In the news

Influenza vaccine by the numbers

The flu season is here and the first deaths have already been reported in San Diego. Some unsettling news is that there have been twice the usual number of cases here compared to last year.

“The flu vaccine doesn’t always work.” That’s true but it’s clear from studies over several years that if you get influenza in spite of having received the vaccine your illness will be milder, which means that you are less likely to be hospitalized.

Remember! Most deaths are due to secondary bacterial infection, not the virus, and hospitals are incubators for bacteria, some of which are resistant to most antibiotics.

From the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): in a five-year study, vaccination reduced the risk of severe outcomes by 36%; for those over the age of 65 vaccination reduced the risk of admission to the intensive care unit by 28% and reduced the risk for mechanical ventilation by 46%!

“I’m going to wait to get the flu vaccine because it doesn’t last for the whole season.” Although there is a measurable drop-off in effectiveness of the vaccine by the end of the flu season the decline is not worth waiting. You might be one of the early victims. For those over the age of 65 and persons with an underlying condition, especially asthma or heart disease, the wise decision is to get the vaccine in October.


A new series: Avoid the annoyances of aging.

      This is taken from my newest PowerPoint presentation, which has received a very enthusiastic response. So much of what we encounter as we get older is often dismissed as the price we pay for lasting long enough to collect that first Social Security check. Maybe. But some of the conditions in the blogs that follow are symptoms of diseases that can be treated successfully.

There are some things that are inevitable but benign: gray hair, wrinkles, stiff joints and some that will go unmentioned. Sometimes we need a little help from our dermatologist. Some things take a little effort to overcome; some things take lots of effort to overcome. I have identified eighteen of these. It ain’t the Fountain of Youth but you’re bound to find something that will enhance your Golden Years!

  1. Decreased energy. A major reason for feeling pooped much of the time is simply that we have cut back on physical activity – what some people call “exercise.” Put simply, exercise is energizing and there are several reasons for that. Most of us are carrying around more weight than we did in our twenties, largely because we have cut back on physical activity. Seventy-five (the most recent estimate) percent of us are overweight or obese. The average American weighs 29 pounds more than he or she did in 1970. Imagine carrying a 29-pound backpack all day. Of course you’d feel tired much of the time. And if you weigh fifty or sixty pounds more than you did in high school – the current state of nearly forty percent of Americans — the effect is obviously worse.

When we don’t move our muscles vigorously every single day the smallest blood vessels in those muscles lie dormant, meaning that they are are closed, not supplying those muscles with energizing oxygen and nutrients and failing to remove accumulated waste products. Both factors are fatigue-inducing.

The remedy for almost all (!) age-related fatigue is simply to engage in some sort of physical activity most days of the week. I know – that’s easy for me to say. But I can guarantee that within as little as two weeks of about one hour most days of the week of moderately intense physical activity, both aerobic (walking, swimming, etc.) and resistance (exercise machines and weights) activity you are going to feel more energetic and less fatigued.

A couple of caveats: start slowly if you have not been very active. And get some advice from a trainer at the gym if you are going to use weights and machines.

Important! In spite of the above comments, fatigue can be a symptom of underlying disease, especially heart disease, high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes and thyroid disease. It’s a good idea to get a checkup before starting any exercise program.

There are several other reasons why we feel tired a lot and I’ll discuss these in subsequent blog posts.
















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