Tag Archives: Influenza

Flu Prevention

fluchild

It’s time to get your flu shots! Of course, many people choose not to get the influenza vaccine (the “flu shot”) for various reasons, some more reasonable than others (including an allergy to eggs). This Straight, No Chaser reviews some of the better options left for you should you choose not to get vaccinated.

flu treatment options

The best way to avoid the flu is prevention. Consider adopting these healthy habits before you ever get exposed:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water. You know when they’re dirty. Most certainly wash your hands before you use them to eat or put anything else in your mouth.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If your hands are dirty and neither soap nor sanitizer is available, still rinse and dry your hands with warm water if you can.
  • Use disinfectant to clean surfaces.
  • Avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Politely limit close contact with people who are ill, coughing and sneezing.
  • When coughing or sneezing use the bend of your elbow or a facial tissue to help cover your nose and mouth. Learn to avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands.
  • When you become sick, stay home. It’s the proper thing to do to avoid spreading your infection to others.

Vitamin-C

Vitamin C, echinacea and zinc have long been touted to prevent colds and influenza. There are no studies confirming or refuting this claim. Despite assurances that these and other herbal medicines are safe alternatives because they’re “natural”, the active ingredients in them are the same as found in certain prescription medicines. Thus they too may interact with other medications and worsen certain medical conditions. Given this, you should discuss your use of supplements with your physician or pharmacist prior to use.

flu med

Another level of defense for you involves use of certain antiviral prescription medications. If you are exposed to someone (e.g. a family member) with influenza, and especially if you begin having flu-like symptoms, immediately contact your physician to discuss taking medicines to prevent catching the flu. Such medications include Tamiflu® (generic name: oseltamivir), Relenza® (generic name: zanamivir), Flumadine® (generic name: rimantadine) and Symmetrel® (generic name: amantadine). If you make the request more than 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms, you likely won’t be given the medication, since it isn’t likely to be effective outside of this time frame.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic. Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
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Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physician, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Health Disparities

Disparities

In large part, this blog exists to inform individuals of all backgrounds about the risks that lead to abnormal health outcomes. Our hope is that once you discover the risks, you’ll be sufficiently equipped and incentivized to take the simple steps provided to improve your health.
Disparities are abnormal outcomes of a different variety. Disparities in healthcare lead to premature development of disease and death. The culprits are often insufficient access to care, culture barriers, habits and even discriminatory practices. It is critical for all involved, i.e., individuals, healthcare planners and practitioners, to understand these causes so that everyone can adjust habits and apply resources to combat this health hazard affecting both individuals and communities.
For the last 25 years of my career, I’ve had the unfortunate privilege of addressing this topic in national forums, including before the National Urban League, before the National Medical Association, recently, in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine and in Straight, No Chaser to the extent that our service provides you with the information that can make a difference in your lives. Unfortunately for some, it’s almost never that easy.

 disparities_infant-mortality

As a statement of fact, according to the latest Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report,  African-Americans suffer global health disparities that result in the following outcomes.

  • Life expectancy: In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years. The average African-American could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average White American.
  • Death rates: In 2009, African-Americans had the highest death rates from homicide among all racial and ethnic populations. Rates among African-American males were the highest for males across all age groups.
  • Infant mortality rates: In 2008, infants of African-American women had the highest death rate among American infants with a rate more than twice as high as infants of white women.

 disparitydm

The following disparities were also reported:

  • Heart disease and stroke: In 2009, African-Americans had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations, with disparities across all age groups younger than 85 years of age.
  • High blood pressure: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of hypertension was among adults aged 65 years and older, African-American adults, US-born adults, adults with less than a college education, adults who received public health insurance (18-64 years old) and those with diabetes, obesity or a disability compared with their counterparts. The percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics who had control of high blood pressure were lower compared to white adults.
  • Obesity: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of obesity among adults was highest among African-American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African-American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups.
  • Diabetes: In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among African-American adults was nearly twice as large as that for white adults.
  • Activity limitations caused by chronic conditions: From 1999-2008, the number of years of expected life free of activity limitations caused by chronic conditions is disproportionately higher for African-American adults than whites.
  • Periodontitis: In 2009-2010, the prevalence of periodontitis (a form of dental disease) was greatest among African-American and Mexican American adults compared with white adults.
  • HIV: In 2010, African-American adults had the largest HIV infection rate compared with rates among other racial and ethnic populations. Prescribed HIV treatment among African-American adults living with HIV was less than among white adults.
  • Access to care: In 2010, Hispanic and African-American adults aged 18-64 years had larger percentages without health insurance compared with white and Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts.
  • Colorectal cancer: In 2008, African Americans had the largest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer of all racial and ethnic populations despite similar colorectal screening rates compared to white adults.
  • Influenza vaccination: During the 2010-11 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage was similar for African-American and white children aged six months to 17 years but lower among African-American adults compared with white adults.
  • Socioeconomic factors: In 2011, similar to other minority adults aged 25 years or older, a larger percentage of African-American adults did not complete high school compared with white adults. A larger percentage of African American adults also lived below the poverty level and were unemployed (adults aged 18-64 years) compared with white adults of the same age.

disparityuninsured

Identifying disparities is a good start. However, to reduce them it is necessary to identify and implement solutions, both individually and institutionally. To this end, we will explore best practices in future Straight, No Chaser posts.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Flu Myths and Questions

Flu season ahead
Every year 36,000 people die and over 200,000 are hospitalized each year due to the flu—in the U.S. alone. If you’re not getting a vaccine every year, you are subjecting yourself to a significantly higher risk and allowing fears and myths to get the better of you. Knowledge is power. Learn the facts.
Does the flu shot give you the flu?
No, no, no. The influenza vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are vaccines that involve the delivery of live virus, including mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and polio. Influenza is not in that category. Flu shots are made either with ‘inactivated’ vaccine viruses that are not infectious or they contain no flu vaccine viruses at all (and instead have recombinant particles that serve to stimulate your immune system).
The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. These symptoms are among the same symptoms you see with influenza, so it’s easy to confuse them as flu symptoms. They are not.
Controlled medical studies have been performed on humans in which some people received flu shots and others received shots containing salt water. There were no differences in symptoms other than increased redness and soreness at the injection site for those receiving influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not give you the flu.
flu-shot-myth
I swear I’ve gotten the flu right after getting the flu shot! How is that possible if I can’t get the flu from the flu shot?
I always remind people that the flu vaccine does an even better job of preventing you from dying from the flu than it does in preventing you from catching the flu (and it does that at a 70–90% rate).  It primes your immune system to better fight off the influenza virus when you’re exposed to it.
There are several reasons why someone still might get a flu-like illness after being vaccinated against the flu:

  • Influenza is just one group of respiratory viruses. There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms including the common cold, which is also most commonly seen during “flu season.” The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, so any other infection timed correctly can give you similar symptoms.
  • When you get immunized against influenza, it takes the body up to two weeks to obtain the desired level of protection. There is nothing preventing you from having been infected before or during the period immediately before immunity sets in. Such an occurrence will result in your obtaining the flu despite being vaccinated.
  • An additional reason why some people may experience flu-like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a strain of influenza that is different from the viruses against which the vaccine is designed to protect. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the match between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those causing illness among the population that same year.
  • It is also the case that the flu vaccine doesn’t always provide adequate protection against the flu. This is more likely to occur among people who have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older. Even if the vaccine is 90% effect, some individuals will contact the flu despite having been vaccinated.

Please don’t get the wrong message from this section. These explanations are the exceptions, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, the influenza vaccine does an excellent job of protecting against and prevent disease from the influenza virus.
Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Influenza causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are especially young or old, you are placing yourself at significant risk by not getting vaccinated. Even if you aren’t in one of the above categories and are otherwise healthy, a flu infection can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death.

flu-vaccine-facts-myths

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone six months and older. Once vaccinated, your immune protection decreases over time. These boosters are scheduled and dosed to help you maintain the best level of protection against influenza. Additionally, the virus mutates (changes) every year, so what you were covered for this year may not apply next year.
You can make a decision not to get vaccinated, but frankly, that’s accepts a risk that you flies in the face of a reasonable risk/benefit analysis, and you would be doing so in the face of the solid consensus of medical evidence and research. You should seriously question the motives or knowledge of someone who suggests that you should not get vaccinate for influenza, particularly if they profess to be involved in healthcare. Get vaccinated.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Hygiene and Illness

sneeze_in_arm

There are things you know, there are things you know but don’t really know, and there are still other things that you think you know that you don’t know at all. When it comes to colds and influenza (both or which are simple to understand, prevent and treat), all of the above apply.
Are you sickly or do you get colds more frequently than others? Respectfully, a big part of that is because you have habits that put you at risk. Common things happen commonly.

germs-on-hands

Of course this is not an actual photo, but it’s a good depiction of what’s happening. Simply put, most of the day, your hands are pretty disgusting. You handle money that’s been handed hundreds if not thousands of times and never cleaned. You grab handles and door knobs all day long. You cough and sneeze throughout the day, spewing germs into the air to be inhaled by others. And you spend time in the restroom. Your unclean hands contribute to many ailments, including colds, influenza, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) and skin infections.
The important points are simple things you can do to lower your risk for infections. First, you have to stop assuming you know more than you do about basic hygiene and allow yourself to start practicing better habits. For example …

  • When you sneeze, do you sneeze into your hands or into the air around you? Please learn the habit covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by sneezing/coughing into your elbow and not your hands.
  • How often do you wash your hands? You must wash every time you begin to cook, before you eat, after you use the rest room, before you change a diaper and before you apply any topical medicine.
  • Have you ever noticed how much you keep your hands on parts of you that can become infected by doing so? Keep your hands out of your eyes, mouth and nose, and stop picking at your skin!

handwashing2

Yes, you wash your hands, but do you do so effectively and when you need to? Hand washing must be the easiest and most effective ways to prevent disease. Let’s start with this: from now on, whatever you do to clean your hands, do it for twenty seconds. Of course, antimicrobial soap and water are what we all learned to do way back when. It works! If that’s not available, use hand sanitizers or disposable hand wipes. It that’s not available, just rinse your hands! Be sure to rub your hands vigorously during the process as if you’re trying to get someone off of your hands, because you are!

sneeze

 
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: About That Vomiting and Diarrhea…

gastroenteritis.jpg.mid
You’ve all been there and done that. It’s always a bad day when you get the so-called stomach flu… First of all ‘the flu’ is a respiratory disease (affects the lungs, not the stomach and intestines), and the influenza viruses don’t cause that syndrome of vomiting and watery diarrhea. So, what you’re actually getting is gastroenteritis (gastro = stomach, entero = intestines, and itis = inflammation), an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Most cases of gastroenteritis are infections caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea (other symptoms may include belly cramping, fever and headache from all that retching). There are other (bacterial) causes of vomiting and diarrhea, but the overwhelming number of cases is due to viruses. Your physician will know when the other considerations come into play. Here’s a few points you really want to know.
1. Is it serious?

  • In most cases of viral gastroenteritis, the symptoms and condition are rate limited and will come and go without much further ado. Your symptoms will last up to 10 days in most cases.
  • The concern isn’t nearly as much with the vomiting and diarrhea as it is with the dehydration that can result from all those fluid losses. Dehydration can cause all manner of electrolyte abnormalities, leading to serious acute illness and even death. In fact, diarrhea and dehydration have long been the number one cause of death worldwide outside of the United States.

2. Is it contagious?

  • Absolutely. This is one of the main reasons you’re always being told to wash your hands, especially after using the bathroom. Fecal-oral (yes, anus to mouth) transmission of viruses makes gastroenteritis and many other illnesses contagious. Hand shaking and other forms of contact (including eating food poorly handled or undercooked) extend the risk of transmission.

diarrheaemergency

3. How can I avoid gastroenteritis?
There are good options available to you.

  • Avoid food and water that you believe to be contaminated, perhaps because others have had problems with it.
  • Frequent hand washing is very important.
  • Similarly, take steps to wash and disinfect possibly contaminated clothing and surfaces, preventing this before it gets started.
  • A vaccine is available for two of the more common causes of gastroenteritis. Discuss whether it’s appropriate for your child with his/her pediatrician (it needs to be given during your child’s first year of life).

4. How will it be treated?

  • Fluids, fluids and more fluids will be given, and unless you can’t keep anything down at all, the fluids should be given by mouth. It’s interesting to note that the U.S. overuse intravenous (IV) fluids much more in these instances than the rest of the world. Learn about oral rehydration therapy (ORT). It’s how the rest of the world (very successfully) treats most cases of vomiting and diarrhea, and it’s roughly approximated by all those popular rehydration brands. The key is to take in enough fluids to stay ahead of the fluid losses. ORT is available over the counter, and remember that you don’t have to guzzle it. As little as a teaspoon at a time still can keep you hydrated.

It’s important to discuss some other treatment considerations.

  • Antibiotics don’t work against these viruses, so in this example, they won’t be helpful.
  • In select instances, your physician may provide symptomatic treatment for vomiting and diarrhea, but in the absence of this, they should be avoided. There are significant consequences to taking these medications, and a physician should be involved in taking that risk.

In summary, you don’t always have to run to the ER when you get the runs. Stay hydrated, my friends.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Flu Vaccine Recommendations for 2017-18 and a Quick Influenza Primer


The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its recommendations for the upcoming flu season. There is no equivocation in these recommendations, and we strongly support your complete adherence to them.

Recommendations:

  • Pediatricians offer influenza vaccine to all children 6 months of age and older, as soon as the vaccine becomes available, in order to complete vaccination and provide protection before the flu season starts. Preferably, this should be accomplished by the end of October for best benefit.
  • All household members should be vaccinated, including child care providers, grandparents and women who are pregnant, are postpartum or are breastfeeding during the flu season.
  • The live attenuated intranasal vaccine is NOT recommended, as it has performed poorly in recent years.
  • Special effort should be made to vaccinate all children 6 months and older who have conditions that increase their risk of complications of flu. This includes those born preterm (premmies) and with chronic medical conditions, including the following:
    • asthma and other chronic lung diseases
    • heart disease
    • diabetes and other metabolic problems
    • weakened immune systems.
  • All health care and child care personnel should receive an annual flu shot.

Why:

  • Last year over 100 US children died of the flu, and thousands more were hospitalized from influenza or its complications.
  • Historically, more than 80% of flu deaths in children have been in those not vaccinated.


Etc:

  • Antiviral medications are not a substitute for the vaccine and offer best results only if started within 48 hours of symptoms. If you present after 48 hours of symptom onset, you likely will not receive the medicine.
  • Be clear: the benefits of influenza vaccines greatly outpace the occurrence of any risks, especially in the calculus of death from the disease compared with deaths from the vaccine.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Healthcare Disparities

Disparities

In large part, this blog exists to inform individuals of all backgrounds about the risks that lead to abnormal health outcomes. Our hope is that once you discover the risks, you’ll be sufficiently equipped and incentivized to take the simple steps provided to improve your health.
Disparities are abnormal outcomes of a different variety. Disparities in healthcare lead to premature development of disease and death. The culprits are often insufficient access to care, culture barriers, habits and even discriminatory practices. It is critical for all involved, i.e., individuals, healthcare planners and practitioners, to understand these causes so that everyone can adjust habits and apply resources to combat this health hazard affecting both individuals and communities.
For the last 25 years of my career, I’ve had the unfortunate privilege of addressing this topic in national forums, including before the National Urban League, before the National Medical Association, recently, in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine and in Straight, No Chaser to extent that our service provides you with the information that can make a difference in your lives. Unfortunately for some, it’s almost never that easy.

 disparities_infant-mortality

As a statement of fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report 
of 2013, African-Americans suffer global health disparities that result in the following outcomes.

  • Life expectancy: In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years. The average African-American could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average White American.
  • Death rates: In 2009, African-Americans had the highest death rates from homicide among all racial and ethnic populations. Rates among African-American males were the highest for males across all age groups.
  • Infant mortality rates: In 2008, infants of African-American women had the highest death rate among American infants with a rate more than twice as high as infants of white women.

 disparitydm

The following disparities were also reported:

  • Heart disease and stroke: In 2009, African-Americans had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations, with disparities across all age groups younger than 85 years of age.
  • High blood pressure: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of hypertension was among adults aged 65 years and older, African-American adults, US-born adults, adults with less than a college education, adults who received public health insurance (18-64 years old) and those with diabetes, obesity or a disability compared with their counterparts. The percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics who had control of high blood pressure were lower compared to white adults.
  • Obesity: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of obesity among adults was highest among African-American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African-American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups.
  • Diabetes: In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among African-American adults was nearly twice as large as that for white adults.
  • Activity limitations caused by chronic conditions: From 1999-2008, the number of years of expected life free of activity limitations caused by chronic conditions is disproportionately higher for African-American adults than whites.
  • Periodontitis: In 2009-2010, the prevalence of periodontitis (a form of dental disease) was greatest among African-American and Mexican American adults compared with white adults.
  • HIV: In 2010, African-American adults had the largest HIV infection rate compared with rates among other racial and ethnic populations. Prescribed HIV treatment among African-American adults living with HIV was less than among white adults.
  • Access to care: In 2010, Hispanic and African-American adults aged 18-64 years had larger percentages without health insurance compared with white and Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts.
  • Colorectal cancer: In 2008, African-Americans had the largest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer of all racial and ethnic populations despite similar colorectal screening rates compared to white adults.
  • Influenza vaccination: During the 2010-11 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage was similar for African-American and white children aged six months to 17 years but lower among African-American adults compared with white adults.
  • Socioeconomic factors: In 2011, similar to other minority adults aged 25 years or older, a larger percentage of African-American adults did not complete high school compared with white adults. A larger percentage of African-American adults also lived below the poverty level and were unemployed (adults aged 18-64 years) compared with white adults of the same age.

disparityuninsured

Identifying disparities is a good start. However, to reduce them it is necessary to identify and implement solutions, both individually and institutionally. To this end, we will explore best practices in future Straight, No Chaser posts. Feel free to ask any questions you have on this topic.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Hygiene and Illness

sneeze_in_arm

There are things you know, there are things you know but don’t really know, and there are still other things that you think you know that you don’t know at all. When it comes to colds and influenza (both or which are simple to understand, prevent and treat), all of the above apply.
Are you sickly or do you get colds more frequently than others? Respectfully, a big part of that is because you have habits that put you at risk. Common things happen commonly.

germs-on-hands

Of course this is not an actual photo, but it’s a good depiction of what’s happening. Simply put, most of the day, your hands are pretty disgusting. You handle money that’s been handed hundreds if not thousands of times and never cleaned. You grab handles and door knobs all day long. You cough and sneeze throughout the day, spewing germs into the air to be inhaled by others. And you spend time in the restroom. Your unclean hands contribute to many ailments, including colds, influenza, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) and skin infections.
The important points are simple things you can do to lower your risk for infections. First, you have to stop assuming you know more than you do about basic hygiene and allow yourself to start practicing better habits. For example …

  • When you sneeze, do you sneeze into your hands or into the air around you? Please learn the habit covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by sneezing/coughing into your elbow and not your hands.
  • How often do you wash your hands? You must wash every time you begin to cook, before you eat, after you use the rest room, before you change a diaper and before you apply any topical medicine.
  • Have you ever noticed how much you keep your hands on parts of you that can become infected by doing so? Keep your hands out of your eyes, mouth and nose, and stop picking at your skin!

handwashing2

Yes, you wash your hands, but do you do so effectively and when you need to? Hand washing must be the easiest and most effective ways to prevent disease. Let’s start with this: from now on, whatever you do to clean your hands, do it for twenty seconds. Of course, antimicrobial soap and water are what we all learned to do way back when. It works! If that’s not available, use hand sanitizers or disposable hand wipes. It that’s not available, just rinse your hands! Be sure to rub your hands vigorously during the process as if you’re trying to get someone off of your hands, because you are!

sneeze

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: About That Vomiting and Diarrhea…

gastroenteritis.jpg.mid
You’ve all been there and done that. It’s always a bad day when you get the so-called stomach flu… First of all ‘the flu’ is a respiratory disease (affects the lungs, not the stomach and intestines), and the influenza viruses don’t cause that syndrome of vomiting and watery diarrhea. So, what you’re actually getting is gastroenteritis (gastro = stomach, entero = intestines, and itis = inflammation), an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Most cases of gastroenteritis are infections caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea (other symptoms may include belly cramping, fever and headache from all that retching). There are other (bacterial) causes of vomiting and diarrhea, but the overwhelming number of cases is due to viruses. Your physician will know when the other considerations come into play. Here’s a few points you really want to know.
1. Is it serious?

  • In most cases of viral gastroenteritis, the symptoms and condition are rate limited and will come and go without much further ado. Your symptoms will last up to 10 days in most cases.
  • The concern isn’t nearly as much with the vomiting and diarrhea as it is with the dehydration that can result from all those fluid losses. Dehydration can cause all manner of electrolyte abnormalities, leading to serious acute illness and even death. In fact, diarrhea and dehydration have long been the number one cause of death worldwide outside of the United States.

2. Is it contagious?

  • Absolutely. This is one of the main reasons you’re always being told to wash your hands, especially after using the bathroom. Fecal-oral (yes, anus to mouth) transmission of viruses makes gastroenteritis and many other illnesses contagious. Hand shaking and other forms of contact (including eating food poorly handled or undercooked) extend the risk of transmission.

diarrheaemergency

3. How can I avoid gastroenteritis?
There are good options available to you.

  • Avoid food and water that you believe to be contaminated, perhaps because others have had problems with it.
  • Frequent hand washing is very important.
  • Similarly, take steps to wash and disinfect possibly contaminated clothing and surfaces, preventing this before it gets started.
  • A vaccine is available for two of the more common causes of gastroenteritis. Discuss whether it’s appropriate for your child with his/her pediatrician (it needs to be given during your child’s first year of life).

4. How will it be treated?

  • Fluids, fluids and more fluids will be given, and unless you can’t keep anything down at all, the fluids should be given by mouth. It’s interesting to note that the U.S. overuses intravenous (IV) fluids much more in these instances than the rest of the world. Learn about oral rehydration therapy (ORT). It’s how the rest of the world (very successfully) treats most cases of vomiting and diarrhea, and it’s roughly approximated by all those popular rehydration brands. The key is to take in enough fluids to stay ahead of the fluid losses. ORT is available over the counter, and remember that you don’t have to guzzle it. As little as a teaspoon at a time still can keep you hydrated.

It’s important to discuss some other treatment considerations.

  • Antibiotics don’t work against these viruses, so in this example, they won’t be helpful.
  • In select instances, your physician may provide symptomatic treatment for vomiting and diarrhea, but in the absence of this, they should be avoided. There are significant consequences to taking these medications, and a physician should be involved in taking that risk.

In summary, you don’t always have to run to the ER when you get the runs. Stay hydrated, my friends.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Healthcare Disparities

Disparities

In large part, this blog exists to inform individuals of all backgrounds about the risks that lead to abnormal health outcomes. Our hope is that once you discover the risks, you’ll be sufficiently equipped and incentivized to take the simple steps provided to improve your health.
Disparities are abnormal outcomes of a different variety. Disparities in healthcare lead to premature development of disease and death. The culprits are often insufficient access to care, culture barriers, habits and even discriminatory practices. It is critical for all involved, i.e., individuals, healthcare planners and practitioners, to understand these causes so that everyone can adjust habits and apply resources to combat this health hazard affecting both individuals and communities.
For the last 25 years of my career, I’ve had the unfortunate privilege of addressing this topic in national forums, including before the National Urban League, before the National Medical Association, recently, in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine and in Straight, No Chaser to extent that our service provides you with the information that can make a difference in your lives. Unfortunately for some, it’s almost never that easy.

 disparities_infant-mortality

As a statement of fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report 
of 2013, African-Americans suffer global health disparities that result in the following outcomes.

  • Life expectancy: In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years. The average African-American could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average White American.
  • Death rates: In 2009, African-Americans had the highest death rates from homicide among all racial and ethnic populations. Rates among African-American males were the highest for males across all age groups.
  • Infant mortality rates: In 2008, infants of African-American women had the highest death rate among American infants with a rate more than twice as high as infants of white women.

 disparitydm

The following disparities were also reported:

  • Heart disease and stroke: In 2009, African-Americans had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations, with disparities across all age groups younger than 85 years of age.
  • High blood pressure: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of hypertension was among adults aged 65 years and older, African-American adults, US-born adults, adults with less than a college education, adults who received public health insurance (18-64 years old) and those with diabetes, obesity or a disability compared with their counterparts. The percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics who had control of high blood pressure were lower compared to white adults.
  • Obesity: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of obesity among adults was highest among African-American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African-American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups.
  • Diabetes: In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among African-American adults was nearly twice as large as that for white adults.
  • Activity limitations caused by chronic conditions: From 1999-2008, the number of years of expected life free of activity limitations caused by chronic conditions is disproportionately higher for African-American adults than whites.
  • Periodontitis: In 2009-2010, the prevalence of periodontitis (a form of dental disease) was greatest among African-American and Mexican American adults compared with white adults.
  • HIV: In 2010, African-American adults had the largest HIV infection rate compared with rates among other racial and ethnic populations. Prescribed HIV treatment among African-American adults living with HIV was less than among white adults.
  • Access to care: In 2010, Hispanic and African-American adults aged 18-64 years had larger percentages without health insurance compared with white and Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts.
  • Colorectal cancer: In 2008, African-Americans had the largest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer of all racial and ethnic populations despite similar colorectal screening rates compared to white adults.
  • Influenza vaccination: During the 2010-11 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage was similar for African-American and white children aged six months to 17 years but lower among African-American adults compared with white adults.
  • Socioeconomic factors: In 2011, similar to other minority adults aged 25 years or older, a larger percentage of African-American adults did not complete high school compared with white adults. A larger percentage of African-American adults also lived below the poverty level and were unemployed (adults aged 18-64 years) compared with white adults of the same age.

disparityuninsured

Identifying disparities is a good start. However, to reduce them it is necessary to identify and implement solutions, both individually and institutionally. To this end, we will explore best practices in future Straight, No Chaser posts. Feel free to ask any questions you have on this topic.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Flu Myths and Questions

Flu season ahead
Every year 36,000 people die and over 200,000 are hospitalized each year due to the flu—in the U.S. alone. If you’re not getting a vaccine every year, you are subjecting yourself to a significantly higher risk and allowing fears and myths to get the better of you. Knowledge is power. Learn the facts.
Does the flu shot give you the flu?
No, no, no. The influenza vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are vaccines that involve the delivery of live virus, including mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and polio. Influenza is not in that category. Flu shots are made either with ‘inactivated’ vaccine viruses that are not infectious or they contain no flu vaccine viruses at all (and instead have recombinant particles that serve to stimulate your immune system).
The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. These symptoms are among the same symptoms you see with influenza, so it’s easy to confuse them as flu symptoms. They are not.
Controlled medical studies have been performed on humans in which some people received flu shots and others received shots containing salt water. There were no differences in symptoms other than increased redness and soreness at the injection site for those receiving influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not give you the flu.
flu-shot-myth
I swear I’ve gotten the flu right after getting the flu shot! How is that possible if I can’t get the flu from the flu shot?
I always remind people that the flu vaccine does an even better job of preventing you from dying from the flu than it does in preventing you from catching the flu (and it does that at a 70–90% rate).  It primes your immune system to better fight off the influenza virus when you’re exposed to it.
There are several reasons why someone still might get a flu-like illness after being vaccinated against the flu:

  • Influenza is just one group of respiratory viruses. There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms including the common cold, which is also most commonly seen during “flu season.” The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, so any other infection timed correctly can give you similar symptoms.
  • When you get immunized against influenza, it takes the body up to two weeks to obtain the desired level of protection. There is nothing preventing you from having been infected before or during the period immediately before immunity sets in. Such an occurrence will result in your obtaining the flu despite being vaccinated.
  • An additional reason why some people may experience flu-like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a strain of influenza that is different from the viruses against which the vaccine is designed to protect. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the match between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those causing illness among the population that same year.
  • It is also the case that the flu vaccine doesn’t always provide adequate protection against the flu. This is more likely to occur among people who have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older. Even if the vaccine is 90% effect, some individuals will contact the flu despite having been vaccinated.

Please don’t get the wrong message from this section. These explanations are the exceptions, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, the influenza vaccine does an excellent job of protecting against and prevent disease from the influenza virus.
Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Influenza causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are especially young or old, you are placing yourself at significant risk by not getting vaccinated. Even if you aren’t in one of the above categories and are otherwise healthy, a flu infection can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death.

flu-vaccine-facts-myths

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone six months and older. Once vaccinated, your immune protection decreases over time. These boosters are scheduled and dosed to help you maintain the best level of protection against influenza. Additionally, the virus mutates (changes) every year, so what you were covered for this year may not apply next year.
You can make a decision not to get vaccinated, but frankly, that’s accepts a risk that you flies in the face of a reasonable risk/benefit analysis, and you would be doing so in the face of the solid consensus of medical evidence and research. You should seriously question the motives or knowledge of someone who suggests that you should not get vaccinate for influenza, particularly if they profess to be involved in healthcare. Get vaccinated.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Healthcare Disparities

Disparities

In large part, this blog exists to inform individuals of all backgrounds about the risks that lead to abnormal health outcomes. Our hope is that once you discover the risks, you’ll be sufficiently equipped and incentivized to take the simple steps provided to improve your health.
Disparities are abnormal outcomes of a different variety. Disparities in healthcare lead to premature development of disease and death. The culprits are often insufficient access to care, culture barriers, habits and even discriminatory practices. It is critical for all involved, i.e., individuals, healthcare planners and practitioners, to understand these causes so that everyone can adjust habits and apply resources to combat this health hazard affecting both individuals and communities.
For the last 25 years of my career, I’ve had the unfortunate privilege of addressing this topic in national forums, including before the National Urban League, before the National Medical Association, recently, in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine and in Straight, No Chaser to extent that our service provides you with the information that can make a difference in your lives. Unfortunately for some, it’s almost never that easy.

 disparities_infant-mortality

As a statement of fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report 
of 2013, African-Americans suffer global health disparities that result in the following outcomes.

  • Life expectancy: In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years. The average African-American could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average White American.
  • Death rates: In 2009, African-Americans had the highest death rates from homicide among all racial and ethnic populations. Rates among African-American males were the highest for males across all age groups.
  • Infant mortality rates: In 2008, infants of African-American women had the highest death rate among American infants with a rate more than twice as high as infants of white women.

 disparitydm

The following disparities were also reported:

  • Heart disease and stroke: In 2009, African-Americans had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations, with disparities across all age groups younger than 85 years of age.
  • High blood pressure: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of hypertension was among adults aged 65 years and older, African-American adults, US-born adults, adults with less than a college education, adults who received public health insurance (18-64 years old) and those with diabetes, obesity or a disability compared with their counterparts. The percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics who had control of high blood pressure were lower compared to white adults.
  • Obesity: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of obesity among adults was highest among African-American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African-American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups.
  • Diabetes: In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among African-American adults was nearly twice as large as that for white adults.
  • Activity limitations caused by chronic conditions: From 1999-2008, the number of years of expected life free of activity limitations caused by chronic conditions is disproportionately higher for African-American adults than whites.
  • Periodontitis: In 2009-2010, the prevalence of periodontitis (a form of dental disease) was greatest among African-American and Mexican American adults compared with white adults.
  • HIV: In 2010, African-American adults had the largest HIV infection rate compared with rates among other racial and ethnic populations. Prescribed HIV treatment among African-American adults living with HIV was less than among white adults.
  • Access to care: In 2010, Hispanic and African-American adults aged 18-64 years had larger percentages without health insurance compared with white and Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts.
  • Colorectal cancer: In 2008, African Americans had the largest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer of all racial and ethnic populations despite similar colorectal screening rates compared to white adults.
  • Influenza vaccination: During the 2010-11 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage was similar for African-American and white children aged six months to 17 years but lower among African-American adults compared with white adults.
  • Socioeconomic factors: In 2011, similar to other minority adults aged 25 years or older, a larger percentage of African-American adults did not complete high school compared with white adults. A larger percentage of African American adults also lived below the poverty level and were unemployed (adults aged 18-64 years) compared with white adults of the same age.

disparityuninsured

Identifying disparities is a good start. However, to reduce them it is necessary to identify and implement solutions, both individually and institutionally. To this end, we will explore best practices in future Straight, No Chaser posts. Feel free to ask any questions you have on this topic.

This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK (844-762-8255) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Please like and share our blog with your family and friends. We’re here for you 24/7 with immediate, personalized information and advice. Contact your Personal Healthcare Consultant at http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com or 1-844-SMA-TALK.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser In The News: 2015 Influenza Update and Supplemental Means of Protection

flu prevention honey

Snatched from the headlines and the American Medical Association:

From The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Flu sending US seniors to the hospital in highest rate in a decade.”
From The CBS Evening News (1/30, lead story, 2:25, Pelley): “The CDC said that the flu season in much of the country appears to have peaked.” However, “the flu is now widespread in all but six states and it’s sending Americans 65 and older to the hospital at the highest rate in at least a decade.”
From The NBC Nightly News (1/31, story 3, 0:25, Williams): The high number of hospitalizations is “…being blamed on this particularly nasty strain of flu this year and a vaccine that, sadly, has proven only about 23 percent effective.”
From The Associated Press (1/31, Stobbe): Approximately “…198 out of every 100,000 people 65 and older have been hospitalized with flu-related illness this flu season. That’s roughly 86,000, according to the CDC.”
From Bloomberg News (1/31, Cortez): “The annual outbreak, already in its 10th week, has extended beyond the lower bound of a normal flu season and isn’t showing signs of easing,” said Lyn Finelli, chief of surveillance and outbreak response at the CDC. In a telephone interview, she explained, “‘While the flu may have peaked in many areas of the country, there is a surge in other areas, including New England, the Northeast and the West Coast.”
From Medscape (1/31, Lowes): The CDC “issued a letter to clinicians urging them to treat patients promptly with antiviral drugs when they suspect influenza, without any confirmatory testing.” That letter, cosigned by leaders of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and other professional societies, noted that influenza activity across the nation remains high overall and is likely to continue for weeks.” The letter discussed “the potential of antiviral drugs to reduce influenza symptoms, prevent serious complications, and keep high-risk patients out of the hospital.”

fluchild

The influenza vaccine doesn’t necessary prevent you from getting “the flu.” It’s a mixture of what is predicted to be the most common strains for the upcoming year. As noted, this year the influenza strains causing infections are so varied that this year’s vaccine is approximately 23% effective. Does that mean you shouldn’t get it? That’s not the message at all. The influenza vaccine does a very good job of preventing you for dying from “the flu,” and as noted above, certain populations are having an especially difficult time. Be reminded that there were approximately 35,000 deaths from influenza last year alone.

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So you ask, what can we do in the face of a less than optimally performing vaccine? This Straight, No Chaser reviews some of the better options left for you to engage in preventive strategies. It is always the case that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

flu treatment options

The best way to avoid the flu is prevention. Consider utilizing these healthy habits before you ever get exposed:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water. You know when they’re dirty. Most certainly wash your hands before you use them to eat or put anything else in your mouth.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If your hands are dirty and neither soap nor sanitizer is available, still rinse and dry your hands with warm water if you can.
  • Use disinfectant to clean surfaces.
  • Avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Politely limit close contact with people who are ill, coughing and sneezing.
  • When coughing or sneezing use the bend of your elbow or a facial tissue to help cover your nose and mouth. Learn to avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands.
  • When you become sick, stay home. It’s the proper thing to do to avoid spreading your infection to others.

Vitamin-C

Vitamin C, echinacea and zinc have long been touted to prevent colds and influenza. There are no studies confirming or refuting this claim. Despite assurances that these and other herbal medicines are safe alternatives because they’re “natural”, the active ingredients in them are the same as found in certain prescription medicines. Thus they too may interact with other medications and worsen certain medical conditions. Given this, you should discuss your use of supplements with your physician or pharmacist prior to use.

Flu prevention take 3

Another level of defense for you involves use of certain antiviral prescription medications. If you are exposed to someone (e.g. a family member) with influenza, and especially if you begin having flu-like symptoms, immediately contact your physician to discuss taking medicines to prevent catching the flu. Such medications include Tamiflu® (generic name: oseltamivir), Relenza® (generic name: zanamivir), Flumadine® (generic name: rimantadine) and Symmetrel® (generic name: amantadine). If you make the request more than 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms, you likely won’t be given the medication, since it isn’t likely to be effective outside of this timeframe.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Avoiding the Flu Without Getting Vaccinated

fluchild

It’s time to get your flu shots! Of course, many people choose not to get the influenza vaccine (the “flu shot”) for various reasons, some more reasonable than others (including an allergy to eggs). This Straight, No Chaser reviews some of the better options left for you should you choose not to get vaccinated.

flu treatment options

The best way to avoid the flu is prevention. Consider adopting these healthy habits before you ever get exposed:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water. You know when they’re dirty. Most certainly wash your hands before you use them to eat or put anything else in your mouth.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If your hands are dirty and neither soap nor sanitizer is available, still rinse and dry your hands with warm water if you can.
  • Use disinfectant to clean surfaces.
  • Avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Politely limit close contact with people who are ill, coughing and sneezing.
  • When coughing or sneezing use the bend of your elbow or a facial tissue to help cover your nose and mouth. Learn to avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands.
  • When you become sick, stay home. It’s the proper thing to do to avoid spreading your infection to others.

Vitamin-C

Vitamin C, echinacea and zinc have long been touted to prevent colds and influenza. There are no studies confirming or refuting this claim. Despite assurances that these and other herbal medicines are safe alternatives because they’re “natural”, the active ingredients in them are the same as found in certain prescription medicines. Thus they too may interact with other medications and worsen certain medical conditions. Given this, you should discuss your use of supplements with your physician or pharmacist prior to use.

flu med

Another level of defense for you involves use of certain antiviral prescription medications. If you are exposed to someone (e.g. a family member) with influenza, and especially if you begin having flu-like symptoms, immediately contact your physician to discuss taking medicines to prevent catching the flu. Such medications include Tamiflu® (generic name: oseltamivir), Relenza® (generic name: zanamivir), Flumadine® (generic name: rimantadine) and Symmetrel® (generic name: amantadine). If you make the request more than 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms, you likely won’t be given the medication, since it isn’t likely to be effective outside of this timeframe.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: So You're Afraid of Ebola but Not Influenza?

flu-vaccine-facts-myths

We fear the unknown and mock what we don’t understand. Amidst a national panic about less deaths than you can count on one hand (and condolences to those affected), every year 36,000 people die and over 200,000 are hospitalized each year due to the flu—in the U.S. alone. If you’re not getting a vaccine every year, you are subjecting yourself to a significantly higher risk and allowing fears and myths to get the better of you. Knowledge is power. Learn the facts.
Does the flu shot give you the flu?
No, no, no. The influenza vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are vaccines that involve the delivery of live virus, including mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and polio. Influenza is not in that category. Flu shots are made either with ‘inactivated’ vaccine viruses that are not infectious or they contain no flu vaccine viruses at all (and instead have recombinant particles that serve to stimulate your immune system).
The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. These symptoms are among the same symptoms you see with influenza, so it’s easy to confuse them as flu symptoms. They are not.
Controlled medical studies have been performed on humans in which some people received flu shots and others received shots containing salt water. There were no differences in symptoms other than increased redness and soreness at the injection site for those receiving influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not give you the flu.

flu shot

I swear I’ve gotten the flu right after getting the flu shot! How is that possible if I can’t get the flu from the flu shot?
I always remind people that the flu vaccine does an even better job of preventing you from dying from the flu than it does in preventing you from catching the flu (and it does that at a 70–90% rate).  It primes your immune system to better fight off the influenza virus when you’re exposed to it.
There are several reasons why someone still might get a flu-like illness after being vaccinated against the flu:

  • Influenza is just one group of respiratory viruses. There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms including the common cold, which is also most commonly seen during “flu season.” The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, so any other infection timed correctly can give you similar symptoms.
  • When you get immunized against influenza, it takes the body up to two weeks to obtain the desired level of protection. There is nothing preventing you from having been infected before or during the period immediately before immunity sets in. Such an occurrence will result in your obtaining the flu despite being vaccinated.
  • An additional reason why some people may experience flu-like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a strain of influenza that is different from the viruses against which the vaccine is designed to protect. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the match between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those causing illness among the population that same year.
  • It is also the case that the flu vaccine doesn’t always provide adequate protection against the flu. This is more likely to occur among people that have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older. Even if the vaccine is 90% effect, some individuals will contact the flu despite having been vaccinated.

Please don’t get the wrong message from this section. These explanations are the exceptions, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, the influenza vaccine does an excellent job of protecting against and prevent disease from the influenza virus.

Influenza

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Influenza causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are especially young or old, you are placing yourself at significant risk by not getting vaccinated. Even if you aren’t in one of the above categories and are otherwise healthy, a flu infection can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death.
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone six months and older. Once vaccinated, your immune protection decreases over time. These boosters are scheduled and dosed to help you maintain the best level of protection against influenza. Additionally, the virus mutates (changes) every year, so what you were covered for this year may not apply next year.
You can make a decision not to get vaccinated, and Straight, No Chaser has posted tips for you to protect yourself in the event you choose not to. (Click here to review.) However, you’re doing so in the face of the solid consensus of medical evidence and research. You should seriously question the motives or knowledge of someone who suggests that you should not get vaccinate for influenza, particularly if they profess to be involved in healthcare. Get vaccinated.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Health Disparities

Disparities

In large part, this blog exists to inform individuals of all backgrounds about the risks that lead to abnormal health outcomes. Our hope is that once you discover the risks, you’ll be sufficiently equipped and incentivized to take the simple steps provided to improve your health.
Disparities are abnormal outcomes of a different variety. Disparities in healthcare lead to premature development of disease and death. The culprits are often insufficient access to care, culture barriers, habits and even discriminatory practices. It is critical for all involved, i.e., individuals, healthcare planners and practitioners, to understand these causes so that everyone can adjust habits and apply resources to combat this health hazard affecting both individuals and communities.
For the last 25 years of my career, I’ve had the unfortunate privilege of addressing this topic in national forums, including before the National Urban League, before the National Medical Association, recently, in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine and in Straight, No Chaser to extent that our service provides you with the information that can make a difference in your lives. Unfortunately for some, it’s almost never that easy.

 disparities_infant-mortality

As a statement of fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report 
of 2013, African-Americans suffer global health disparities that result in the following outcomes.

  • Life expectancy: In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years. The average African-American could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average White American.
  • Death rates: In 2009, African-Americans had the highest death rates from homicide among all racial and ethnic populations. Rates among African-American males were the highest for males across all age groups.
  • Infant mortality rates: In 2008, infants of African-American women had the highest death rate among American infants with a rate more than twice as high as infants of white women.

 disparitydm

The following disparities were also reported:

  • Heart disease and stroke: In 2009, African-Americans had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations, with disparities across all age groups younger than 85 years of age.
  • High blood pressure: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of hypertension was among adults aged 65 years and older, African-American adults, US-born adults, adults with less than a college education, adults who received public health insurance (18-64 years old) and those with diabetes, obesity or a disability compared with their counterparts. The percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics who had control of high blood pressure were lower compared to white adults.
  • Obesity: From 2007-2010, the prevalence of obesity among adults was highest among African-American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African-American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups.
  • Diabetes: In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among African-American adults was nearly twice as large as that for white adults.
  • Activity limitations caused by chronic conditions: From 1999-2008, the number of years of expected life free of activity limitations caused by chronic conditions is disproportionately higher for African-American adults than whites.
  • Periodontitis: In 2009-2010, the prevalence of periodontitis (a form of dental disease) was greatest among African-American and Mexican American adults compared with white adults.
  • HIV: In 2010, African-American adults had the largest HIV infection rate compared with rates among other racial and ethnic populations. Prescribed HIV treatment among African-American adults living with HIV was less than among white adults.
  • Access to care: In 2010, Hispanic and African-American adults aged 18-64 years had larger percentages without health insurance compared with white and Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts.
  • Colorectal cancer: In 2008, African Americans had the largest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer of all racial and ethnic populations despite similar colorectal screening rates compared to white adults.
  • Influenza vaccination: During the 2010-11 influenza season, influenza vaccination coverage was similar for African-American and white children aged six months to 17 years but lower among African-American adults compared with white adults.
  • Socioeconomic factors: In 2011, similar to other minority adults aged 25 years or older, a larger percentage of African-American adults did not complete high school compared with white adults. A larger percentage of African American adults also lived below the poverty level and were unemployed (adults aged 18-64 years) compared with white adults of the same age.

disparityuninsured

Identifying disparities is a good start. However, to reduce them it is necessary to identify and implement solutions, both individually and institutionally. To this end, we will explore best practices in future Straight, No Chaser posts. Feel free to ask any questions you have on this topic.

This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK (844-762-8255) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Please like and share our blog with your family and friends. We’re here for you 24/7 with immediate, personalized information and advice. Contact your Personal Healthcare Consultant at http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com or 1-844-SMA-TALK.

Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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