It is almost time for your flu shot! The flu vaccine is most effective if given in the months of October or November, to protect against winter illness. Our Flu Shot Clinic is scheduled for Friday October 19th, from – . Please call ahead to schedule a time for your shot. We can also give flu shots at any routinely scheduled visit after October 1. There does not appear to be a shortage of flu vaccine in 2007.
The flu vaccine is recommended and safe for all people over 6 months of age. It is particularly important for people over 65, and those with a history of heart or lung disease. Children under two-years old require two half-doses given 30 days apart.
If you have symptoms of the flu (fever, muscle aches, fatigue) it is too late for the flu vaccine. Make an appointment to be evaluated. Antibiotics do not cure the flu, but an antiviral such as Tamiflu® can shorten the course of illness.
The Pneumonia vaccine is often given at this time as well, though it can be given at any time of year. This vaccine prevents infection with strep pneumoniae, which is a common cause of pneumonia. This is recommended for people with chronic lung or heart disease, and all people over age 65. The pneumonia vaccine should be repeated every 5-10 years.
Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?
Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." Maybe you've tried to quit too. Why is quitting and staying quit so hard? The answer is nicotine.
Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It is highly addictive - as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, the body becomes both physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Smokers must overcome both of these addictions to be successful at quitting and staying quit.
When smoke is inhaled, nicotine is carried deep into the lungs, where it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body. Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including your heart and blood vessels, your hormonal system, your metabolism, and your brain. Nicotine can be found in breast milk. During pregnancy, nicotine freely crosses the placenta to affect the fetus.
A smoker will have nicotine by-products present in the body for about 3 to 4 days after stopping. After smoking regularly, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking over time. With tolerance, one has the urge to smoke just to maintain a steady level of nicotine in the blood. In fact, nicotine, when inhaled in cigarette smoke, reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously.
Nicotine is every bit as addictive as cocaine or heroin. When smokers try to cut back or quit, the lack of nicotine leads to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can lead the smoker to crave cigarettes again to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 2 to 3 days later. Withdrawal symptoms may last up to several weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:
Most smokers interpret the nicotine withdrawal symptoms as "stress". Because smoking relieves the "stress" of nicotine withdrawal, most smokers have the false belief that smoking is good for stress relief. Of course, this fix is only temporary, and no life stress is actually solved by smoking. In fact, smokers tend to be much more anxious people than non-smokers.
Quitting smoking is not easy. Nobody quits smoking without some degree of discomfort. Most smokers try to quit several times and relapse before they finally quit for good. However, there are a variety of methods and products that can make quitting easier and more successful.
The most important factor in quitting smoking is your own determination. Nobody ever quits without significant effort and determination. Unfortunately, a nagging wife or husband are not very helpful. The only reason people ever quit is because they make up their mind that it is important for them. Make a list of the pros and cons of smoking for you. Why you smoke? Why do you want to quit? When you realize that this is an important health problem for you, then you will be ready to quit.
The most effective product on the market today to help people quit smoking is called Chantix. Chantix is a prescription pill that binds to nicotine receptors in the brain, tricking the brain into thinking that it is getting nicotine when it is not. Therefore the pleasure of smoking is reduced. The withdrawal symptoms of nicotine are also minimized by using Chantix. Chantix is taken twice-daily, usually for two to three months. It should be started before quitting cigarettes, not after. It is now covered by many insurance plans.
Wellbutrin (also called Zyban) is a prescription pill most commonly used as an antidepressant. However, it also reduces the craving for nicotine and other addictive chemicals. It is not as effective as Chantix, but it is a particularly useful agent for smokers with depression. Like Chantix, this should be started two weeks before quitting.
Several non-prescription products are available which serve to replace nicotine when you give up cigarettes or chewing tobacco. These include the nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine patches. The gum and lozenges are most useful for people who have cut down dramatically, and want to minimize their use of nicotine. They can be used occasionally, just when you get the urge to smoke. The nicotine patch is used continuously, for people who have more constant cravings. All of these products contain nicotine, but are much safer than using tobacco products. They are typically used for two to three months after quitting smoking.
Hypnotism has also proven useful to help people gain the motivation to quit smoking. This is a very safe non-pharmacologic intervention. More than one session may be required to achieve maximum benefit. This is not covered by health insurance.
Health concerns usually top the list of reasons people give for quitting smoking. About half of all smokers who continue to smoke will end up dying from a smoking-related illness. Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer as well, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
Smoking increases the risk of lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These progressive lung diseases - grouped under the term COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) - are usually diagnosed in smokers in their 60s and 70s. COPD causes chronic illness and disability and is eventually fatal.
Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are nonsmokers. And smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles, as well as cerebrovascular disease that can cause strokes.
Smoking also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, bad smelling clothes and hair, and yellow fingernails and hair, yellow fingernails and an increased risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in the elderly.
For women, there are unique risks. Women over 35 who smoke and use birth control pills are in a high-risk group for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots of the legs. Women who smoke are more likely to have a miscarriage or a lower birth-weight baby. Low birth-weight babies are more likely to die or to be impaired.
Based on data collected in the late 1990s, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking. No matter what your age or how long you've smoked, quitting will help you live longer.
Ex-smokers also enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health status, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia.
When Smokers Quit - What Are the Benefits Over Time?
Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by bacterial infection of the spinal canal. Symptoms may resemble the flu but progress rapidly and can cause death within two days. For those that survive, long term effects can include brain damage, seizures, hearing loss or limb amputations.
Meningitis is contagious and is spread through air droplets and direct contact with infected persons. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing items like drinking glasses, lip balm, eating utensils or cigarettes.
Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk of contracting this disease. The reason for this risk may be due to lifestyle factors, such as living in crowded situations (dormitories), going to bars, smoking, and irregular sleep habits.
However, the majority of cases among adolescents are preventable by vaccination. Meningitis vaccination is recommended for the following age groups:
In addition to being vaccinated, young adults can reduce their risk for contracting the disease by not sharing eating utensils, beverages, cigarettes, etc. For medical advice about meningococcal immunization, consult your physician, college health service or local public health department
Getting Ready for School
Walking to the Bus Stop
Waiting at the Bus Stop
Getting On and Off the Bus
Riding the Bus
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Dr. Curran and the staff at Pisgah Family Health are proud to publish the Pisgah Family Health News to our patients. Our goal is to provide regularly updated information about the office and current medical topics. We plan to publish a new issue each quarter with breaking news. The newsletters will also be archived on our website, http://www.pisgahfamilyhealth.com/.
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