Detoxification and Medically Managed Withdrawal

Detoxification and Medically Managed Withdrawal

Charles Brown No Comments
Detoxification and Withdrawal

Most addiction treatment starts with detoxification and medically managed withdrawal, and is often considered the first stage of treatment. Detoxification, the process by which the body clears itself of drugs, is designed to manage the acute and potentially dangerous physiological effects of stopping drug use.

As stated previously, detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment.


Drug addiction is a chronic, often relapsing illness rather than an acute illness as is obvious from its severe side effects.  Side effects can vary from mental to physical and can have both medical and behavioral aspects.  Addicts who suffer from addiction generally start with alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs.  A comprehensive assessment of the prognosis of addiction and the procedure needed to reverse the illness cannot be complete without a complete drug history.  The history may include:

  • Addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs and/or an increase in use
  • The development of liver failure or disease of the liver
  • Substance abuse beyond the recommended dose or tolerance
  • Dependency to medications to avoid a recreational opiate use once withdrawal is identified
  • Abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs at an early age
  • Aspiration/breathing difficulties, etc.
Detoxification from alcohol and drugs

A prior detoxification has been described as someone who has entered treatment and become completely clean before, or someone who has successfully ceased drug use for a minimum of 30 days.  The patient who once adopted an alcohol, illegal drug, or prescription drug regime (in this case heroin) and has established and maintained abstinence for one or more months or more is a prime candidate for “start up” drug treatment. 

This treatment is a detoxification as the name implies and the patient will be provided with medications and therapies to manage their withdrawals.  Detoxification sessions also go hand in hand with drug therapy sessions including abstinence counseling, psychotherapy, education, and/or physical exercises.  Normally detoxification is a combination of more than one process and therapy at a time, but it may be the only comprehensive strategy to effectively confront serious addictions and to bolster the recovery process.

Drug addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications, is treated through a step-by-step process, combining behavioral skills with medically managed withdrawal.  Often, medication is also used in the process as a part of the overall treatment.  Normally the person is detoxified only once.

Counseling and Detox for Medically Managed Withdrawal

Detoxification treatments can vary greatly, often dependent on the length of response and severity of underlying diseases.  The frequency, duration, approach, length of drug therapy, and clinical requirements of each kind of drug are incorporated and may vary.  The path to sobriety and maintaining it varies, depending on what was taken. An initial detoxification may be followed by a longer than usual drug therapy, and/or abstinence process that enables patients to proceed to their formal drug treatment process in the most efficient way possible. 

The drug therapy is a combination of structured and non-structured drug therapy, education on adverse effects of the drug use, and most of all, treatment with the most important focus of aversion and prevention.  Each person’s subsequent drug therapy should be related in some way to the most immediate adverse effects, or the greatest hope of beneficial responses. 

The drug therapy process should progress in such a way that the patient’s level of dependence on the drug is reduced, improved, or eliminated. A clear support system is a much needed part of recovery process, as it may be hard at times to continue withdrawal. Alcohol drug addicts may require detoxification and may use certain types of alcohol, but alcohol abuse should not be used as an excuse for continued abuse of the drug.

Drug addiction, not curing it, is the key to most, if not all, of the drug treatment durations and lengths of time.  The ultimate goal of drug treatment shouldn’t be permanent abstinence, but rather the elimination of the pattern of binging.  Most drug treatment and recovery facilities are committed to curing addiction rather than treating it once and for all. 

This is usually associated with an attempt to maximize the effects of the drug.  Studies continue to result in new clinical developments that are showing these theories to be incorrect and ineffective.  Treatment solves the problems associated with drug use, but the problems of underlying causes should always be addressed. 

Curing addiction through detoxification

Underestimating, urbanization, or misapplication of drug treatment may result in abuse and addiction for the patient, or cause long-term effects and dependency on the drug for future patients.  The goal of drug treatment is to maximize the drug use for the amount of time necessary to achieve treatment goals. 

The recommended dosages range from 4 to 8 grains per day for a female patient between the ages of 17 and 21, and from 4 to 8 grains per day for a male patient in the same age bracket.  Healthful dietary choices, exercise, relaxation, and family assistance, can also help to ensure the safety of patients during recovery.

Narcotic Discomfort Relief

Charles Brown No Comments
narcotic pain

Narcotic Discomfort Relief

Narcotic Pain Relief:

Addiction Risk and Medication.  The wave of news about the apparent epidemic of prescription drug dependency might provide the impression that these drugs are so irresistibly powerful that, earlier or later on, we will all end up either getting hooked, or getting paranoid from inflated worry of addiction.

While narcotic discomfort relief is tagged to be the proverbial poison that is marketed to unwary elderly people, both medical professionals and patients experiencing chronic discomfort are left in the middle of an issue: the requirement for discomfort relief drugs to relieve struggling with severe and incapacitating discomfort, and the overstated fear of addiction risks that feature effective painkillers.

Narcotic discomfort relief is used to relieve pain triggered by chronic disease, surgery, mishap or injury. They act on specific receptors in the brain and spine cable to reduce pain and minimize your emotional response to pain. Prescription drug addiction, particularly narcotic painkillers, can really be ravaging and may result in destroying lives.

Many professionals, however, thought that this inflated fears of addiction is depriving a great deal of patients in desperate conditions from getting the pain relievers they so terribly needed. Additionally, the threats of narcotic pain relief by far exceeds its benefits.

Over the years, prescription drug dependency has actually been a growing issue. The 3 primary classes of prescriptions drugs being abused are: Opioid narcotics – used to deal with pain or relieve coughs or diarrhea. Opioid narcotics connect to opioid receptors in the central nerve system (the brain and the spine cable), avoiding the brain from getting pain messages.

Depressants – utilized to treat stress and anxiety, stress, anxiety attack, and sleep conditions. Depressants slow down brain activity by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA. The result is a drowsy or soothing impact.

 Stimulants – used to deal with conditions like narcolepsy, ADHD, depression, obesity, and asthma. Stimulants increase brain activity, leading to greater awareness, attention, and energy. However, while there has been a development in the variety of people abusing narcotic discomfort reliefs, a much higher increase in the variety of individuals who are utilizing the drugs properly and taking advantage of them.

Experts think that it’s not just the drug that causes an addiction. It develops from a variety of physiological, psychological, and social factors. Most individuals who have neck and back pain are not at risk of prescription drug dependency for a variety of reasons. In the first place, majority of individuals with neck and back pain never ever get prescribed possibly addictive painkillers. Going through medically managed withdrawal can help get to the root of the problem.

Opioids For Pain

While steroids can also be prescribed for discomfort due to swelling and swelling, steroids are not narcotics either. Nevertheless, these powerful drugs should be utilized with care. Patients with sharp pain may be treated with opioid narcotics for a really short time, frequently a couple of weeks or a month, that is why the risks of prescription drug addiction is far from being high. Even the most effective drugs can not be addictive when utilized that way.

Narcotic discomfort relief is meant to ease discomfort right away and allow people to obtain out of bed, start physical treatment, and change the habits that triggered their back pain in the first place.

Without painkillers, the very first action could simply be too painful.However, in spite of an excellent treatment, some chronic neck and back pain may not react to the method. Usually, clients develop numerous issues with the spinal column brought about by arthritis or a history of heavy labor that can not be corrected by surgery.

When people don’t react to one or two surgeries, they are more likely to establish persistent pain that are too hard to treat. This little population of people who have persistent discomfort and hard-to-treat issues are typically provided long-term opioid narcotics, and these are the ones who are susceptible to prescription drug dependency.

The Most Commonly Abused Drugs

Charles Brown No Comments
drug abuse

Commonly Abused Drugs

Drug abuse is a huge issue in the United States. There are an estimated over 20 million Americans, aged 12 and over, with a substance abuse problem.  Millions of people struggle to maintain sobriety from these drugs.  Families struggle with helping their loves ones with addiction on a constant basis. 

Unfortunately, there are many different types of drugs that Americans are addicted to. Just a few of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, other than alcohol and tobacco, are listed here.

  • Marijuana: the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. Many states are actually legalizing the use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, pot, weed, or grass. Made from the Cannabis sativa plant, marijuana is most commonly smoked, though it can also be eaten (usually cooked into different foods). The effects of marijuana include relaxation, impaired coordination, memory loss, feelings of euphoria. Though not considered to be addictive, people can become addicted to the act of smoking marijuana. It’s also considered a gateway drug to harder substances.
  • Cocaine: though decreased in popularity in recent years, cocaine has been near the top of the list for decade. Also known as crack, coke, or snow, cocaine can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed. The effects are increased alertness, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, and pleasure, though the intensity and duration of the high depends on how it is taken.  Cocaine use is associate with heart problems, as well as brain, kidney, and lung damage. Crack cocaine is a cheaper and more intense alternative to cocaine.
  • Painkillers and Benzodiazepines: painkillers, often prescribed for pain after injury or surgery, are very easy to become addicted to. These are drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and codeine and many patients don’t realize they’ve become addicted to painkillers. Benzodiazepines, or ‘benzos,’ are prescribed mood-regulating drugs, such as Valium, Xanax, and Diazepam. Like painkillers, users often don’t realize they’ve become addicted to the benzodiazepines.
  • Heroin: increasing in popularity, the effects of heroin can be slowed breathing, pleasure, and drowsiness. Heroin use can cause serious withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting, aches, and confusion, which can easily lead to overdose if a person takes too much. Heroin is typically injected, which is also problematic if using dirty needles.
  • Methamphetamine: also called meth, crank, speed, and crystal, methamphetamine use is increasing over the years. Typically injected, snorted, smoked, or eaten, methamphetamine is a stimulant that shares many effects with cocaine. There are many withdrawal symptoms, like depression and cramps, and long term use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, heart damage, and damage to the teeth. Withdrawal that is medically managed can help the user deal with the symptoms.

Helping Loved Ones With Addiction

Charles Brown No Comments
helping a loved one with addiction

Helping Loved Ones With Addiction

There many effective ways to love someone in your life who has an addiction, but typically it’s not going to be easy. First of all, do not blame yourself. And right alongside that, it is extremely important to remember that while you’re trying to help the person with an addiction, you cannot forget to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.

Who Is to Blame?

So you aren’t blaming yourself—but you can’t blame them either. Addiction is a physical and psychological change within a person, and oftentimes they have little control over or understanding of their actions. Their body is addicted to certain drugs or alcohol (or even food, exercise, sex, gambling, etc.) and their judgement is impaired.  Those who struggle with addiction are often very good at manipulating those around them so they can get their next fix.

Enabling Your Loved One

overcoming addiction Don’t enable the loved one with an addiction, make sure that what you do is helpful. Obviously lending money to someone with a drug addiction is likely to lead the person to just buy more drugs, feed their habit. And there are some things that may feel helpful, but actually aren’t—like giving the person food or a place to stay. Set certain boundaries for your addicted loved one. Show them that you care, that you love and support them and you’ll be there for them when they need it. But you have to have a certain amount of tough love. Do not be afraid to say ‘no.’ At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do for them.

Life Long Sobriety is the Goal

Don’t feel like they’re going to be cured of their addiction in a day. Lasting sobriety a life-long battle, and the first step in that battle is for the person to want to get better. No matter how hard you want for them, the addict has to be the one to take the first step. But you can be there for your loved one and guide them toward that step, let them know that they have love and support.  


Helping a Loved One Overcome Addiction

Rehab for Alcohol – Does It Work?

Charles Brown No Comments
alcohol addiction

Alcohol Rehab: What Should You Expect as Someone Who is Going In

Alcohol rehab is an excellent way to kick alcoholism. That said, rehab doesn’t always work; in fact many people fail the first or even second time. The key to success when it comes to rehab is commitment to quitting the habit. Many people go into alcohol rehab not because they want to or are looking to kick the habit but because someone who is close to them is making them do it. If this is the reason that you are going in you should know that your chances of failure are very high. If you want this treatment to work you have to want it yourself.

You have to be ready to stop drinking

In fact, you have to be desperate to stop drinking. To be successful you have to be so desperate that you are at rock bottom. It is only when you get there – when you realize that alcohol is ruining your life you will be desperate enough to do whatever it takes to quit. Remember, alcohol is a drug and it changes the way your brain functions; it stimulates the pathways in the brain that lead to addiction. That is why quitting is so hard. You have to be prepared for a fight.


The first step to getting rid of alcoholism when you are in rehab is detox. This is when your body will be ridding itself of the toxins that it has accumulated from over-consumption of alcohol. This stage lasts anything from a few days to a few weeks and it is painful. Although the symptoms vary they commonly include muscular aches, nausea, vomiting, headaches and other symptoms. The doctors in your rehab facility will give you drugs to help with the pain and vomiting but you can expect to experience it to a reasonable degree.

How Long Does Rehab Take?

It is quite likely that you will be in rehab for 30 days. During this time you will regularly visit with an addiction counselor with whom you can discuss the reasons behind your alcoholism. They will give you advice and tips on how to stay sober. You will also have group sessions with other alcoholics where through sharing experiences you can understand that you are not alone and that there are other with similar problems. Group sessions can be very therapeutic.  The clinic may even bring in alcoholics who are in recovery so that they can share with you ideas that helped them stay sober. Take these opportunities seriously.

Getting Out of Rehab

Once your rehab is over you will go back home. The urge to drink will likely be quite strong especially when you feel stressed. That is why you must look for Alcoholics Anonymous near you.   There are AA meetings taking place all the time, all over Louisiana.  In the initial days after rehab you should attend every day – in a few months you can reduce it down to once or twice a week. Keep away from gatherings or situations that involve alcohol – just one drink can send you down the addiction rabbit hole.

Remember, it is very hard to quit drinking if you don’t have a support system. Seek out friends and family and even colleagues who are willing to do what it takes to help you stay sober.

Physiotherapy for Shoulder Pain

Charles Brown No Comments
shoulder pain

Physiotherapy for Shoulder Pain

Our shoulders are essential to our mobility. Rather we are scratching our back or reaching for something behind us in the car or bowling a perfect over your shoulder we need our shoulders to allow for wide range of motions.

Your shoulder is made up of three bones: humerus (upper arm), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone). The shoulder has a small joint contact zone and therefore the muscles around the shoulder are vital to the health and functioning of your shoulder. These muscles include:

  • Deltoids
  • Rhomboid
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Infraspinatus
  • Supraspinatus
  • Teres

The most common reasons these muscles become weakened or shoulder pain persist are:

Research has shown that physiotherapy is generally an effective shoulder pain management. There are two types of treatment options: non-operative or surgical approaches. A physiotherapist will determine which treatment is best for you based on your diagnosis. Here are some of the most common shoulder injury treatments:

  • Early Injury: Do not take shoulder pain lightly. Injuries that are left untreated frequently result in muscle weakness and joint stiffness. If you have injured your shoulder or there is discomfort then immediately practice RICE: Rest, Ice (or heat), Compression and Elevation. If the symptoms do not improve within a few days then seek medical attention from your GP, physio or osteopath.
  • Shoulder strength and stretching exercises: Your shoulder is naturally unstable so that it can have a wider range of motion, therefore strength and coordination are essential to a healthy recovery. Your physiotherapist will design you a program based on your specific injury or discomfort to strengthen weaker areas.
  • Biomechanical analysis: Physiotherapist will analyse your shoulders bio mechanics to find flaws that result in jury or a slow recovery. This includes analyzing your gait, running, sprinting, etc., and analyzing your workplace environment.
  • Soft tissue massage: Your chiropractor will target your muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue and use a variety of massaging depths, pressures and time to alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Brace or support: Your physio might recommend that you wear a brace or a sling to relieve pain, rest injured tissues, protect the shoulder from injury and allow for tissue healing around the shoulder.
  • Kinesiology taping: Similar to a brace or sling support, your physiotherapist might recommend kinseio taping. The tape is thin, stretchy and therapeutic and is commonly used for injuries and inflammation. The tape does not restrict movement but still provides support, protection.
  • Physiotherapy instrument mobilization: Physiotherapist could use this instrument for joint manipulation around the shoulder. The instrument more effectively replicates manipulative techniques that manual methods.

Whether you are suffering from a sports-related injury, arthritis, decreasing mobility and stability, a fracture or tendon tears, a physiotherapist can aid your shoulders recovery with either a surgical option or a through strategic treatment techniques that encourage a steady recovery. Do not brush shoulder pain off. Treating it as soon as possible will mean faster healing.

How to Maintain Sobriety

Charles Brown No Comments
rehab facilities

How to Maintain Your Sobriety  

As a recovering drug addict with over twenty years of sobriety, I understand this can be a difficult and complex situation to write about.  Everyone is different, and people use drugs for vastly different reasons.  There’s millions of ways to be an addict, so just to start my article off on the right foot, let’s agree that this is a difficult subject to write about.  

My Experience with Addiction

So instead of discussing the varying commonalities among drug addicts and those who maintain long term sobriety, or other irrelevant statistics, I’m just going to share some experience and practical advice with you.  

For every one person who wants to learn how to stay sober or clean, there are equally as many answers.  Drug addiction is a highly personal thing.  It’s something that many people share, but then again, they don’t.  Some addictive behaviors may be similar, but the inner workings of an addict’s mind is a mystery for each and every one that exists.  In order for anyone, and I mean anyone to first obtain and second maintain sobriety through whatever hard times exist, no matter what happens in life… that takes very serious dedication.

The “dedication” part of it is where so many addicts have trouble.  And, conversely, this makes the argument for me that ongoing support and participation in some kind of regular meeting or group is supremely important in maintaining that dedication.  Dedication can change like an opinion, but if you have someone else helping to hold you accountable, the odds improve significantly that your dedication will not shift off course, which frequently leads to a relapse.

Now, most addicts who want to quit using their drug often enter some sort of substance abuse treatment center while they are highly motivated and even excited.  The first part of that process is going through a detoxification program. Although invariably a challenging part of the process, many feel as they complete their detox, the journey is over.

But as time passes, so can the determination to stay away from their drug.  Some addicts enter the treatment system as a result of external crisis.  Some come in with high levels of motivation for drug treatment, but others have less.

 Regardless of their level of motivation, however, entering a drug treatment facility can be a frightening experience and one that requires a high level of interest in resolving ones’ addiction.  I should also note that regardless of their motivation, the fact that they reached out for help should be commended and supported.    

One time in an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, someone asked how the old timer’s had stayed sober.  Many of them admitted to slipping and relapsing occasionally, but the simple way to stay sober is just to not pick up the drink in the first place.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Just don’t have that drink.  Just don’t smoke that drug.  Just don’t take those pills.  Words of wisdom, for sure, but hardly easy.

So how does a person not pick up that drink, or stop using that drug? The answer is SUPPORT.  There is no doubt that the first thirty days of any detoxification process may be the most difficult and a lot of close observation and support is necessary during this time.  This is often hard to do in a home environment, especially in today’s world of working parents.  It’s hard to have 24/7 observation over anyone, much less a drug addict who may come up with extremely creative ways to get his or her next fix as soon as a blind eye is turned.  This is where in-patient care can be of the most help.  

In Patient Assistance

keep calm and stay soberWhen someone is getting in-patient care, it basically means they’ve been admitted as a patient into a drug rehab or treatment facility.  It also basically means they can’t leave until the in-patient treatment part is complete.  

Afterwards, they may recommend a half-way house, or possibly ongoing personal and/or group therapy for the initial and long-term maintenance.  Reason being, is that anyone serious addict who has been through treatment more than once can tell you, getting sober is easy.  Staying sober is hard.  

Staying sober has as many challenges as there are stars in the sky.  Addictions have a nasty habit of coming back at just the right time, like a thief in the night.  And the problem is, it usually only takes one use to trigger a full-blown relapse.  Just one.  

So how can anyone avoid this?  Well, for starters, inpatient drug treatment is very helpful in getting you clean.  A half-way house can provide monitoring and counseling, while still giving you exposure (and freedom) to the outside world.  Ongoing group counseling and/or personal therapy is where you’ll find the strength to turn down that opportunity to use your drug “just once more”.  It won’t hurt anything, right?  No, wrong.  

This is because of the nature of addiction.  You can’t be an addict and also have the ability to control your drug.  If you’re a real addict, your drug controls you.  This is important to know in order to fight it off.  Once you realize your drug can easily overpower you if you let it, it’s up to you to let it or not.

 It’s just as easy to pass on a drug as it is to pick it up and use again.  The difference comes from strength.  And we all know, there is strength in numbers.  So there’s your argument for long term AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous), or a host of other ongoing treatment groups.  

Other things you can do to help maintain your sobriety include:

  • Keep Busy – A drug addict’s worst enemy is boredom, so by keeping yourself busy, you’re also keeping your mind off your addiction, passing time productively, and replacing bad habits with better ones.  
  • Talk – Don’t keep your addiction a secret.  The more people around you who know about your struggle, the more support you’re going to find.  It’s embarrassing the first time you tell someone you’re an addict, but becomes easier over time.  No matter how easy or hard it is to say it, if you do, you’ll likely find that most people will rally around and support you.  
  • Go to Meetings – This is also part of “Talk” above, but just with people who share similar experiences with addiction.  It’s one thing to sympathize with a person, but to have experienced something yourself and to have a better sense of exactly how that addict is feeling is a whole level of power altogether.
  • Seek professional help.  Sometimes, depending on the drug and its’ withdrawal symptoms, professional help is the only way to get clean.  But even if it’s not, you still need a doctor monitoring you, helping to make sure your body is strong and not suffering any serious effects from long term drug or alcohol abuse.  It’s no secret, it’s not uncommon for a serious alcoholic to die shortly after stopping drinking, so having proper medical attention relative to the person and the substance they’re abusing is very important to recovery.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Eat better, go to the Gym, start exercising, whatever.  Do those things you know you need to do simply to make your body feel better.  When we exercise, we feel better.  When we eat healthy, we feel better.  When we get proper rest, we feel better.  Pay attention to your body and start working in time for yourself to “make you feel better” without using drugs or alcohol.  
  • Reassess friendships – This one needs little explanation.  If you have a drug problem and continue hanging around other people who also have drug problems, you’re just making it easier to relapse.  To rid your life of serious drug addiction, sometimes you need to rid you life of people who might cause you to relapse.  
  • Find new ways to enjoy life – Therapy can help you learn to love yourself and enjoy life in ways you weren’t able to before.  Listening to old-timers in your groups can give you insight into the mental changes that take place, over time, in a recovering addict’s mind.  Learn to love yourself.  If you truly love yourself, you’ll take care of yourself better than you ever did before.  

Best of Luck!

Life gives no guarantees, except that it’s never easy.  We all have good days and bad days.  Don’t let the bad ones push you back into your addiction.  If alcohol is the challenge, find a good rehab for alcohol.

Controlling an addiction is a full time job, and one that you really can not do by yourself. Assess your situation now.  If you have an addiction of any kind, admit it to yourself, and get the proper help.  

I want you to succeed.  But start by realizing you are in control, not the drug, and get as much support as you can.  Remember the old saying, “one day at a time”.  You don’t have to strive for a lifetime of sobriety, you only have to strive for a day’s worth… one day at a time.  

Help Staying Sober

The Flu Season is Knocking

Charles Brown No Comments
flu season

Flu Season Is Right Around the Corner

Because a cold and the flu share many of the same symptoms, including runny, stuffy nose, sore throat and coughing it is sometimes hard to know if you really have the flu. However, health experts across the country agree that having a fever and the severity of symptoms you are experiencing are key to differentiating between influenza (flu) and the common cold.

Difference Between The Cold and the Flu

Things that differentiate between a cold and the flu include a fever, body aches and chills, fatigue and sudden onset of symptoms are the key signs that you have the flu. Both colds and the flu are caused by viruses which are common this time of the year when close contact with others and the stress of busy work and holiday schedules make us even more susceptible. But differentiating between a cold and influenza, at least initially, is not always easy because the two can share a number of the same symptoms such as a stuffy nose, a sore throat and a cough.

Colds are typically mild and will usually last only a few days and, in most cases, your body can still function with a cold. When you have the flu within a short time of contracting the virus you will start experiencing a high fever (102 degrees or more), and your whole body aches, and you can’t even get off the couch. At that point you can probably guess correctly that you probably have the flu.

Unlike colds, which tend to have a more gradual onset, the flu usually comes on more suddenly and that one characteristic is the feature in the mnemonic device for identifying the flu — FACTS

  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Sudden onset of tiredness


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and last as late as May, but it usually peaks in January or February.  The best defense against the flu is to get your flu shot early.

The common colds, caused by many different viruses are most often rhinoviruses. The CDC estimates that there are approximately 1 billion cases of the common cold annually in the United States alone. The flu accounts for fewer cases the agency reported that during last year’s flu season there were about 31.8 million influenza-associated illnesses and 14.4 million-related doctor visits during last year’s flu season. Even though there are fewer cases of the flu, it’s still considered a far more severe viral infection.

Complications that can arise from the influenza virus include bacterial pneumonia, a weakened heart muscle, and even the death of people who could be otherwise healthy. The virus is responsible for the hospitalization of over 200,000 people each year.

Last year there were 169 flu-related deaths among children that were reported by the CDC last month. The agency does not keep the same type of statistics on adults, but estimates that there are somewhere around 24,000 deaths are related to the influenza each year.

The common misconception for the treatment of both the common cold and the flu is that antibiotics can fight these viruses, however viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections but, many people still think otherwise. In a national survey of consumers that the foundation released this month, 44% of respondents incorrectly said antibiotics fight the flu and 48% mistakenly believed that flu vaccines “treat” influenza.

There are antiviral medications that can be prescribed by a physician to treat the flu but, they work best if given within 48 hours of when people began to feel ill. The CDC recommends taking “everyday preventative actions” to stop the spread of germs, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; staying home when you are sick and washing your hands with soap and water several times a day and especially after being out in public places like the mall or grocery store where you are exposed to a large number of people.

Even after taking all the everyday precautions many people still get the flu. The CDC reports that the most effective way of preventing the flu in your family is by getting a flu vaccine (either injection or nasal spray) and says the vaccine is key to reducing the risk of flu for everyone.  It has also been said that Vitamin D can assist with not getting the flu.

There are people who are at higher risk of contracting the flu no matter how many precautions that take including:

People who are at high risk of developing more serious complications such as pneumonia if they get the flu

People who have other medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease

Pregnant women

Children 5 and younger and especially those younger than 2

Elderly people 65 years and older

Caregivers and others who live with or care for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications

Receiving the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting the flu virus by as much as 60%, and although it does not affect every known flu virus out there, it does prevent many of the flu viruses that might be circulating in a given season. In cases where vaccinated people still get the flu, the symptoms may be lesser than they would have been otherwise because the vaccine generates an immune response.

Is it the cold or the flu?

Here are the differences according to health experts:

• Fever. One of the first signs and rare for a cold but, common with the flu virus. Fevers can go up to 102 degrees, especially in children, and can persist three or four days.

• Headache. Colds will rarely cause you to have a headache where they are quite common with the flu.

• Aches and pains. Although you can experience aches and pains with a cold they are usually mild. Aches and pains with the flu are most usually much more severe.

• Fatigue. Again, fatigue and tiredness can occurs with a cold, but the flu will usually start with a period of exhaustion and can last two or three weeks.

• Sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat. These are the most frequent symptoms of a cold but can and most usually will occur with the flu.

• Chest discomfort, cough. Again these symptoms can be present with a cold and the flu but are most often mild to moderate with colds and more severe with flu.

• Get plenty of rest.

• Drink lots of fluids, which can thin mucus and prevent dehydration.

• Over-the-counter medication, such as antihistamines, decongestants and pain and fever reducers, can provide temporary relief from symptoms.

• If you’re feeling very weak, running a high fever (102 degrees or higher), have trouble breathing or symptoms worsen, contact a medical care provider.

The same is true if you suffer from a chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes or congestive heart failure, which makes you more vulnerable to complications.

flu season is here

Getting Your Flu Shot Is Easy

Peanut Allergies

Charles Brown No Comments
peanut allergy

Peanut Allergies

There have been many stories in the media the past several years of children becoming ill or even dying at schools and summer camps from peanut related allergies. I understand the cost-effectiveness of peanut butter: it is inexpensive and goes a long way. I have heard parents who do not have children with food allergies complain that the food-sensitive children should bring their own food, and carry on that their child shouldn’t suffer the loss of peanut butter just because another child might get sick and die. I blame ignorance for those comments. If something as casual as peanut butter can remotely cause a fatal injury, it should be eliminated from the menu.

Everyone Has Some Allergies

Almost every one I know suffers from allergies to something. People suffer symptoms ranging from hives to sinus problems.

Having moved to Louisiana in my mid-30’s, I enjoyed all the wonderful food this State has to offer: shrimp, crawfish, oysters, all cooked in every way imaginable. As I grew older, I became less tolerant to certain foods, some of which were causing food allergy-related symptoms, which can be life-threatening.

peanut allergiesOne night my face swelled to twice its size, accompanied by what felt like the burning of my skin, and my eyes swelled to the point of almost being closed. Of course, I initially sought answers online as to what would cause such a horrible onset… was it the bubonic plague come back to modern times? Perhaps ricin poisoning? WebMD can, and does, offer a detailed explanation for every symptom you can imagine. Having a powerful imagination, I was convinced I was to die a slow, lingering, painful and a quite unattractive death. Ultimately, I decided to go to an actual doctor. His diagnosis: no more shellfish for me.

Allergies Can Arise At Any Time

Apparently, allergies can be assumed at any age. In Louisiana, you may as well stop eating if you have a shellfish allergy To add insult to injury, I also soon developed an allergy to nuts. The same symptoms, the same diagnosis, the same changing of the menu of foods I could safely eat.

There is, of course, no cure , but there are preventable measures I take. For one thing, I keep Benadryl on hand at all times. I am also extremely careful when I go out to eat. Cross contamination can be deadly for people suffering food allergies. Fried chicken is great, but was it cooked in the same oil as the shrimp? Is the oil used for frying vegetable oil or peanut oil? On the rare occasions that eat out, I go to restaurants that I trust. I order items not only without shellfish, or that may have touched shellfish, but I avoid any foods that may contain nuts, such as salads, vegetables, desserts.

I do not want anyone to get the impression that it is just a matter of convenience for me to go through the rest of my life being a picky eater. It is a matter of my own safety. WedMD told me so.