tips.
Every 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:
Do you make sure to get the flu vaccine every year?
The warmer temperatures of late spring and summer mean more outdoor family time, from BBQs to pool parties, but it’s
important to make sure that time is safe for you and your kids. Most of us know to practice vigilant sun safety during the hottest months of the year, when the sun’s rays are at their most intense, but sometimes we forget it’s also very important to protect
against dangerous insect bites. Warm temperatures are just as appealing to insects as they are to Chicagoans ready to leave a long winter behind.
Most mosquito bites are irritating but otherwise harmless; however, some mosquitoes can transmit encephalitis and West Nile virus, which can cause severe illness with symptoms like headache, high fever and bodily weakness. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease,
which can be treated if recognized early, so look for flu-like symptoms and possible rashes. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint and muscle pain, fatigue, heart problems and neurological issues.
Felissa Kreindler, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares her tips for preventing insect bites and protecting against the illnesses
they can cause all summer long:
How do you protect your family from summer insect bites?
Not all health conditions need to be treated with prescription or over-the-counter medications. In fact, in some cases,
herbal remedies and supplements can help relieve symptoms and improve health.
While there is no “magic” supplement or “quick fix,” it is important to discuss any new treatment method (herbal or not) with your physician. This will ensure that no unwanted side effects or drug interactions will occur. To learn more about herbs and supplements,
Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Director of NorthShore’s Integrative Medicine program, offers the following herbal alternatives:
Do you use herbal remedies to help relieve common health concerns? What works for you?
There’s been more coughing, sneezing and sinus congestion this year than in years past, and it’s no surprise as the flu
season has been off to a strong start since late fall. Hospitals and medical offices across the country have seen an uptick in office visits and confirmed cases. Over the last month, NorthShore has seen a significant spike in hospital admissions of patients
suffering from flu or flu-like symptoms.
Despite the peak in flu cases, there are some things you can do to help reduce your chances of getting infected. Nancy Semerdjian, Chief Nursing Officer at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions to help beat the virus this season:
It isn’t too late to get a flu shot to help mitigate your chances of getting the flu; however, it is important to note that it may take a couple of weeks for the vaccination to take full effect.
What flu remedies do you have? Have you gotten a flu shot this year?
With warm weather comes bugs that bother – whether they bite, sting or carry disease and illness. Although the cases of people
with West Nile virus and Lyme disease have been relatively small, it is better to exercise proper prevention than to suffer the consequences these conditions may bring.
Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine physician, provides the following tips for avoiding insects and treating bites:
What do you do to avoid bug bites in the summer? Have you ever found a tick on your body?
We don’t always have time in our busy lives to go to the doctor or pharmacy for common ailments (such as a cold, flu or upset stomach). In many cases you can help relieve symptoms with herbal remedies and treatment methods at home.
Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, a NorthShore Integrative Medicine physician offers some at-home tips to help cure common illnesses:
What home remedies do you use? Have you ever tried any of these home remedies?