Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you haven’t gotten the flu yet you are safe. The nation is experiencing a particularly bad flu season this year and Tennessee’s traditional flu season peaks in February. There’s still time to get a flu shot and get some benefit out of it if you hurry.
Check out these other flu myths that can be heard all around campus.
Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: It’s impossible to get the flu virus from the injectable vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit an infection. It does take about two weeks for your body to build up flu antibodies after getting a flu shot, so it’s possible to still get sick after you get the shot. But it’s not the vaccine that made you sick.
Myth: Being a healthy person and using good hygiene measures is enough to protect me from the flu.
Fact: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all persons over six months of age, regardless of health status, to get a flu vaccine every year. Getting the flu can happen to anyone and unless your body has built up antibodies from the flu (either from the vaccine or from being infected with the flu), it’s a possibility that you could get sick. It takes several measures like the flu vaccine, frequent hand-washing, and other immune system boosters such as avoiding sick people and adequate sleep to decrease the likelihood of a flu infection.
Myth: I’ve received my flu shot, so I don’t need to be concerned about getting a flu bug.
Fact: The flu shot usually offers on average 60 percent protection from the flu. The three strains of flu virus that are in each year’s vaccine are predicted by experts before flu season starts, but there is always the chance that another strain of flu will start to spread and cause infection. The CDC reports that the 2012-13 flu vaccine is covering 91 percent of the flu strains circulating as of early January. Even though it’s not guaranteed protection, those who get the flu shot still have better chances of not getting the flu or having a less severe case if they do get infected.
Myth: The stomach flu is a type of flu.
Fact: Many people call gastroenteritis the “stomach flu” and lump it in the same category with influenza. But the flu is a respiratory disease. Most people don’t have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea at all—but such symptoms do occur more frequently with children. Symptoms of the flu are runny or stuffy nose, fever, body aches, headache and cough.
Myth: I haven’t had a flu shot yet this year, but now it’s too late.
Fact: While getting the vaccine when it first comes out each season is best (in early fall), flu season usually hits its peak in February. It’s not too late to get a vaccine and be protected.
Myth: I got a flu shot in the fall, so I may need a second one in case the protection doesn’t last through the season.
Fact: Studies on levels of circulating flu strain antibodies have shown that the vaccine offers adequate protection through the end of flu season and some protection for months after. Those over age 65 are encouraged to get the high-dose flu vaccine to increase their protection.
Proper technique fo
washing your hands
with soap and water:
Wet hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
Tip: Avoid hot water to prevent skin irritation.
Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers.
Tip: Mentally sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to time your efforts.
Rinse hands with water and dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
Tip: Dry hands completely because germs are passed in larger numbers from wet hands than from dry.
Proper technique for
using hand sanitizer
Observe hands for visible dirt and revert to hand washing with soap and water if present.
Tip: If hands are wet wash with soap and water.
Check the label for manufactures’ recommended volume application.
Tip: Apply enough of the product to wet your hands completely.
Rub your hands together covering all surfaces until they are dry.
Tip: A sufficient amount of alcohol was applied if drying takes 30 seconds.
Amidst a busy flu season it is important to remind ourselves of the simple sanitary obligations in order to maintain public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider hand hygiene to be at the top of the list for prevention of spreading germs and getting sick.
Hand hygiene is not a new concept. In 1822, a French pharmacist used solutions containing chlorides of lime or soda as disinfectants and antiseptics. Nursing pioneers such as Florence Nightingale led the way as early as 1854, during the Crimean war, by recognizing anti-septic agents used for hand washing significantly reduced the spread of disease and mortality. Why are we not washing our hands?
With a market saturated with gels, sprays, foams, liquid and antibacterial soaps each claiming to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, we are confused. Moms, school teachers, grocers, librarians and many more want to know which work the best?
The CDC maintains washing with soap and water to be the best method for germ reduction. Research shows regular soap to be as effective as antibacterial soap. Some scientists even discourage use of anti-bacterial soap related to the destruction of healthy bacteria. The effectiveness of hand washing with soap and water is greatly affected by the technique used.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates antiseptic hand wash products and found solutions containing 6o-95 percent ethanol or isopropanol alcohol to be most effective. Consumers should take note of product labels before making a purchase because products containing less than 40 percent alcohol have been found on store shelves. The FDA stresses that the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand hygiene products may be skewed by the concentration of alcohol, contact time, volume of alcohol used and whether the hands are wet when the alcohol is applied.
Wash hands with soap and water after every 5-10 applications of hand gel to eliminate build-up.
Hand hygiene practices play an important role in the prevention and spread of disease. Most of us realize we need to wash our hands and have been told this since a very young age. Whether using soap and water or hand sanitizer, now is the time to slow down and be mindful of proper technique. All you need is 30 seconds.
The tragic mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is both heartbreaking and disturbing. We all ache and share the trauma of this unthinkable event. In the shock and grief, we are filled with questions. Some questions seek facts – what happened? Some questions seek the Divine – where was God? Some questions seek understanding – why did this happen?
In times of such pain and uncertainty we want answers sooner rather than later. We hope that perhaps answers will provide a little balm for the soul wound we all feel. In our urgency to know, we run the risk of being satisfied with simple and incomplete answers.
Mental illness such as a personality disorder and neurocognitive disorders such as Aspergers Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder) have been discussed extensively in media accounts of the Sandy Hook tragedy. In less formal conversations about the shooter, I have heard people default to saying, “He was crazy.” It is understandable to default to mental health conclusions in our urgency to find relief in answers to impossible questions, but we must also consider how these mental health social narratives impact the vast majority of people with mental illness or neurocognitive disorders who are not violent.
If we arrive at the simple conclusion that “he was crazy” or had a mental illness and go no further in our thinking or understanding, then what we have done is to situate anyone with a mental illness as potentially or likely dangerous. It will result in the social construction of stigma, creating an environment ripe for discrimination, dismissal and violence against people who fight daily against mental illness.
In order to help with the conversation about the intersection of violence and mental health, here are some facts:
"…the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)
“People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator.” (World Psychiatry. 2003 June; 2(2): 121–124)
In short, people who struggle against mental illness are not to be feared, but rather protected and advocated for. Here are a few tips on helping the conversation of mental health and violence.
Avoid simple answers that serve only to soothe our own anxieties, but do little by way of helping.
Put unhelpful words like “crazy” out of the social narratives of mass violence.
Engage in activities, organizations and relationships in such a way that promotes the mental, emotional, social and spiritual health of yourself and everyone around you.
It’s way too easy to head home from a Christmas celebration with a few unwanted gifts you didn’t expect -- extra pounds from all the celebrating. But with a little self-discipline and a dose of creativity, anyone can fight off the holiday pounds.
Even if family commitments and Christmas parties throw off your exercise schedule, make time for 10-to-20 minute exercise sessions throughout the day or week. Get outside and rake some leaves or go for a quick walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Get out an old exercise video you haven’t used in a while. The key is make exercise FUN!
Here are some additional ways to make the holiday healthy from my co-workers in Lipscomb’s health sciences programs:
Looking to maintain your weight during the holidays? Try committing to “Meatless Mondays” from now until the end of the year.
Autumn Marshall, chair of the department of a family and consumer science and professor of nutrition
Sorry Starbucks, but I’ve got to advise limiting the holiday-flavored drinks. Pumpkin lattes, hot chocolate and peppermint mochas can be festive and good, but they pack a lot of calories. Make these drinks a special treat. Choose a smaller size with skim milk and skip the whipped cream!
Bethany Massey, director of health service
Deck the holidays with bowls of fiber! Collards, winter squash, beets, apples, sweet potatoes, turnips, pecans and mushrooms are all in season right now. This fare is featured at the Nashville Farmer’s Market during the holiday months. Consuming unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods can stave off holiday poundage giving you a head start with New Year’s resolutions.
Choose your favorite foods deliberately, savoring the first bites and chewing each mouthful 20 times to create a taste sensation, a true sensory celebration. Gluttony and guilt prevail after mindlessly shoveling in copious amounts mediocre food. Save yourself from overconsumption and digestive problems with more mindful selections.
Karen Robichaud, director of the exercise and nutrition graduate program
Stop when you’re full! Don’t worry, if you didn't get to try everything you want at the meal, eat the leftovers at the next meal after a walk around the block.
“America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership, Americans deserve better” - The words of then-Senator Barak Obama in 2006.
Too bad the fiscal cliff isn't as scenic as this one.
Here we sit in the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown. America is entering the second term of the Obama administration and partisan gridlock seems more entrenched than ever before. The fiscal cliff sits threateningly on the horizon. In fact, in the middle of December, both parties seem no less entrenched in their positions than before the election. The Republican-controlled House is focused on stopping the perceived excesses of the Obama administration; the Democratic-controlled Senate feels more empowered to push its agenda while the president begins to think of his legacy. In light of these entrenched views, can across-the-board cuts and tax increases be avoided in January?
Of course it can. However, it will take a different kind of conversation and principled negotiation to move forward in the new Washington reality. Historically, Washington has been a place of competitive compromise. When a major decision loomed on the horizon, the different players would argue, accuse, threaten and pontificate until the 11th hour, and then agreement would be reached. This approach of establishing positions and giving in as little as possible until the last minute worked when both parties were interested in dancing this dance. (Perhaps, it will happen like that again. But, in the current political environment, one wonders about the ability of these bodies to agree on legislation of this magnitude.)
Beginning with the Contract for America in the 1990s, new reality began to develop in D.C. Ideologues began to be elected. At this moment, people are serving in both houses who were elected with the standard of “don’t give in.” For those on the right – “Don’t give in to big government and out of control spending.” For this group, the fiscal cliff can be avoided by cutting costs only. For those on the left – “Don’t give up the gains made in social justice and extending governmental services.” For this group, the primary way to address the economic problems is to raise taxes on the rich. In the meantime, the Government Accountability Office states that both tax increases and spending reductions are necessary to resolve our economic problems. Yet, compromise on principles seems weak and disingenuous to a segment of our political leaders.
But there is hope for a fresh start, but that fresh start will require a different commitment and spirit than exists today. Trent Lott, former majority leader of the Senate, said these politicians need to set aside their strongly held positions and “really learn how to listen to each other.” But it goes beyond listening. The two parties and the president must develop legislative recommendations based on consensus that takes shape through in-depth conversations. The president in particular will need to clarify his agenda, since he holds the strongest position of power in Washington at this moment, leaving room for the Republicans to make gains also. Upon this clarification by the president, an agenda should be set with a schedule for action that emanates from the White House. The president and his team must decide that drawing lines between themselves and the speaker of the House at university campuses won’t necessarily resolve the problem. Therefore, instead of attempting to force the competition into cooperation, the president must be ready to steer the conversation rather than dictate it.
However, Congress and the Senate will also need to step up to the plate. These Houses should stay in session and communicate with each other on a daily basis until a mutual plan is developed. The speaker of the House and majority leader of the Senate have to spend hours engaging each other in respectful dialogue until they are able to appreciate each others’ position and find ways to address each others’ interests.
In many ways, the House and Senate have abandoned their regular order of work and have depended too much on the media and party designates to communicate their messages. Both entities need to involve their committees and subcommittees in the hard work of hammering out legislation and quit depending on the top of the respective tickets to solve their problems for them. We all know that significant differences exist, but these differences require more communication, not less. Members of the House and Senate need to have conversations, mark up bills, confer with each other and eventually take final action by bringing both bodies together to vote on final passage and send it to the president to sign or veto.
In this substantial fight, we have forgotten that democracy is a process and this process will save us. As Lott said, “Both parties need to remember that the goal is a better future for this country”…not for their respective parties.
I recently visited with a long-time congressman and asked him about a mutual acquaintance from a different political party who serves with him in Congress. He replied, “He is a really nice guy and does some good work, but I think we can pick him off.”
We have a long way to go.
Please, trust the process of negotiation and compromise that have been the historical strengths of our two-party system.