It’s Time For Your Flu Shot

By Dr. Nikita Mathew, DO PGY1

“Every year, 10 to 40 million people are affected by the influenza virus, resulting in 140,000 to 960,000 hospitalizations annually.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As Halloween decorations come up and pumpkin spice lattes are around every corner, the other hallmark of fall also emerges—the flu vaccine. Symptoms typically include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • body aches

5 common questions about the flu vaccine

  1. Can I get the flu shot? Everyone over the age of 6 months is eligible for the flu vaccine. This includes special populations such as pregnant women, adults with chronic health conditions, and those over 65 years old. Exceptions to the flu vaccine are very limited, and include children less than 6 months old and those who had severe allergic reactions to the flu vaccine. You may have heard that those with egg allergies cannot get the flu shot, but the CDC recommends that these individuals still get the vaccine, but they may need to be monitored briefly afterward in a healthcare setting for allergic symptoms. There are also egg-free vaccines available.
  2. Why do I have to get the flu shot every year? The influenza virus changes year to year, so the flu vaccine you got last year likely will not protect you from the specific strain that is widespread this year. Researchers develop vaccines that will fight this year’s particular strain of the virus to maximize your protection. In addition, your immunity decreases over time so getting the vaccine annually helps build up your immunity again.
  3. When should I get the vaccine? The influenza virus is seasonal, typically starting in mid-October and peaking in winter. Your body will produce sufficient antibodies within two weeks after getting the vaccine. This is why the CDC recommends getting your flu shot sometime between September and late October. However, it’s never too late to get one, even past October. Flu shots will continue to be available well into winter and can protect you from the remainder of the flu season.
  4. Why do I feel like I have the flu after getting the shot? The flu vaccine contains an inactivated strain of the virus, meaning it cannot cause the flu but it does trigger your body’s immune response. This can result in body aches or a low-grade fever, but these symptoms are significantly less severe than those caused by the actual flu virus and resolve in 1-2 days, if present at all.
  5. How will the flu season be affected by COVID-19? Getting the flu shot is important every year, but especially this year in light of COVID-19. The pandemic has already stretched hospitals and healthcare resources pretty thin. Being vaccinated against the flu and reducing the risk of hospitalization is essential to help avoid an overlapping peak of influenza and coronavirus this winter. The flu shot will not make you more or less susceptible to COVID-19 since the viruses are completely separate.

Getting vaccinated not only helps protect you, but also helps protect your community and eases the burden on hospitals and the healthcare industry. Flu shots are currently available at NOAH clinics, so schedule an appointment today!

Tips for Kids During The Summer Months by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

“With summer temperatures usually exceeding 100 degrees, it’s safer to turn to indoor activities and keep kids out of the sun.”

Most families around the country are enjoying time outside engaging in fun summer activities. In the Arizona valley that seems almost impossible. Keeping our kids busy during the summer months can be challenging. Here are some low or no cost options for summer fun.

Indoor activities

  • DIY arts and crafts.
  • Board games/ card games.
  • Reading (consider audiobooks).
  • Puzzles.
  • Scavenger hunts.
  • YouTube videos to learn a new skill (consider cooking, yoga, painting).
  • Apps (find an age-appropriate app that encourages learning).
  • Remember, it only takes about 10 minutes of play to connect with your child. Consider making time to play with your child daily. Try to choose activities that match your child’s development and age.
  • Around the community.
  • Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
  • Local Public Libraries (most offer story time for younger kids as well as some classes/events for older children such as computer coding and college prep).
  • Arizona Science Center.
  • Local parks or pools.
  • Local sports (Minor League Baseball plays at 7:00PM throughout the valley from mid-June until early-September and it’s free to attend).
  • McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
  • Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park.
  • Local art/craft classes (City of Tempe hosts Free Art Friday for preschoolers and their parents).
  • Karate, gymnastics, or other types of classes available in the community.

Arizona has extreme temperatures during the summer. Here are some tips protect your child and family.

Sun and heat tips

  • Plan errands and recreational activities for the early morning and evening. Avoid being outside from 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun is the hottest. Consider starting each day with a morning walk or taking an evening bike ride.
  • Teach your children to wear shoes outside. The concrete or pavement can be hot enough to cause second-degree burns.
  • Check the temperature of buckles and car seats as they can reach the temperature of a hot skillet. Park in covered parking or under shade whenever possible or use a wind shield sunshade.
  • Keep water with you. Pack extra bottles in the car in case of an emergency.
  • Wear sunscreen. Make sunscreen part of your morning routine. Lather up your kids before dressing them to ensure they’re protected, even if you’re not around water.

Summer doesn’t have to be boring. Feel free to ask any of our NOAH providers for suggestions on summer activities in your community and how to stay safe in the heat.

Summer Fun – Pool Safety Tips by Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

Swimming is a great way to beat the summer heat here in Arizona, and is a fun activity for children to pass the summer by. Drowning is the third most common cause of unintentional – injury related deaths. The highest at risk are children ages 1-4 years old (drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children ages 1-4). As such, we here at NOAH wanted to share some important water safety tips!

  • Never leave children alone, even for a moment, in or near pool areas or other bodies of water (lakes, beaches, and even bathtubs or buckets of water)!
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet tall around the pool, which should ideally surround the pool on all 4 sides and completely separated the pool from your home and yard. It should not have any gaps that a small child could slip over, under, or through. The gate should be a self-closing and self-latching gate that cannot be opened / reached by a small child.
  • Newer technology offers alarms, both for the gate and within the pool, that can alert you to anyone around the pool.
  • When any inexperienced swimmer is around the pool area, make sure there is a designated adult for supervision. This adult should not be under the influence, should not have any distractions (cell phone turned off or handed off to another adult), and preferably knows how to swim and perform CPR.
  • Keep rescue equipment such as a shepherd’s hook and a life preserver to reach / throw for rescues.
  • Avoid inflatable swim aids such as floaties, as they are not a substitution for proper life-preserving equipment such as life jackets.
  • Consider swim lessons for your child if over the age of 1, as it may reduce the risk of drowning. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your child’s developmental readiness to take swim lessons.
  • Talk to your pool operator to make sure your pool / spa and its drains are compliant with the pool and spa safety act.
  • Be safe and have a fun-filled summer!

At NOAH, we want to make sure that you have the proper tools, education and resources to protect you and your family while swimming.

Summer Fun – Sun Safety Tips by Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

There’s nothing better than having fun outdoors during school vacations. However, especially during summer here in Arizona, we here at NOAH want to remind everyone of some sun safety tips to keep protected while having some outdoor fun.

Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

Protecting yourself and your children from harmful ultraviolet light exposure is important to prevent melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, which often strikes those who have been severely sunburned, especially during infancy and childhood.

The first line of defense against the scorching summer sun is proper clothing and keeping in the shade.

  • Try to limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours between 10am and 4pm.
  • Take frequent shade breaks if staying out in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Cotton clothing is protective and can also help whisk away moisture to keep you cool while playing outside. Pick tightly woven fabrics for best protection.
  • Wear a hat: wide brimmed for best protection of your child’s entire face, including the nose, cheeks, chin, ears, and back of the neck.
  • Get your children sunglasses with UV protection. Those from the dollar store, Walmart, Walgreen’s, or similar stores are nice, economical options that can be easily replaced if they break or get lost, as long as they’re labeled as having UV protection.
  • Protect your children with a sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or greater. SPF 15 or 30 should be sufficient for most common uses. Apply this to all areas not covered by clothing. Don’t forget the ears, back of the neck, arms, and legs. Carefully apply around the eyes, avoiding eyelids.
  • Choose a sunscreen that has the words “Broad Spectrum” on it – that will cover both UVA and UVB rays. Try to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone that may have hormonal properties.
  • Before applying sunscreen for the first time, test a small amount on your child’s back for an allergic reaction.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, as it can take this long to become active.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 1 hour.
  • If playing in the water, reapply sunscreen every half an hour, and use a waterproof sunscreen.
  • For infants less than 6 months old, avoid direct sun exposure – keep them under shade with a canopy or under a tree. Use wide brimmed hats to help cover their face, ears, and neck. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs as well. If this is not available, apply small amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 to your baby’s face, hands, and legs.
  • Don’t forget to use sun protection even on cloudy days, as the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can even come through clouds.

Contact your pediatrician if you develop a sunburn, rash, or blistering.
For more information: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Sun-Safety.aspx

Asthma Awareness in Children by Dr. Patricia Avila, Pediatrician

“Asthma in children is one of the most common long term (chronic) diseases. It is estimated to affect 1 in every 10 children in the US. If your child has Asthma one of the most important things you must do is to learn as much as you can about Asthma. Being educated about your child’s Asthma will help you work together with your child’s doctor to control their Asthma and have the absolute best outcome.”

Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

What is Asthma?

  1. It is a disease of the lungs that causes the airways or tubes that bring air into the lungs to become swollen and inflamed. The muscles around the airways become tight and it makes it hard to breath. This leads to episodes of coughing, wheezing, feeling breathless, chest pain/chest tightness, and feeling more tired than usual.
  2. It is more common in children where there is a parent or sibling or close relative with Asthma, Allergies, and/or Eczema. Children with Asthma often develop Allergies or Eczema as well. These are sometimes present before they develop Asthma.
  3. There is no cure for Asthma. There are medications and things you as a parent/caregiver can do to help control it. Know what the signs/symptoms of Asthma are, how to avoid triggers, and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This is especially important to prevent and decrease the damage to your child’s lungs. It will also help avoid your child needing emergency medical treatment.

What causes an Asthma Attack?

  • An Asthma attack happens when your child is exposed to “triggers” things that cause your child’s Asthma to get worse.
  • An Asthma attack also happens when a child does not take their medications as prescribed.

Common triggers include:

  • Allergens – including outdoor allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.
  • Infections – including the common cold, the flu, sinus infections, and pneumonias.
  • Irritants – including cigarette smoke or other smoke, pollution, strong odors like perfumes or scented candles, and cleaning products.
  • Changes in weather – cold and dry, very humid, or extremely hot weather.
  • Exercise.
  • Stress and strong emotions.

How can you help control your child’s Asthma and how is it treated? Avoid triggers. It may not be possible to completely avoid all possible triggers, but there are some changes you can make that will help.

  • Allergens. Have your child take their allergy medications during allergy season. Keep windows and doors shut during allergy season. Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.
  • Dust mites. Use mattresses and pillow covers. Vacuum and dust regularly. Wash bedding once a week. Limit and wash stuffed animals.
  • Furry pets. Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. Wash pets more often.
  • Use HEPA filters.
  • Fix any water leaks that could lead to mold.
  • Infections. Make sure your child and family receive their yearly Flu vaccine. Having Asthma increases your child’s risk for severe Flu illness that can trigger an Asthma attack.
  • Use good hand hygiene.
  • Irritants. Do NOT allow anyone to smoke in your home or car. Avoid public places where smoking is allowed. Avoid use of perfumes, scented candles, incense, paints, and cleaning supplies that can irritate your child’s lungs. Check your local forecast for air quality and keep your child indoors when the pollution is bad.
  • Weather. Avoid outdoor activities in extreme weather conditions.
  • Exercise. If your child’s Asthma is triggered by exercise have your child take his/her Albuterol 15-30 minutes prior to activity to prevent these symptoms. Encourage your child to exercise and participate in sports. Know what medications help control his/her Asthma so that they can continue to be active.
  • Medications. Includes inhaled medications in the form of MDIs also known as inhalers or “pumps” and nebulizers that are given by a machine. Rescue or quick relief medications like Albuterol help during an Asthma attack. They help open the airways or tubes that bring air to the lungs. Long term controller medications like inhaled corticosteroids help improve the inflammation of the lungs. When these medications are used daily your child is less likely to have an Asthma attack.

Develop an Asthma Action Plan.

This plan is made with the help of your child’s doctor. It will help you and your child know what medications to use and when. It will also help you and your child know what to do in the case of an emergency. Share this plan with the school as well. It is important, because your child spends a good amount of time there and the school will know exactly what to do to help your child.

By becoming knowledgeable about your child’s Asthma, avoiding triggers, and following a good Asthma Action Plan you are taking important steps in keeping your child healthy. Have your child see his/her doctor at least 2 times per year to make sure their Asthma is under control. Do not forget to make sure your child and family receive a yearly Flu vaccine. Your child should be able to enjoy everyday activities and participate in sports without any problems breathing if their Asthma is under control.

Safe Practice When Entering a Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Your home:

  • Home entry doors should have hand sanitizer available for everyone who enters the home
  • If you have older family members living at your home – discuss having them use a separate entry if possible and isolate if needed from high volume areas
  • If family members were with larger groups – change clothes near the entryway and clean area
  • Discuss the CDC home base actions recommendations

Visiting a home:

  • Call ahead to make sure they are expecting visitors
  • Let them know if you are not ill
  • Make sure they are not ill or been around someone possibly ill
  • Ask about having hand sanitizer or any other precautions at their home’s entry
  • Ask if it would be better to delay your visit

From the CDC:

Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions

Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html

Sleep Hygiene Tips by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

“Sleep Hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits,” says Katelyn Millinor. Considerable research has gone into developing a set of guidelines and tips which are designed to improve sleep. There are many medications which can help sleep disturbance but these tend to be effective in the short-term. Talk to your health care professional about what is right for you but we recommend good sleep hygiene as an important factor in treatment of sleeping difficulties.

Try some of our tips below:

  • Get up at the same time every day. One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even on the weekends). This regular rhythm will help you feel better and help to set your biological clock.
  • Exercise – get moving. Regular exercise is a good idea to help with sleep. Exercise makes it easier to initiate sleep and deepen sleep. Avoid exercising 3-4 hours before bed time. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed.
  • Don’t lay in bed awake. Get up and try again. If you have not been able to fall asleep after about 15-20 minutes, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy again (in another room if possible). Sit quietly on the couch, read something.
  • Limit light. Avoid turning on overhead lights or lamps. Avoid utilizing screen-time on cell phones, computers, or televisions as blue light from these devices impact sleep.
  • Avoid clock watching. Many people who struggle with sleep often watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock can wake you up more and reinforce negative thoughts.
  • Eat Regularly. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well but timing is important. Do not go to bed hungry as hunger may disturb sleep. A heavy meal before bed may also disturb sleep so a light snack can help. Avoid greasy or heavy foods near bedtime.
  • Bed is for sleeping. Use your bed only for sleeping and sexual activity. This helps condition body and brain. Avoid watching television, eating, or working in bed.
  • No naps. It is best to avoid taking a nap during the day to make sure you are tired at bedtime. If you must take a nap, make sure it is only for 20-60 minutes and is 6-7 hours or more before bedtime (usually no naps after 3:00PM).
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It is best to avoid these things 4-6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as a stimulant and interfere with the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Avoid excess liquids in the evening. Reducing liquid intake will minimize night-time trips to the bathroom.
  • The right environment. It is important that your bed and bedroom are comfortable for sleeping. A cool, quiet, and dark environment is best. This will reduce the likelihood of waking up later during the night.
  • Bath time. Having a hot shower or bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be helpful and relaxing.
  • Sleep rituals. Having a routine prior to bedtime can prepare the body and mind for sleep. You can develop your own ritual of things such as stretching, baths, or breathing exercises.
  • Keep daytime routines the same. Even if you had a bad night sleep and are tired it is important to try to keep daytime activities the same. If you avoid planned activities this can reinforce your sleep disturbance.

As always, if you are trying these tips with little or no success, give your provider at call at NOAH and we’ll gladly meet with you to discuss options in achieving a good night’s rest. At NOAH, we’ll work with you and your child to choose the best path for their overall health and wellness.

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