What a wonderful day to celebrate! National Doctors’ Day was first observed in 1933 when general anesthesia was used during surgery for the first time & was officially made a national day of celebration in 1991 (Public Law 101-473.)
Check out my blog post on KevinMD from 2014 for more fun facts about doctors:
and don’t forget to show your favorite doctors some love on this special day!
The World Health Organization has declared this week to be “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” which is dedicated to bringing awareness to the global health epidemic of antibiotic resistance. It’s also “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” here in the United States. According to the CDC 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria and 23,000 people die from such infections each year. What’s worse is that antibiotic resistance continues to increase.
“To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted.”
Following Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, bacteria normally evolve in such a way that they evade destruction by antibiotics. However, inappropriate antibiotic use in healthcare settings and increasing antibiotic administration to farm animals is creating a rising number of “superbugs” such as MRSA and drug resistant E. coli. Even simple urinary tract infections are becoming difficult to eradicate. The few effective second line treatments that are available are usually expensive and require hospitalization. Antibiotic resistance is only a part of the problem, as antibiotics are also not free of side effects. Certain antibiotics can cause vomiting and diarrhea, tendon rupture and even heart arrhythmias. Since antibiotics also decrease the beneficial bacteria that live within our bodies, yeast and the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which are normally contained by our body’s “good” bacteria, can overgrow and lead to deadly infections.
“It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.”
So why is there an inappropriate use of antibiotics? Ask any doctor and you will find that there are high expectations from patients for antibiotic prescriptions, especially for colds. However, many people do not realize that colds are usually caused by viruses and viruses are not treatable with antibiotics. (It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.) Healthcare providers are also at fault. Many providers give into pressure from patients, sometimes writing antibiotic prescriptions and advising patients not to fill them just for patient satisfaction. To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted. I was also threatened once by an asymptomatic patient who wanted antibiotics because her son had a cold.
So what can be done to decrease antibiotic resistance? Prevention is always key to avoiding any disease in the first place. Eating a healthy diet, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and staying physically active are all great ways to boost the immune system and promote overall health. Consistent hand washing is also paramount as our hands are a primary means of spreading germs. It’s also important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. This means that the leftover antibiotic originally given for a skin infection, which should have been completed in the first place, may not cover that urinary tract infection.
It’s up to physicians to educate patients on the risks and benefits of antibiotics use. I find that most of my patients feel comfortable when I educate them about their symptoms and reassure them that I will be available to prescribe antibiotics if necessary. As for patients, your involvement and accountability for your health could be the reason you and your family members survive an antibiotic resistant infection in the future. As always, make sure to see a healthcare provider if you think you need antibiotics.
Fall is finally here and with it comes the cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and the dreaded cold and flu season. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next several months:
Optimize your immune system
The most effective way to prevent colds, the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight the viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective for the flu, and does not prevent colds, which are caused by a completely different virus. In fact, last year the flu vaccine was only about 20% effective in preventing the flu. A healthy lifestyle can potentially cover the other 80%. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways that have been scientifically proven boost the immune system.
Use nasal saline rinses
The entry point for cold and flu viruses occurs primarily through the nasal passages. Use a Neti pot daily to rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to flush out viruses, preventing them from spreading throughout the respiratory tract.
Gargle with warm salt water
Gargling with warm salt water has been scientifically proven to prevent colds. Like saline nasal rinses, gargling with warm salt water daily can help prevent cold and flu viruses from replicating and progressing in the body.
The old wives tale of staying bundled up has some merit. While cold temperatures are not the direct cause of colds and the flu, scientists have found that exposure to cold air may decrease the local immune response in our nasal passages. One of the main reasons we catch colds during colder seasons is because many people spend time indoors, thus making it easier to be exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you do decide to get some fresh air, make sure to bundle up and keep your face and neck covered.
Take vitamin D
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing colds and the flu.
Drink Ginger Turmeric tea
In Ayurveda, colds and the flu are thoughts to be due to an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha. Turmeric and ginger can balance these doshas. In fact, both ginger and turmeric have been scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and work against cold and flu viruses.
Cover your mouth
Cold and flu viruses are transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.
Wash your hands
While air droplets transmit cold and flu viruses, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since cold and flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Also, avoid touching your face to prevent the cold and flu viruses from entering your nose.
Disinfect your home
This goes along with tip #8. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.
Avoid contact with sick people
The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!
Stay ahead of the cold and flu season!
These prevention strategies are worth a cold and flu- free fall and winter season for you and your family. Make sure to practice a healthy lifestyle all year round.
Feel free to share ways in which you have been able to prevent yourself from getting sick in the comments below!
Doctors and the Healthcare System
Many people are frustrated with the healthcare system and rightfully so. The doctor may not always be to blame however. Many people tell me how they have had doctors who don’t have time to listen or “do anything” for them. Like with anything in life, there are different levels of professionalism, however, there are also many things that go on behind the scenes of medicine that you may not know. Read more at my article on KevinMD.com: Before visiting the doctor, consider these 5 things you may not know.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
With more and more people trying to improve their health these days, it can become confusing as to which diet or exercise regimen to follow. Many of us also miss the big picture when it comes to health maintenance. Health is about balance, and it involves addressing more than just the body. Read more about this in an article I contributed to with The Active Times at 7 Surprising Habits Your Health Routine Might be Missing.
The power of positive thinking has been scientifically proven to positively impact our health. Read more at my post featured on The Mind Unleashed: Change Your Thoughts, Transform Your Health. Using The Power of Consciousness to Heal.
With the cold and flu season upon us, everyone is trying to figure out how to avoid getting sick. I often educate patients about why antibiotics aren’t warranted for the common cold, and here are 3 main reasons why:
Colds are caused by viruses
The common cold is usually caused by the rhinovirus. Unfortunately there are no approved pharmaceutical agents that combat this particular virus, mostly because the virus is constantly changing. Strep throat, many cases of sinusitis, and ear infections often have similar symptoms to the common cold, but are caused by bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics. A thorough assessment by a healthcare provider can help determine the cause and appropriate treatment of your symptoms.
“…simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.”
Antibiotics have side effects
Antibiotics are not harmless. Each antibiotic, like most drugs, has a multitude of side effects. Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in our guts, which we need for balanced gastrointestinal health. These drugs have even been linked to allergies, eczema and even deadly diarrheal illnesses. Many healthcare providers reflexively prescribe antibiotics incorrectly, which adds to the problem. The increased use of antibiotics has bred resistant strains of bacteria leading to an epidemic of bacterial infections which can no longer be treated by current antibiotics.
The best cold remedy is…
In general, the best cure for any disease is prevention. In addition to practicing good hygiene, a healthy immune system is necessary to fight off a viral infection. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, exercise and routine stress management boost the immune system, as well as overall well-being. Over the counter remedies target cold symptoms such as cough and congestion. However, simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.
“Illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves.”
So you may be thinking, “Dr. Aunna, I always feel better when I take antibiotics.” If you truly have the cold virus, chances are you are starting to feel better from the natural course of the illness rather than the antibiotics. It’s also possible that you believe you are going to feel better, and thus you do. The placebo effect is extremely powerful. On the other hand, it’s possible to have a viral infection that can eventually progress to a bacterial illness. Over time a healthcare provider will be able to determine whether or not this is this case.
Regardless of the cause, illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves. Instead of stressing out about being sick and thinking you need antibiotics, take the time to rest and treat your body with the respect it deserves. Make your health a priority.
Read more about 10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu.
Thinking of your New Year’s Resolutions? Get started with some ideas from Dr. Aunna’s advice for All Year’s Resolutions.
There are many things human beings are capable of doing. Just take a look at the creation of the Internet, astronauts going to outer space, and most recently “Spray Cake.” There is one thing, however, that we as human beings cannot do.
Early on in my career, I used to become frustrated when some of the patients I provided care for didn’t improve. Usually this would happen because they didn’t follow my recommendations for one reason or another. Then one day it hit me:
I can’t change people
NO ONE CAN CHANGE ANYONE ELSE!
Why we can’t change others
To think we can change others, means we think that we have control over others. It’s amazing how many of us think that we have control over certain things, which are, in fact, really out of our control. We can try to force people to do things, which may bring about changes driven by fear, but coercion eventually backfires, creating resistance, resentment and even rebellion. (Just look at all of the world empires in the past.)
We can influence how others feel or how others react, but again, it is their choice as to how they will let it affect them. I can blatantly disrespect 2 different people. One person may want to lash out at me, but the other may ignore me and go on about life.
So how can we change?
We can change once we can accept the fact that the only control we have is over ourselves. This frees us from trying to control everything outside of us, that we really don’t have control over. By doing this, we in effect, can change the world around us. Mahatmah Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
If we make positive changes in ourselves, we can set a good example for others and motivate others to make positive changes. Positivity (like negativity) is contagious, and through a domino effect we can make a positive impact on a universal level. We can also promote change by supporting others and providing them with a healthy environment for when they are ready to change.
This does not mean, however, that we should change ourselves to make others like us or view us a certain way. This is still a form of control and will attract controlling and manipulative people into our life. Wanting others to view us differently implies that deep within we don’t want them to see who we really are, which is an imperfectly perfect human.
People change when they want to change
I can help in changing a lot of things when it comes to people’s health (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc). Ultimately those changes occur when a patient makes the choice to take my advice and/or be accountable for his or her own health. Take smoking cigarettes, for example. The most successful way I have ever known someone to quit smoking, was to JUST QUIT. They didn’t need a nicotine patch, e-cigs or even prescription medications. It didn’t happen when someone else wanted them to quit. They did on their own terms.
Making the impossible, possible
I’m glad I learned early on in my career that I can’t change people. I know that my intentions are to help people and I will do my part, and that’s all that matters. If you can accept the fact that the only control you have is over yourself, you will lift a huge burden off of your shoulders and you won’t need to control life, because then life will just flow.
If you want to see changes in your life and your world, stop trying to change the outside. Stop fighting others. Stop trying to control others. Change yourself on the inside and the outside changes will follow.
Do you have an idea, product, or skill set that can help change the world? Consider sharing it at the World’s First Pay it Forward Platform at the milliondollarmosaic.org. You can also check out my book for some helpful tips on how to make positive changes within.
The Influenza Virus
With the flu season around the corner, many of us are trying to figure out how to stay healthy and “flu-free.” The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Common symptoms include:
– Runny nose
– Sore throat
– Body aches
Cold vs Flu
It’s important to note that the flu is different from the common cold. Both illnesses are caused by different viruses and the flu usually comes on suddenly with more severe symptoms. The flu is also more likely to cause complications such as pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections.
Most people think that the influenza vaccine is all they need, but according to the CDC, the influenza vaccine is only 60% effective. Here are some additional ways to help you prevent the flu (and the common cold):
1. Build a healthy immune system
The most effective way to prevent the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. While everyone is susceptible to the flu, those with weaker immune systems are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with other medical conditions such as heart failure are at risk. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways to boost the immune system and prevent many other diseases!
2. Cover your mouth
The influenza virus is transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.
3. Wash your hands
While the influenza virus is transmitted by air droplets, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face since the nasal passages are the main entry for the influenza virus.
4. Disinfect your home
This goes along with tip #3. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.
5. Avoid contact with sick people
The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!
6. Take vitamin D
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing the flu.
Take advantage of what Mother Nature has blessed you with
Despite your best efforts to prevent the flu, it’s still possible that you may come in contact with the virus. A healthy immune system, however, can stop the virus before it can spread throughout the body. The influenza vaccine is just another way to help build our immune system’s resources, but won’t be effective if our innate healing mechanisms aren’t functioning properly.
Make sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year round and discuss the best flu prevention options for you and your family with your healthcare provider.
Share your flu prevention methods in the comments below!
Check out How to Prevent the Flu: Tips from 30 Health and Flu Prevention Experts on the Best Way to Avoid Getting Sick with the Flu this Winter