Tag Archives: health

Take These 3 Steps To Combat The Flu

The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that we take three actions to combat the flu:

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine
  2. Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
  3. Take antiviral Drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Get vaccinated

CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine, which is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza.

Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. There are data to suggest that even if someone gets sick after vaccination, their illness may be milder.

Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.

People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for high risk people.

Stop the spread of germs

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to avoid infecting them.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Take flu antiviral drugs if they are prescribed

If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.

Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 48 hours of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on the three actions you should take to combat the flu.

Confronting The Myths Surrounding Cervical Cancer

More than 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer each year, and more than half of these cases occur in women who have never been screened or who haven’t been screened in the past five years. Spreading the facts and debunking these and other myths is important. Please help spread the word during January for National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year.

Myth #1: I don’t need to get screened because cervical cancer doesn’t run in my family.

MythBuster: Most cervical cancers are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. HPV is so common that almost every sexually active person will get it at some time in their life if they have not had the HPV vaccine. Although HPV is very common, few men and women will go on to develop cancer. The lack of a family history of cervical cancer is not a predictor of cervical cancer and is not a reason to skip screening.

Myth #2: I don’t need to get screened because I don’t have any symptoms.

MythBuster: A screening test is done to find anything abnormal in otherwise healthy people who are not having any symptoms. When there are symptoms, a diagnostic test is done to find out the cause of the symptoms. Women with abnormal cervical cells aren’t likely to experience any symptoms. But abnormal cells can still be detected by screening. Women should not wait for symptoms to get screened. However, if you have any unexplained bleeding, don’t wait. See a doctor right away to find out why.

Myth #3: I don’t want to get screened because if I have cervical cancer it can’t be treated anyway.

MythBuster: Screening helps prevent cervical cancer. Screening finds abnormal cells on the cervix so they can be treated before they turn into cancer. It also helps find cervical cancer early, when treatment works best. Women who don’t get screened regularly miss the opportunity to detect abnormal cervical tissue early, when treatment is very effective.

Cervical cancer is preventable by screening and treating any abnormal cervical tissue early. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends:

  • Screening with a Papanicoloau (Pap) test every three years for women aged 21 to 65 years.
  • Screening with a Pap and HPV test every five years for women aged 30 to 65 years.

Learn more about cervical cancer and other gynecologic cancers, and get resources to share from DHEC’s Best Chance Network and  CDC’s Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign.

DHEC in the News: Flu

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

14 flu deaths reported in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control says three people in South Carolina died from the flu last week, raising the death toll for this season to 14.

Flu activity on the rise in South Carolina, other southern states

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The flu is now widespread in Alabama — and it’s expected to increase, federal health officials reported.

Alabama is among 19 states reporting high levels of influenza in a recent report to the Centers for Disease Control, Al.com reported.

General interest

US Flu Season Poised to Be Milder Than Last Year’s Harsh One

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s early, but the current flu season is shaping up to be gentler than last winter’s unusually brutal one, U.S. health officials said.

In most parts of the country, most illnesses right now are being caused by a flu strain that leads to fewer hospitalizations and deaths as the kind of flu that dominated a year ago, according to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines also work better against it, said the CDC’s Dr. Alicia Fry.

Sleep Is Important For A Healthy Heart

Not only is getting good, quality sleep important to your energy levels, it’s also important for your health, including your heart health.

Sleep plays a key role in helping your body repair itself. Getting enough good sleep also helps you function normally during the day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following tips on sleep.

How much sleep do I need?

Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. Failing to get enough sleep over time can lead to serious health problems.

What health conditions are linked to a lack of sleep?

Adults who sleep less than seven hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression.

What sleep conditions can hurt my heart health?

Sleep apnea happens when your airway gets blocked repeatedly during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for short amounts of time. Sleep apnea affects how much oxygen your body gets while you sleep and increases the risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Insomnia is trouble falling sleep, staying asleep, or both. As many as one in two adults experiences short-term insomnia at some point, and 1 in 10 may have long-lasting insomnia. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.

What can I do to get better sleep?

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
  • Get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day. Try going for a morning or lunchtime walk.
  • Get enough physical activity during the day. Try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid artificial light, especially within a few hours of bedtime. Use a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone.
  • Don’t eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime, especially alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on getting good sleep.

Protect yourself, others against the flu during National Influenza Vaccination Week

By Linda Bell, M.D.
Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
State Epidemiologist

With the spirit of giving resting upon us during this holiday season, there is no better public gift you can give than providing flu vaccinations for yourself and your family. The annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Although we are already two months into the flu season, it is not too late to get vaccinated. As a matter of fact, with this being National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 2-8) this is a perfect time to get vaccinated.

This is about more than avoiding the flu so you won’t be forced to miss the annual Christmas party. Illness with the flu can cause hospitalization or even death. Each flu

L.Bell headshot

Dr. Linda Bell

season is unique; the timing of the peak activity and how severe a season will be are hard to predict, making it very important to protect yourself against flu as early as possible.

 

Last year’s flu season was one of the worst we’ve seen in recent years, with a high number of deaths and hospitalizations here in South Carolina and across the nation. It is important to get vaccinated now, before any significant spread of the flu virus begins in our community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC recommend that everyone 6 months old and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider, the vaccine is available in many settings. In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. Find the facility that works best for you.

Some people are more likely to get serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia or inflammation of the heart or brain. This includes infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and diabetes. Making sure that you — and those in these vulnerable groups — are vaccinated will provide much needed protection.

There are significant benefits to getting the flu vaccine:

  • It gives your body the ability to fight the flu if you are exposed to someone who is ill.
  • It is effective in protecting against several different strains of the flu that circulate each season.
  • It offers lasting protection against the flu for at least six to eight months.
  • It is the only protection shown to reduce hospitalization and deaths caused by the flu.

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, take other preventive measures, such as avoiding people who are sick and staying home from work, school and other places if you are sick. Also, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Other habits that can help you stay healthy year round include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating nutritious foods.

But we can’t overlook the critical role immunizations play in protecting children, families and communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Whether it’s getting young children vaccinated against diseases such as whooping cough and measles, ensuring teens are protected against conditions such as HPV, or making sure those in your circle get vaccinated against the flu, immunizations help us stay healthy.

So, don’t forget your flu shot. The protection it will provide for you and others around you will be one of the best gifts you will give this holiday season.

For more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you visit www.scdhec.gov/flu.