In the internet age, it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially on medical matters. Internet Warriers create swathes of misinformation for their own inexplicable reasons and this information is carried forward as 'fact'. The Anti-vaxxer movement has caused huge amounts of damage to the nations health and wellbeing by loudly pronouncing their conspiracy theories and medically inaccurate 'facts'
As doctors, our only priority is YOU and your health. Here are 10 reasons why we think you should book your flu vaccine today.
1. A COLD IS NOT THE FLU
I can't stress this enough. Colds and Flu are different illnesses caused by different viruses. if you have been in bed for a few days feeling miserable then bounce back, it is not the flu. Flu is a serious illness that will keep you in bed for a few weeks and may take over a month to recover from.
2. FLU IS VERY CONTAGIOUS
The flu virus is spread by droplets or particles in the air, can spread over 6 feet and is active for several days on surfaces that it lands on. That means that if someone is three rows away from you on the bus, you are at risk. Touching any surface in a public area that has been touched by someone with the flu can spread the virus - so touching door-handles, surfaces, toys, taps etc all cause spread. Flu can be infectious from the day before symptoms arise, so people might not realise that they are infecting others.
3. FLU CAN'T BE TREATED WITH ANTIBIOTICS
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Flu is a viral infection and as such, antibiotics have NO effect on the severity or longevity of illness. If someone has a confirmed case of flu, they are occasionally offered an anti-viral medication, but these are of limited benefit.
4. FLU CAN LEAD TO SERIOUS MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS
Such as pneumonia, adult respiratory distress syndrome and death.
In the recent Australian flu epidemic, there were reports of healthy young adults having pus-filled lungs.
5. FLU IS NOT AGEIST
Clearly the elderly and very young are always more vulnerable to infectious diseases, however flu can hit previously healthy young adults with devastating consequences. Every year, healthy adults end up in ITU with serious consequences of flu. Its possible that this is because the elderly population may have already encountered various flu viruses in their lifetimes, but young adults may have never been unexposed.
6. MELBOURNE FLU IS PREDICTED THIS WINTER
Australia has just had its worst flu epidemic since records began. The Melbourne flu virus seems to be particularly infectious and people became much, much sicker than in previous years.
7. FOREIGN TRAVEL MEANS RAPID TRANSMISSION
Where previously, flu would travel slowly between villages, air travel and tourism can cause small outbreaks to become global pandemics, such as happened with the Swine flu outbreak from south America.
8. LAST YEARS VACCINE MIGHT NOT BE ENOUGH PROTECTION
Every year, medical researchers need to survey global flu activity and predict which flu viruses will be most active, and include those in the annual vaccine. On top of that, the flu virus changes shape every year to try to evade detection. This is called viral shift and drift. There is a good chance that the virus will have changed shape since you were last vaccinated; and last years vaccine didn't include protection against Melbourne flu
9. PROTECT YOUR COMMUNITY AND FAMILY
Even if you think you are healthy enough to cope with the flu ( and you might not be - see point 5), there are members of the community who are too frail or ill to survive a bout of flu. If you work with the elderly, children, or in a healthcare setting, you have a moral obligation to protect your patients. If enough people are vaccinated, then herd immunity is formed and the virus has nowhere to spread to and dies out.
10. YOU CAN'T GET THE FLU FROM THE FLU INJECTION
Its biologically impossible. The flu vaccine is made from a small portion of the outer shell of the flu ( the antigens) or from a deactivated virus therefore there is NO LIVE VIRUS available to create disease. Some people might feel achy or feverish after the vaccine. This is a transient immune response, but it is NOT the flu. The only way you can get the flu straight after a vaccine is if you were already infected and were going to get it anyway.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLU?
1. Get you and your family Vaccinated. This is the best protection available
2. Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
3. WASH your hands if you have been out in public, on buses or in shops. Hand washing with soap and water saves lives in hospitals and can protect you and your family too. Carry hand sanitizer if you are eating in public.
4. The Queen always wears gloves in public to prevent picking up germs whilst shaking hands. Be like the Queen and wear gloves if its practical.
5. Try to avoid touching your face. Its a habit that we all have, but if you have picked up a virus on your hands, then you will transfer it to your airways if you touch your face.
6. Don't go outside if you are unwell. Stay off work and away from public areas until you are better. If you need to see the doctor, ask them to make a home visit to prevent spreading infection to the waiting room
7. Teach good cough etiquette. Covering your mouth when coughing and disposing of handkerchiefs after sneezing significantly reduces viral spread.
Flu is a killer disease. Please don't let fear and misinformation prevent you from protecting yourself and your family. Book your vaccine today.
In our next article about vaccines, we will be debunking common myths spread by anti-vaxxers, including Mercury, Autism and Formaldehyde
by Dr Heather Robertson
In Gibraltar, we are very lucky to have weather that allows us to wear flip-flops or sandals for most of the year. This feels liberating, but considering that most foot problems are worsened by summer shoes, this comes with a range of health problems for your feet.
Sandals, flip flops and ballet flats, whilst pretty, offer almost no arch support for your feet. This can exacerbate problems such as over pronation, shin splints and collapsed arches - AKA the dreaded 'flat feet'. Not only are these problems unsightly, they can lead to joint pains and straining of knees and hips.
Wearing open shoes can lead to a build up of hard skin (callous) and makes toes more vulnerable to injury. Feet are exposed to germs from the street, which can lead to infections if the skin is broken.
So what is the best way to care for your tootsies? Varying your footwear and alternating shoes every day or so allows feet to have variation in pressure points and keeps shoes fresher. Everyone should have a daily foot routine of washing, carefully drying between the toes and applying moisturiser to dry skin. Diabetic patients should check daily around the feet and between the toes for signs of skin damage. Keeping nails trimmed, and cut straight across can help avoid ingrowing toenails. Patients with diabetes or sensory neurological problems of the legs need to take particular care of their feet, and should already be having annual foot-checks. They should NEVER cut their own toenails.
Many people need more intensive treatment than can be done at home, so have professional foot treatments. These may be provided a beautician or a podiatrist.
Beauty salons offer pedicures of varying degrees of luxury and should be considered as a pampering treatment rather than heavy duty foot repair. They typically involve a foot soak, gentle scrub, superficial exfoliation and application of cream before cuticles are trimmed and nail varnish is applied. These relaxing treatments will keep your feet looking pretty and can remove a small amount of dry skin. However they are unable to tackle any significant calluses or other foot problems, and are not suitable for those with certain medical conditions. They may cause harm to patients with diabetic feet because even the smallest skin break or burn from hot water could lead to catastrophic, non healing infections in the feet.
To really care for your feet, a trip to the podiatrist/chiropodist is in a different league. No longer the reserve of the older generation, podiatry offers a ‘medical pedicure' which is a superpowered pedicure capable of restoring the most unpleasant of trotters and transforming them into glorious things of beauty. A medi-pedi involves medical assessment, surgical excision of dry skin using blades and drills, nail assessment and care, application of nourishing foot cream and overall foot health examination. This is then topped off by an application of medical nail polish which unlike traditional nail varnishes, actively improves the health of your toenails! Podiatrists are experts in all things foot related and can assess and treat ingrowing toenails, bunions, calluses, collapsed arches and gait problems. Treatments are carried out by medical professionals in a safe and sterile environment. The results of this are far superior to and will by far outlast those of a standard pedicure.
It’s worth mentioning that Pedicures are one of the most common ways to spread fungal infections, warts and veruccae. Beauticians use a variety of methods of cleaning equipment and some may be inadequate to prevent cross infection. Don’t be scared to ask before embarking upon treatment because all good beauticians will be happy to discuss their infection control policies. Podiatrists always use disposable blades and all other equipment is autoclaved to ensure 100% sterilisation; so you can be confident that your feet will be happy and healthy.
As a doctor, I would always recommend that diabetic patients choose a podiatrist over a beautician for pedicures. Actually, scratch that - I think everyone should give it a try.
JG Podiatry, Ocean Medical Clinic, Gibraltar www.jgpodiatrist.com
The Foot Medic, Bearsden, Glasgow. www.foot-medic.co.uk
Margaret Dabbs, Marylebone, London www.margaretdabbs.co.uk
by Dr Heather Robertson
We are a brand new boutique medical clinic in Gibraltar, specialising in general medicine and medical aesthetics.
We are are group of young and dynamic senior doctors from the UK committed to providing first class, British standard treatments.
All of our treatments are bespoke to your needs, and each treatment is only carried out by the best doctor for the job. We provide a range of aesthetic and skin health treatments and specialise in problematic skin. We also sell a wide range of medical skincare products and lifestyle accessories.
We will be blogging about topics including product and treatment reviews, medical issues and lifestyle.
If you would like to be a guest blogger or have topics you would like us to cover, feel free to contact us! We would love to hear from you.