Friday, October 22, 2010

Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Flu activity in the United States is low now, making this an excellent time to get a flu vaccine. This season, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated, even if they got a seasonal or 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the three flu viruses that CDC expects will cause the most illness in the United States this season.

Groups at high risk for developing flu-related complications

People who have certain medical conditions are also at high risk for developing flu-related complications:

  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater)

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated

There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

Where can you get a flu shot?

Adult Immunization & Travel Clinic: AITC is a non-profit, fee-for-service clinic that is part of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. AITC is committed to providing convenient, knowledgeable, personalized, and cost-effective immunization services for travelers, students, new employees, immigrants, and other members of the community. Information is available at

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Handle Home Emergencies

From the October 2010 issue of Consumer Reports on Health comes information on how to handle home emergencies.

Some of the highlights:
  • Cuts and scapes - Clean cuts with soap and running water, rather than alcohol, iodine, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Bleeding - Use pressure to stop bleeding, rather than elevating the affected area or applying chemical products designed to stem the flow of blood.
  • Burns - Ice can damage skin further; run cool water over the burn for 10-20 minutes to stop the burning process.
  • When to go to the hospital
  • What should be in your home first-aid kit and your car first-aid kit.
Read the entire article at the UCSF Patient Health Library.

Other resources:

When Should I Go to the Emergency Department?  [from the American College of Emergency Physicians]

First Aid & Safety  [from]

First-aid kits: Stock supplies that can save lives  [from the Mayo Clinic]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mood and Food

Do you eat when you're not hungry?  Here are some helpful hints regarding mood and food from the Mayo Clinic:

"You might be indulging as a response to stress or boredom. Pay attention to when you eat and how you're feeling. If you turn to comfort foods out of habit rather than hunger, try a new tact. Instead of opening a bag of potato chips or unwrapping a candy bar, take a walk or treat yourself to a movie. If stress seems to nudge you toward the refrigerator, find a distraction. Listen to music, read a book or chat with a friend."

UCSF resources on food, eating habits and nutrition:
  • Food and nutrition resources from the UCSF Library.
  • Learn how to establish healthy eating habits for your children from the UCSF Children's Hospital.
  • The UCSF Women's Health Resource Center offers women and their families the opportunity to learn about women's health issues that cross the life span — from adolescence to menopause and beyond. Services include:
    • A lending library with over 2000 women's health titles.
    • An extensive collection of patient education materials covering a wide variety of health topics.
    • Regular classes and workshops to give you an opportunity to learn about specific women's health issues and to talk to some of the leading researchers and physicians about your questions and concerns.
    • The Resource Center has linkages with many bay area programs to help you and your family. They maintain a community resources database with information on topics including nutrition, exercise and body image. 

UCSF Women's Health Resource Center
2356 Sutter Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-1750
Phone: 415.353.2668