I’m allergic to the flu shot, for real. I had Gillum Barre from it. What can I do?

Guillian-Barre syndrome is a rare disease in which a person’s own immune system “fights” its own nerve cells, causing weakness of the muscles and in some cases paralysis. Its cause is poorly understood but typically occurs after a bacterial or viral infection.

Most people recover fully as their symptoms usually last for a few weeks.  The data on the direct relationship between Guillian-Barre syndrome and the flu vaccine is still quite variable and inconsistent per the CDC. (first described in a specific vaccine given in 1976).

But the CDC has reported that it is more than likely the flu virus itself would case the Guillian-Barre syndrome than the flu vaccine. And if there is a small relationship its in the order of 1-2 per /million doses given. But this is carefully tracked by the CDC.

So it will be important for you and your doctor to have a serious conversation and review you medical history to investigate if there are other medical reasons (compromised immune system, elderly, etc.) that would necessitate you being protected with the vaccine due to your history.

I am 69. I got the flu shot last year for first time. I had to fight off flu symptoms twice afterwards. What gives?

Specific age groups are at increased risk for serious complications and even death from the flu, specially the very young and those over the age of 65.  It was extremely important that you received the vaccine, but keep in mind its still possible that you were exposed to a different strain of the virus that may have been contained in the vaccine that you received. But the flu vaccine is still shown to decrease the severity of the flu as well as hospitalizations.

If antibiotics are not effective for the flu why do doctors prescribe the Z-pac? Isn’t that an antibiotic?

Yes the Z-pac is an antibiotic, but they should only used for bacteria because they have no activity against viruses. Bacteria survives and replicates itself in a different fashion then viruses, so we take advantage of that by using antibiotic to attack these specific areas to target in bacteria.

Years ago in medicine we would prescribe antibiotics until newer research showed we may be doing more harm than good for our patients. We now know that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance, leading to bacteria that no longer respond to the “killing effects” of the antibiotics we used to typically prescribe.

How can you tell if you have a cold or if it’s just my sinuses?

The flu comes on abruptly, usually with a fever and with body aches being more common, as well as headaches. The common cold usually comes on gradually, rarely has a fever or severe body aches.

Now if you have an infection in your sinuses that typically presents with facial pain or tenderness, nasal congestion, headache and thick yellow or green mucous from the nose. If these symptoms develop, its important to see your physician as soon possible.

My son is 3. I’m skeptical about the flu shot, but he is in daycare around other kids. Should I get him the shot?

The flu vaccine is extremely important for our children. Its even more important in areas where kids are in close quarters like daycares. As I mentioned during the flu season of 2017-2018, there were 185 pediatric deaths, and over 80% of them were not vaccinated.

So we know the vaccine can save lives, and depending on any other medical conditions your child may have, its important to speak with your doctor to make sure he is good candidate. But most children are able to receive the vaccine.

Hi I’ve had swollen lymph nodes on my neck for about 3 weeks is that cold related???

Swelling of the lymph nodes are commonly a a sign that you are coming down with a viral or bacterial illness, but it can also be due to other medical conditions. For this reason I would make sure you follow up with your doctor for a thorough evaluation.

I had the flu in October and since then I have had a cough(dry). Went to the doc and was given Tesla Pearls. They have not helped. Could this be pneumonia?

Pneumonia is always a possibility after having the flu, as it’s the most common and serious complication. But the symptoms of pneumonia are quite specific and include fever, chills, phlegm production and difficulty breathing. If this is the case, you should be evaluated by a doctor.

More commonly, when we have a chronic cough well after a cold, that has not responded to conventional therapy its due to post-nasal drip. I prefer more natural ways to remedy this, such as trying the neti pot, which is quite effective and can be used safely.

I’m a 47-year-old African American wonder and rarely get sick (Thank God). I’ve never had the flu shot. My motto is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Am I OK in this thinking? I see so many people get sick after getting the shot.

A am very happy to hear that you have been healthy! But don’t forget the old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.For my patients who feel the same way and prefer other options should they come down with flu-like symptoms, I tell them about Oscillococcinum.

It’s a homeopathic remedy that has been shown in studies to decrease the severity of flu-like symptoms when taken within the first 48h hours. Its also safe for children 2 years. or older and doesn’t cause any drowsiness or interact with any other medications..

How do you know when your symptoms have turned into pneumonia?

Pneumonia is always a possibility after having the flu, as it’s the most common and serious complication. But the symptoms of pneumonia are quite specific and include fever, chills, phlegm production and difficulty breathing. If this is the case, you should be seen for evaluation.

When is it too late to get the flu shot?

The flu season typically runs from October to May and peaks in December to February. So its even possible to get a flu vaccine as late as January and still get its benefits. Keep in mind it can take up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective.

What is your opinion about those over 55 NOT taking the flu shot? I have always gotten sick after taking it.

The flu vaccine (injectable) is an inactivated virus and therefore not living, so will not give you the flu. But you can have some tenderness at the site where it was given and some people have a systemic reaction such as chills, as your body starts to mount a response of making antibodies should it see the flu virus.

What is the best remedy for a persistent cough after a cold that was hard to get rid of?

Its important to get as much rest as possible as the immune system and our sleep are closely related. The CDC states we should get 7 ½ hrs per day. Its equally important that you stay adequately hydrated, to help thin your secretions likely causing your cough. Should it persist for over a week, you should be evaluated by your physician.

Why do we have to get the vaccination every year? Does it wear off? 

The flu virus is constantly mutating even throughout the season. So each year we look at other areas of the world and are able to predict which strains will likely invade the United States, and we do our best to produce a vaccine that accurately matches those strains.

But as I mentioned, it’s a virus that is able to mutate (change) quite often and rapidly, so the CDC monitors these changes or shifts should they occur. But we know the vaccines we do currently have can still save lives. There is currently a large amount of research being done to find a universal flu vaccine, hopefully its not too far in the future.

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