Flu – Not to be Taken Lightly – It’s NOT too late

Flu vaccine CDC
Flu vaccine – it is not too late!

People are dying from the flu! Now, this week!

Do you get an annual flu vaccine?

If yes, does that mean you will not get the flu?

If you do not get a flu vaccine, why not?

Let’s review some common responses to these questions…and the truth based on evidence.

There are several varieties of flu vaccine available. A lot of research in recent years is responsible. Remember within the last 10 years when there was a shortage? Not everyone could even get the vaccine. Then, in 2009, a new strain called H1N1, or ‘swine flu’ emerged making many people very sick. Since all of that, these new options protect against H1N1. They cover more specific strains expected to be active this year. Some are now safe for people with egg allergies. Some are specific for people over age 65.

When you get the vaccine, it is NOT LIVE VIRUS that is injected. It is virus that has been grown then ‘killed’ before injection. Most are placed, via needle, in your upper arm muscle just below your shoulder (deltoid muscle). The injected substance then prompts your immune system to develop antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are the parts of your immune system that fight infections. The antibodies will be specific to the strains of virus in the vaccine.

Some flu vaccines cover three strains of flu while others cover four. The strains selected for the vaccine are the most dangerous. There are other milder strains of the flu not covered by the vaccine. So, you can still get the flu, but not the most deadly types.

The type of flu vaccine that is specific for people over age 65 is a bit stronger. In our 60’s and beyond our immune system often isn’t quite as active. So, the stronger vaccine will provide better protection.

There is also a live version of the flu strains that is given in the nose. This is an option for people who really, really hate needles. Note, people with cancer, compromised immune systems, and some other conditions cannot receive the live version. Please check with your doctor or person providing immunizations.

Who should NOT get the flu vaccine?

There are very few people in this category. For people with egg allergies, there is now a type of flu vaccine that does not contain egg. If you had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past, be sure to talk with your doctor before deciding whether to get one. With several varieties of vaccine available, there might be a version that does not contain the substance to which you are allergic. If you have or have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, talk with your doctor. There is not currently a vaccine approved for children under 6 months of age. Otherwise, you should be seeking your flu vaccine!

The people who are DYING from the flu usually get the flu then get pneumonia while they are sick. Flu deaths tend to occur most often later in the flu season (so now!). Those who die are usually over age 75 or they have other medical conditions involved. Then there are those who no one would have expected.

Don’t let the flu catch you by surprise. It is NOT TOO LATE to get your flu vaccine!

For more information about flu vaccines, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Flu vaccines can protect our physical health. What protects our spiritual health?

The armor of God is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

And all through the Psalms you will find cries for protection and rejoicing for the protection offered!

Psalm 5:11 CEV

“Let all who run to you for protection always sing joyful songs.

Provide shelter for those who truly love you and let them rejoice.”

Psalm 34:8 CEV

“Discover for yourself that the LORD is kind.

Come to him for protection, and you will be glad.”

Psalm 118:8 CEV

“It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else,”

I feel so assured when I read these verses! These are good ones to memorize or carry in your wallet for reference at frightening times.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Four Components of True Health – Physical Health

ThinkstockPhotos-464212219
Physical health – one of four essential components of health

Physical health is the first of the four components of health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the next three weeks we will talk about each separately.

Physical health is the type that is usually thought of first when describing ‘health’. It relates to medical conditions, joint and muscle function, infections, bones, and organ systems. It is the primary reason we go to the doctor.

The main emphasis of health insurance has historically been physical health.

Most of the medications that are prescribed are for physical health. Medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, asthma, etc. are prescribed to improve physical health.

Your physical health is often part of your decision-making. It is the main motivation to choose healthy foods, exercise, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol.

So what can you do to improve your physical health?

First, there are several things you can do to preserve your physical health. Prevention is key. To prevent heart disease and diabetes, diet and exercise are especially important. They help maintain a healthy weight. Lack of exercise and poor food choices lead to excess weight, which adds to risk for many medical conditions.

Avoid smoking. Quit if you smoke now. The negative effects on physical health are enormous.

Limit alcohol intake. An occasional drink is probably fine unless you are genetically at risk for alcoholism. Excess alcohol has many health risks.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, be sure to ask plenty of questions to fully understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Then, follow your treatment plan while keeping track of your response. Communicate your response and any medication side effects to your healthcare team.

If you have more than one medical condition and/or if you have more than one provider, keep everyone informed. You want healthcare providers who communicate with each other and take time to communicate with you. Each provider needs to know exactly what the others are doing.  Each also needs to know how you actually take each of your medications. It is only then that the safety of all your medications together can be assessed.

For more information about your physical health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We learn in Genesis we were made in God’s image. Each cell, each hair, each component is specially designed. If you’ve ever experienced the birth of a baby and watched it grow, you have seen the astounding complexities of the human body.

Physical health allows us to perform our daily tasks. It also allows us to pursue the plans to which God has called us. There are several verses throughout the Bible that pertain to health. Here are a few:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Timothy 4:8 ESV

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

3 John 1:2 ESV

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

Consider the steps to maintain your health and the role your health plays in your response to God’s call for your life.

Blessings,

Michelle

Flu Shots – Do I REALLY need one?

Most of us grew up Flu vaccine CDCbefore influenza (flu) shots were recommended for nearly everyone. We lived a lot of years just fine without them. Sure, we got sick for about a week sometimes, but we lived through it and got right back on track with our daily lives.

So why make such a big deal now about flu shots?

We are in the last week or so before flu cases start presenting here in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every season.”

In 2013-14 less than half of eligible people in the country obtained a flu vaccine. For those who were vaccinated, there were 7.2 million fewer people sick with the flu, 3.1 million fewer doctor/clinic visits for flu, and over 90,000 fewer hospitalizations. In particular, there were 55% fewer hospitalizations in people over age 65.

This year (2015-16) the strains of flu covered in the vaccine are even better matched to the dangerous strains expected to cause illness this year. So, this year’s effectiveness will be better than 2014-15.

There are some common beliefs about flu vaccines that are NOT TRUE. Two key myths are:

  • The flu vaccine will make me get the flu
  • The flu vaccine causes problems like autism

The TRUTH is:

  • The flu vaccine is not a live form of the flu virus. It is a killed version that will stimulate your immune system to build resistance against the flu.
  • Many studies have been done that consistently show vaccines are not the cause of the rising number of children with autism. (Unfortunately the real cause(s) have not been found).

You have some options when getting your flu vaccine.

  • Regular vaccine in to your upper arm muscle.
  • High dose vaccine in to your upper arm muscle (approved for people at or over age 65).

Note, there is a live attenuated nasal vaccine. This is for people ages 2-49. There are several reasons why people may not be able to take the nasal vaccine, however, so please talk with us at Meds MASH and/or talk with your doctor about whether this option is good for you.

Be sure to let your doctor and whoever gives your vaccine if you are allergic to EGGS. Note, this is not a reason to avoid vaccination. There is a vaccine you can get. You will be watched more closely for a few minutes after your vaccine.

For more information about flu vaccines, please contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

The flu vaccine can protect us against a week of feeling miserable (and maybe even more dangerous illness).

What protects us from the other miseries of the world?

The Psalms contain many promises about God’s protection for his people.

Psalm 34:7 ESV

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalm 17:8 ESV

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Psalm 18:2 ESV

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 46:1 ESV

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 125:2 ESV

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.

My Refuge and My Fortress Psalm 91  – check out this Psalm

You are not alone! Your deliverer and protector loves you dearly.

Blessings,

Michelle

Photo credit: Public Health Image Library cdc.gov

Triggers – Asthma and COPD

inhaler imageThere are so many things that can bring on an asthma attack making it hard to breath. Some examples are:

  • Perfume
  • Smoke
  • Dust
  • Weeds
  • Pollen
  • Foods
  • Pets
  • Exercise
  • Cool, damp air

People with asthma can go from feeling fine to struggling for breath in just a few minutes.

The same thing can happen to some people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis). Not all people with COPD have an asthma-like component, but some do.

There are medications that can help PREVENT these sudden attacks.   There are also medications that can reopen the airways to TREAT these attacks.

The medications used most often are given by inhalers. This allows the medication to go to the lungs where it is needed without having such a big impact on the rest of the body. This cuts down on side effects.

If you are prescribed inhalers, it is important to take them regularly and as prescribed, especially the ones taken one to times per day.   They are intended to PREVENT these attacks. They will not be helpful if only taken once in awhile during attacks. They need to be taken every single day.

The ones you take as needed should be taken with careful technique. They won’t work if they aren’t used properly. This is harder than it sounds. Be sure your doctor or your pharmacist has shown you step by step how to use your inhalers. Then, show them how you use them to be sure your technique is correct.

One more thing, be sure to always rinse out your mouth and spit out the water after using a steroid inhaler. These inhalers are very effective at preventing attacks, but they can also make it easy to get an infection in your mouth that is painful. Rinsing your mouth after EACH use cuts way down on the risk of this mouth infection.

Inhalers save lives. But they must be taken at the right times and with the right technique.

For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Not only are there triggers for asthma attacks, we often have triggers that get us off track on our day and in our spiritual walk. These can be things that distract us, things that confuse us, and often things that make us angry.

What are those topics that you feel so strongly about you just have to chime in to conversations about them? Maybe you can ignore some things and let them slide on by. But, what are the things that you just have to participate in the discussion?

What are the things that make you really angry? What are your hot button triggers that send you into a rage?

We all have them. It’s the way we are ‘wired’. Just as there are medications that can prevent the sudden reaction to asthma triggers, there are steps we can take to reduce our reaction to our life triggers.

First, throughout the Bible we are reminded that anger should be contained.

Ephesians 4:26-27

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

James 1:19-20 ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Proverbs 29:11 ESV

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Proverbs 19:11 ESV

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 ESV

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

There are at least 60 verses in the Bible dealing with anger management. James sums up the instruction well:

James 4:1-2 NIV

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

Take time to consider and identify your triggers. Again, we all have them. Then, take them to God to help you avoid them or handle them with grace rather than anger.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image credit: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Timing Is Everything – STROKE

Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA), also known as stroke, usually comes on quickly without warning. We should all know the warning signs.

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?


S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Take immediate action. When you get to the hospital, a brain CT scan will be done. This is to determine if there is a stroke. It will also determine if it is a stroke from a clot or from a bleed (ruptured vessel in the brain). With quick treatment, stroke damage can be reversed or never happen. However if the timing is delayed, stroke damage can be permanent and debilitating and alter a life forever.

It is better to be evaluated and be fine than to delay stroke treatment. If you take quick action, and stroke is caught early, the clot can be removed or the bleeding stopped.

Strokes can happen at any age. 1/3 are under age 65.

Nearly 800,000 people in the US have a stroke each year.

1 in every 20 deaths is due to stroke.

Your risks are higher if you have –

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of stroke

or if you smoke.

If you ever have these symptoms for a few minutes, then they go away, still call 911. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage of a brain blood vessel. It is a huge warning sign that you are at risk for a full stroke. Never ignore these!

If you would like to be assessed for you personal stroke risks contact www.medsmash.com.

Biblical Application

The same is true so many of our actions. God’s timing is impeccable. Sometimes God says ‘Go’ and you should go quickly and not hesitate. Other times God says wait.  Waiting can be hard, but throughout the Bible we are encouraged to wait.

Habakkuk 2:3 ESV

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Isaiah 40:31 ESV 

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 27:14 ESV 

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Ecclesiastes 8:6ESV  

For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Know your stroke warning signs, and act immediately!  Listen for God’s leading in all aspects of life.  His timing is perfect!

Blessings,

MIchelle Fritsch