Archive for February, 2014

Why get the flu shot?

Flu season is now in full swing, and it’s turning out to be a bad one, especially in the South, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet more than half of Americans said that they planned to skip the flu shot this year, according to a nationally representative survey of 1,595 adults conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The good news is that it is not too late to be vaccinated, since infections tend to peak by March. But don’t dawdle: It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to work, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better.

Here are five common excuses people in our survey gave us for skipping the vaccination last flu season—along with our doses of reality.

Excuse: I am worried about side effects or getting flu from the vaccine (33 percent)

Reality: Side effects are uncommon and usually mild. They include soreness or redness at the injection site, body aches, and a low fever lasting a day or two, according to the CDC. Vaccination cannot cause flu illness.

Excuse: I do not get the flu (24 percent)

Reality: Just because you haven’t had the flu in the past does not mean you won’t get it. The CDC estimates that the flu caused 31.8 million illnesses in the U.S. last year, and it recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Excuse: I believe in building my natural immunity (24 percent)

Reality: The body’s immunity against the flu declines over time, and the flu virus is capable of changing from year to year. Whatever protection you picked up in the past may not fight flu strains circulating now. Hence the need for annual vaccination.

Excuse: The vaccine is ineffective (20 percent)

Reality: During the 2012-13 flu season, vaccination saved millions of Americans from getting sick and 79,000 from being hospitalized, says the CDC. If you get vaccinated and still come down with the flu, you will probably have a milder case and less chance of serious complications.

Excuse: I do not like getting shots (16 percent)

Reality: Lying down for the shot may help you relax. If necessary, ask your doctor if you qualify for the nasal-spray vaccine.

Consumer Reports Health


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Don’t Fall this Winter!

The risk of falling and breaking a bone increases in the winter, not just falling outdoors, but indoors too!  Research has shown that less sunlight and activity can make you less steady on your feet.

Luckily, we’ve got a list of MUST HAVE products that will help avoid a dangerous fall…


1. Snow tires for your feet

Devices like cleats or chains that attach to your shoes provide extra traction on snow and ice. Consider clamp-on cleats for canes and walkers that can be removed when not needed. Even inside, just wearing shoes can help. One recent study shows that people wearing shoes indoors are less likely to fall than those who are barefoot or wearing socks. If you do walk in houseshoes or socks, make sure they havenonslip soles.

2. Grab bars in the tub and shower

It’s best to have two: one vertical bar where you step into the tub or shower and another sloping up toward the showerhead or horizontal. Have a professional install the bars so that they’re securely anchored to the wall; temporary grips that attach with suction might not support your weight.

3. Smart lighting

Install ceiling fixtures or lamps that can be turned on by a switch at the entrance to a room as well as lighted switches at both the top and bottom of stairs. Use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. If possible, install lights outside, too, especially on steps. Also take steps to reduce glare: hang sheers or blinds on exposed windows and cover lightbulbs with shades large enough to shield your eyes from the bulbs when you are sitting.

4. Safe floors

Wall-to-wall carpeting with a thin pad is the safest underfoot. Use matte, no-shine finishes for hard floors; waxy finishes are slippery. Remove area and throw rugs or secure them to the floor using double-sided tape that goes all the way to the edges.

5. Single-vision eyeglasses

Some people find that bifocals or trifocals upset their balance, leading to tumbles. If that’s you, consider reserving them for reading or computer work. If you need to wear prescription glasses, single-vision is your best bet for most daily activities.

This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin). The aricle was adapted from Consumer Reports On Health newsletter.

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February is HEART HEALTH Month!

February is Heart Health and awareness month.  Here’s a few tips for keeping your heart healthy and strong:

  • Get active –  Regular physical activity has many benefits such as helping you quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase HDL cholesterol
  • Manage Stress –  It’s important to learn how to recognize how stress affects you, learn how to deal with it, and develop healthy habits to ease your stress. Stress is your body’s response to change. The body reacts to it by releasing adrenaline (a hormone) that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up, and your blood pressure to rise. Constant or continuous stress can be harmful to your heart health. The good news is you can actively manage your stress before it becomes a problem.
  • Eat Healthy – Do you really know what it means to eat healthy? The AHA recently developed new dietary guidelines to help us better understand how to eat healthy and help lower our heart disease risk.

    What to Do: According to the new AHA guidelines, eating right means:

    • Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish and nuts
    • Avoid red meat, as well as sugary and processed foods
    • Avoid foods high in sodium

    Content provided by: The American Heart Association/Go Red for Women 

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