Flu season, like winter, is coming. Is your family ready?

Are you ready for flu seasonFrom cooler temperatures to pumpkin pie, we welcome many things that come with the fall season, but the flu is not one of them. Dr. Katherine Leitner, a TMCOne provider at TMC Rincon Health Campus, provides some important pointers to best prepare families for flu season.

How should a family prepare for flu season?

The most effective preventative measure is a flu vaccination. Everyone in the family should get a flu shot.

If experiencing flu-like symptoms:

  • cover your mouth when coughing
  • avoid touching your face
  • wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  • disinfect surfaces you come in contact with
  • and stay at home for at least 24 hours

When should you get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends receiving a flu vaccine in October. Even if you did not receive the flu shot in October, it is still beneficial to obtain one throughout the flu season which can run through January or later. It is also important that everyone get the flu shot yearly, because the flu strain changes from year to year.

What about vitamin C and a healthy diet?

Studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C during a cold does not actually improve the outcome or decrease the duration of illness. However, it is always important to stick to a healthy diet so you can build a good immune system for when you do get sick. During an illness, drinking lots of fluids and staying hydrated is very important.

What should you do if a child is showing flu symptoms?

Make an appointment with your child’s health care provider right away. The provider can test for the flu and treat it with a medication if caught early. To prevent the spread of illness, keep your child out of school until he or she is feeling better.

Who should get the flu shot?

Dr. Robert Jacobson, a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic, says, “The latest recommendations from the CDC reaffirm that all of us are at risk for catching and spreading the flu, and all of us should get our flu shot this fall. Very few of us cannot get the vaccine. Our getting the vaccines protects them, too.”

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for all people aged 6 months and older without contraindications, preferably by the end of October. For those aged 65 and older, the CDC says standard-dose or high-dose vaccine is acceptable.

For information on how to protect infants under 6 months from the flu see this TMC for Children post.

Cold home remedies – What should you try?

Home cold remediesYou’ve got a runny nose, you’re congested, your head aches, your throat throbs and you just feel wiped out. It might ‘just’ be a cold, but that isn’t helping you get through the day. Colds are viral infections so antibiotics are no help (and may even be harmful). What should you do? What about all those natural remedies on the internet? Do they have any merit?

We asked TMCOne nurse practitioner Natalie Olendorf for her feedback on some of the more common home-remedy suggestions:

Zinc lozenges or nasal spray

Some studies show starting zinc lozenges or syrup in the first 24 hours of cold symptoms can shorten the length of the cold, but don’t use them for longer than 3 days as they can cause nausea when taken for longer. Some people have lost their sense of smell permanently from use of the zinc nasal spray, so it isn’t recommended.

Nasal irrigation and neti pots

Neti pots have reached the mainstream – they and nasal saline sprays may help relieve symptoms such as pressure and drainage as well as shorten the life of the cold by flushing out mucus and viruses. It’s important to make sure that you use sterilized or distilled water.

Hot ginger and lemon tea

Yum! This combination is soothing and can help reduce inflammation in the throat. Go ahead and try it. It won’t cure your cold, but it might bring some relief.

Echinacea

Echinacea can be helpful to relieve symptoms, but no strong evidence exists to show that it makes an impact on the length of the cold.

Vitamin C

Who hasn’t been tempted to dose up with vitamin C after being exposed to a snotty kid? High doses of vitamin C are thought to help support the immune system, but only take these for FEWER THAN FIVE DAYS. High doses of any vitamin can be dangerous and too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones. Also, it won’t prevent the cold, but the illness may last fewer days if your immune system is more robust. Most people get enough vitamin C from a good diet.

Essential oils, aromatherapy

There are very limited studies on the use of essential oils. And while some may help improve congestion and drainage, it is important not to use them topically or to ingest them.

Steam vapor

Steam vapor helps to decrease congestion and open up the sinuses, which can provide relief from that headache.

Elderberry

Elderberry, extract Sambucol, may help decrease the sore throat, headache and fatigue of a cold. Talk to your physician about using elderberry extract as it may interact or impact other medications you are taking.

This information is meant as a guide, but should not be used in place of medical advice from your health care provider.

If you’re in need of a same day appointment check out TMCOne

Natalie Olendorf F.N.P. and familyAbout Natalie Olendorf, F.N.P.

I am a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner. I have worked in family medicine and urgent care for the last 8 years. Prior to joining TMCOne I worked as a nurse in a Children’s Hospital in Chicago on a solid organ transplant unit and as an emergency room nurse in a Level 1 trauma center.

I attended University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana where I received by Bachelor’s in Nursing in 2003 and then attended University of Illinois Chicago where I received my Master’s in Nursing in 2009. Currently, I am working same-day care and the Fast Pass program at the TMCOne Wyatt location.

I am married and have a young son and daughter. I enjoy being active and outdoors with my family in my free time.

 

 

Making the most of your primary care visit

why you need a doctor before you get sickRegularly visiting a primary care provider is one of the best ways to maintain strong health – here’s what you can expect before, during and after the visit.

Knowing what to expect will put you at ease and help make the most of every visit.

Before the visit

First steps

When you schedule your appointment, ask about new patient registration forms. These forms usually request health history, medications, and insurance information.

Yes, there are forms to complete – but they serve a very important purpose and are not as long as you might anticipate.

“Providers want be your health partner and a little bit of preparation will be worth your time,” said Kathy McLeod, a family nurse-practitioner and primary care provider at the TMCOne Rincon location.

“As a provider, the more information I know about your health history, the better health partner I can be – providing information to best help you make current and future health choices,” McLeod said.

Arrive a little early

You should also take a peek at your insurance card to determine your copay, and be prepared to make your copayment when you arrive. If it’s your first visit, arriving 15 minutes early will help keep everyone on schedule.

If you have not completed the new patient forms yet – arrive about 30 minutes early to ensure you have enough time to finish them before your appointment.

Prioritize your questions and share your goals

It is recommended patients jot down a few questions a head of time, and prioritize them depending on their most immediate concerns.

“It is important to me to know what is foremost on a patient’s mind – and what their overall health goals are.”

During your visit

The PCP is here for you

If you are feeling nervous, remember that a PCP is your health partner and their purpose is to assist you. Discussions about your health care are confidential and protected by federal law.

“We want patients to feel confident sharing their health challenges and history so we can provide the best health advice and direction possible.”

Your needs are the priority

A PCP visit may include a physical exam. If you have privacy preferences, let the provider know.

“A dedicated PCP will make accommodations to ensure the patient feels comfortable, respected and valued,” explained McLeod.

Long-term health goals

The provider can do more than treat an immediate health need – they can review your health history and help make a plan to maintain good health going forward.

“A healthy lifestyle is not a one-size fits all,” said McLeod. “We think critically about each patient’s health and health challenges, discuss needs and preferences and help tailor a healthy plan just for you.”

After your visit

Schedule your next appointment before you leave

Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly visit their health care provider are healthier – so be sure to make your next appointment before you leave.

“Based on your health needs and challenges, you and your provider should decide when the next appointment should be.”

Schedule referrals, testing and blood draws right away

“It’s a good idea to make arrangements as soon as possible.” McLeod explained. “The faster you schedule, the faster you can get needed results and we can take action.”

The PCP is your health resource

Contact your PCP’s office with any health developments, because they can help facilitate treatment quickly. “Whether big or small – a PCP is your personal health resource. Please remember to call 911 immediately for emergencies and life threatening matters.”

Get all the answers

A patient’s health education and understanding are crucial – so what should a patient do if they have an additional question? “Online patient portals are becoming more commonplace and are one of the easiest and fastest ways to keep in contact with your provider,” said McLeod.

MyChart

MyChart is secure, online access to your health information at TMCOne. Your health information and your visits to TMCOne are available at your fingertips from the privacy of your home computer, smartphone or tablet at any time, day or night. All that is needed is Internet access and an email account.

With MyChart you can:

  • View your health summary, current list of medications and allergies
  • Email your provider with non-urgent medical questions (please allow 48 hours for answers)
  • Make and cancel appointments
  • e-Check In for scheduled appoints, allowing you to fill out any needed paperwork ahead of time.
  • Refill prescriptions
  • View test/lab results as released by your provider
  • Access medical information of children or dependent adults, including access to immunizations
  • Review post-visit instructions
  • Online bill pay

Provide input

Health care organizations like TMCOne often send surveys to their patients – please take a moment to share your experience.

“Your suggestions matter to the PCP,” McLeod said. “At TMCOne our mission is to provide the highest quality, compassionate care to every patient every time. We are always looking to improve patient experience and we take patient feedback very seriously.”

The TMCOne website provides patient resources, preparation information for your visit, and new patient forms.

Click here for further information about MyChart.

Is it the flu or just a cold? Advice from a family nurse practitioner

Is it the flu or just a cold?

Natalie Olendorf, family nurse practitioner with TMCOne explains the difference between the two, what you can do to prevent falling victim to them, and when you should seek medical advice.

Both the flu (or influenza) and the common cold are viral infections. However, while the common cold is usually harmless although uncomfortable, influenza has the potential to be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those at risk for complications.

Typically the flu affects the nose, throat, and the lungs. The common cold, meanwhile, is a viral infection of just the upper respiratory tract or nose, sinuses, and throat.

Symptoms of the flu include chills, sweats, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches and fever over 101.4. It can make people feel quite ill – often they don’t even want to get out of bed. Symptoms will usually last 10-14 days.

Symptoms of the common cold are similar to those of the flu, but not as severe and include a runny nose, nasal congestion, a sore throat, facial pressure, mild aches, and even a low grade fever. Most people will recover from a cold within 7-10 days.

Treatment of the flu

Most people get over the flu without prescriptions, but if you are at risk for complications, you should see your primary care provider for an anti-viral medication called oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).

It’s important to note that antiviral medications don’t work like an antibiotic. They help to shorten the flu illness and to prevent complications but do not cure the flu. They need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms or they don’t work well. Other treatments include ibuprofen or acetaminophen, rest and fluids.

Should I take antibiotics?

Since the flu, like the common cold, is a viral infection an antibiotic should not be taken. Antibiotics are only good for getting rid of bacterial infections. It is not healthy to take antibiotics when they are not needed because your body can develop resistance, meaning they won’t work when they are needed in the future. Or you may have an unnecessary side effect or allergic reaction.

When should I contact a primary care provider?

You should contact your primary care provider if you have a high fever that is not relieved by over the counter medications; have shortness of breath or trouble breathing, severe cough, are unable to take in fluids or food, or start to become dehydrated.

Who is at risk for flu complications?

Complications of the flu can be significant even life threatening. They include pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and COPD flare ups, heart problems, and ear infections.

Generally, people who are at risk for flu complications include children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with obesity, asthma, or COPD, smokers, and those with chronic medical conditions like kidney disease or diabetes. Even if you don’t fall into one of the risk groups, someone you love might. Getting the vaccination will help protect those you care about too.

How to prevent the flu

The most important thing that can be done is to get the flu vaccine in the fall.

The vaccine helps your body to make antibodies to fight off the flu without actually getting the flu. It takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine for the antibodies to develop and provide you with protection from those flu strains. This is why it is better if you get vaccinated early in the flu season.

You can also protect yourself against the flu include keeping your immune system healthy by getting enough sleep at night, eating a variety of foods including fruits and vegetables, getting exercise, and managing stress. Wash your hands before and after eating and using the restroom. Avoid others with flu symptoms.

If you have a severe cough or fever, please don’t go to work or school. Stop transmission of the flu by limiting exposure to others.

But I always feel sick after the flu vaccine!

The flu vaccine has a form of a dead virus and a dead virus won’t get you sick with the flu.

However, some people may feel achy or under the weather for a couple days after having a flu vaccine. This is a sign of your body’s immune system making antibodies. Although uncomfortable, this is much milder than the feeling you have if you contract influenza.

The flu vaccine also is given during cold and flu season, so you may contract a separate cold or respiratory illness after being vaccinated. This is a coincidence and was not caused by the flu vaccine.

When should I get the flu vaccine?

Now!

If you haven’t already had your flu vaccine, get vaccinated before it starts spreading through our community. Even if it is late in the flu season the vaccine can still be beneficial. You can schedule an appointment to get the flu vaccine at the TMCOne Wyatt office by calling (520) 394-6619. A brief registration keeps you on schedule, the central location makes it easy and the friendly professionals provide the quality care your family expects from TMCOne. The flu shot is covered by insurance and only $25 for out of network plans.*

 

Natalie Olendorf F.N.P. and familyAbout Natalie Olendorf, F.N.P.

I am a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner. I have worked in family medicine and urgent care for the last 8 years. Prior to joining TMCOne I worked as a nurse in a Children’s Hospital in Chicago on a solid organ transplant unit and as an emergency room nurse in a Level 1 trauma center.

I attended University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana where I received by Bachelor’s in Nursing in 2003 and then attended University of Illinois Chicago where I received my Master’s in Nursing in 2009. Currently, I am working same-day care and the Fast Pass program at the TMCOne Wyatt location.

I am married and have a young son and daughter. I enjoy being active and outdoors with my family in my free time.

 

Is your family ready for flu season?

Are you ready for flu seasonFrom cooler temperatures to pumpkin pie, we welcome many things that come with the fall season, but the flu is not one of them. Dr. Katherine Leitner, a TMCOne provider at TMC Rincon Health Campus, provides some important pointers to best prepare families for flu season.

How should a family prepare for flu season?

The most effective preventative measure is a flu vaccination. Everyone in the family should get a flu shot.

If experiencing flu-like symptoms:

  • cover your mouth when coughing
  • avoid touching your face
  • wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  • disinfect surfaces you come in contact with
  • and stay at home for at least 24 hours

When should you get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends receiving a flu vaccine in October. Even if you did not receive the flu shot in October, it is still beneficial to obtain one throughout the flu season which can run through January or later. It is also important that everyone get the flu shot yearly, because the flu strain changes from year to year.

What about vitamin C and a healthy diet?

Studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C during a cold does not actually improve the outcome or decrease the duration of illness. However, it is always important to stick to a healthy diet so you can build a good immune system for when you do get sick. During an illness, drinking lots of fluids and staying hydrated is very important.

What should you do if a child is showing flu symptoms?

Make an appointment with your child’s health care provider right away. The provider can test for the flu and treat it with a medication if caught early. To prevent the spread of illness, keep your child out of school until he or she is feeling better.

Who should get the flu shot?

Dr. Robert Jacobson, a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic, says, “The latest recommendations from the CDC reaffirm that all of us are at risk for catching and spreading the flu, and all of us should get our flu shot this fall. Very few of us cannot get the vaccine. Our getting the vaccines protects them, too.”

Influenza vaccine recommendations for the 2017-18 season include these updates and changes:

  • Afluria Quadrivalent and Flublok Quadrivalent are now available for patients 18 and older.

  • FluLaval Quadrivalent may be given to children as young as 6 months. Previously, administration was limited to children 3 and older.

  • Pregnant women may receive any age-appropriate flu vaccine that is approved and recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  • FluMist Quadrivalent should be not should not be used during the 2017–2018 season due to concerns about its effectiveness against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses in the U.S. during the 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 influenza seasons.

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for all people aged 6 months and older without contraindications, preferably by the end of October. For those aged 65 and older, the CDC says standard-dose or high-dose vaccine is acceptable.
As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Tucson Medical Center works directly with Mayo Clinic, the nation’s No.1 hospital according to U.S. News & World Report. Our doctors get access to Mayo Clinic knowledge and resources, and you get the best care, close to home.

For information on how to protect infants under 6 months from the flu see this TMC for Children post.

Dr. Leitner is a TMCOne provider at the TMC Rincon Health Campus, near Drexel and Houghton.

 

5 Reasons why you need a primary care provider

5 reasons why you need a primary care physiciaWhy do you need a primary care provider?

You feel fine. No major illnesses, the occasional sniffle, and that niggling headache of course, and your mom just got diagnosed with high cholesterol, but you? You feel fine. You haven’t seen a doctor since you had to rush into urgent care that weekend two years ago.

The time to go to your PCP is when you’re sick right? You don’t have time right now.

WRONG!

Establishing a relationship with your primary care provider has all kind of benefits:

  1. Try getting in to see a provider quickly if you don’t have a primary care provider.
    They’ll want you to have had a new patient appointment to get a history and baseline information first. Those long appointments are usually at set times and not as flexible as regular appointments. Having a PCP established means the office is more able to squeeze you in for a quick appointment or call you back to discuss an issue and get you back on your feet and maybe back to work quickly.
  2. Back on the road to recovery
    A primary care provider can follow up and make sure you’re on the way to recovery following a visit to urgent care or an emergency room.
  3. Keep you up to date
    Whether it’s a new flu strain or new wellness screening guidelines, your primary care provider can help you stay current on vaccinations and preventive screenings maintaining your good health.
  4. A medical professional who looks at the whole you
    Your cardiologist is worrying about your heart rate, your neurologist your seizures, but who is looking at the big picture? Your primary care provider can oversee management of your overall health – your PCP  is able to see results from all specialists and able to get the big picture. And because your PCP has a relationship with you, he or she can help come up with a plan if you have complex medical needs. Which leads us to:
  5. Someone you can talk frankly with about your health concerns
    With a relationship that develops over time, a primary care provider can better understand what matters to you with respect to your lifestyle choices, health goals, etc. Building trust and a connection is an important piece of the relationship between a patient and a primary care provider. If you have a good relationship, it is easier to share those pertinent factors that you might be shy about otherwise.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Let us help you find one today! Call (520) 324-4900

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Vaccines are particularly important for seniors

vaccines seniorsVaccinations are important for all populations to prevent the spread of, and complications caused by, serious illnesses. It is particularly important for seniors to receive recommended vaccinations because the body’s immune system becomes more susceptible to illness as we age.

Flu vaccine

The most important vaccine for seniors is an annual influenza or flu vaccine. An estimated yearly average of 21,000 influenza-related deaths occur among adults 65 years-old and older.

New vaccines have been developed to address senior needs, and promote a better immune response.

Currently, high-dose influenza vaccines are licensed and available. Studies done on more than 31,000 people found 24 percent greater effectiveness with this compared to standard dose vaccines, although there are more potential side effects.

Pneumococcal or pneumonia vaccine

There are now two different vaccines for people 65 and older. These are 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV 13, and 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV 23.

The first covers 13 strains of the bacteria that commonly causes pneumonia and the second covers 23 strains. PCV 13 is recommended to be administered first followed 6-12 months later by PPSV 23. If PPSV 23 has already been received, PCV 13 should be given one time at least one year later.

There are no repeat doses unless the patient received a first dose prior to age 65 and is experiencing chronic-disease complications.

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines

Since 2012 tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough, vaccine (TdaP) has been recommended for all adults aged 65 years and older.

Initially, it was given to adults under 65 in order to prevent it from spreading to children – then cases of whooping cough started occurring in people over the age of 65, leading to the recommendation for everyone 65 and older to receive it one time. After the one dose, it is suggested that seniors receive a tetanus and diphtheria vaccine every 10 years.

Shingles vaccine

Zostavax, a vaccine to help prevent shingles, has been available since 2006. Although Zostavax can have complications for individuals over 60, the vaccine prevented about 50 percent of shingles in this population.

Most importantly, it significantly decreased the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia, or pain that continues for months and sometimes years after shingles is over. At this time, it is recommended that all people 60 and older receive one vaccination.

Vaccines are particularly important for seniors

Seniors should address a primary care provider and discuss their medical history, current needs, and how vaccinations fit into their overall health plan.

abraham

Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL


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