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Prevention: Your Family’s Best Protection

When it comes to preventing winter illness, the same tried-and-true methods that have been recommended for years are still considered the best line of defense, according to Starling Reid, M.D., internal medicine physician at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.

The following are Dr. Reid’s recommendations for cold and flu prevention:

• Avoid large crowds if possible. Because of the colder weather, people tend to stay indoors and within closer proximity to each other, which leads to the spread of disease. Babies under the age of 6 months, especially premature infants, should have limited exposure to crowds.

• Wash your hands. Use warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds for a thorough cleaning. Children should be reminded to wash their hands before and after meals and after playing or using the restroom.

• Get vaccinated. According to Reid, many people believe that getting a flu vaccination can transmit the illness. This simply is not true.

“It is not possible to get the flu from the vaccine because it contains inactive fragments of the virus,” she says. “Mild fever, mild body aches or a reaction at the site of injection are possible, but these complications are infrequent and short-lived.”

Nasal and injectable forms of the flu vaccine are available, and Reid recommends that families get immunized as soon as vaccines become available in the fall to prevent illness.

Should I Worry About Swine Flu?

The H1N1 virus, dubbed “swine flu” by the media, has made headlines recently. While Tamiflu® and Relenza® are effective in treating symptoms, uncertainty surrounds whether or not the virus may combine with strains of influenza (the flu). This combination could make the H1N1 virus resistant to these medications, according to Reid.

In preparation for this possibility, progress is being made in the development of a vaccine against the virus. For more information about prevention of cold and flu or to schedule an appointment with a physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Allen,
call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

(Fall/Winter 2009)

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