What do antioxidants really do?

Milly Smith, RPA-C

Flu season is upon us and I have small children. Should I have them get a flu shot and why? Is it possible to get the flu even after being vaccinated? The New York State Department of Health recommends that anyone six months or older should receive the flu vaccine. It is recommended that all children should get the flu vaccine in order to be protected from serious complications if infected with influenza. One of the biggest cons of getting the flu vaccine is that you can develop some minor viral symptoms such as low grade fevers and malaise. Yes, you can still get the flu even if you are vaccinated.

I find myself sweating profusely at times, regardless of the weather. What can I do to help the situation? Excessive sweating or primary hyperhidrosis should have a full evaluation done by a primary care provider. It can be idiopathic and secondary to some social or  emotional issues but it can also be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition.

Some people say that shoveling is the worst winter activity for your body, is that true? What are the risks of shoveling? Shoveling snow can be considered a high impact cardiovascular activity. If you are mostly a sedentary person or usually do not engage in high physical  activities, shoveling snow for a first winter storm  could potentially cause over-exertion and worrisome fatigue. Anytime the oxygen demand of the heart is not met, you risk having a heart attack. Shoveling snow can very easily cause this scenario.

Is hand sanitizer an effective substitute for regular hand-washing with soap and hot water? No, the old traditional method of hand-washing with soap and water should never be forgotten. Using a hand sanitizer all the time can cause your hands to lose the ability to fight off bacteria that is  normally found on the skin and that can actually lead to more opportunity for infections.

I am an older adult who had chicken pox when I was younger. Should I get a shingles shot? Yes. The Zostavax vaccine is recommended for people who are 60 years old or older. This vaccine protects you against shingles, which is a more common infection in older people who may also be immunocompromised secondary to other chronic illnesses they have, like diabetes.

What is the difference between going to an urgent care center  versus going to the emergency room at the hospital? An urgent care center can provide quicker and more cost effective medical care for  acute illnesses such as sinus infections, urinary tract infections, broken bones, stitches and gout. The use of emergency rooms should be reserved for more serious life-threatening illnesses such as chest pain, persistent vomiting, having the worst headache of your life, acute trauma, etc.

I feel fine, quite healthy and exercise daily, so do I have to worry about osteoporosis? Absolutely. As we all age, our body’s natural ability to absorb calcium significantly decreases. This in turn predisposes us to osteoporosis despite eating healthy and exercising daily. It is very important to always make a conscious effort to consume more calcium orally, as we get older, and always continue with healthy diet and daily exercise.

What do antioxidants do for your health?
They’re advertised in everything from fruit to coffee. Antioxidants are one of the major weapons we have in fighting off carcinogens, or cancer- causing agents. The more antioxidants we consume the better the chance we have in fighting off potentially cancer-causing cells and maintaining our physiological integrity.

The old adage is “stuff a cold, starve a fever,” is that a good practice? (Eating a lot of healthy things when you have a cold, avoiding eating too much and drinking more when you have a  fever.) The number one thing that speeds up recovery from a cold or viral infection is keeping hydrated. Drink, drink, drink and rest are the best way for the body to restore itself and fight off viral infections. Nobody feels like eating when they are sick, and not eating for a couple of days when you  have a cold is really not a big deal. Drinking is much more important.

Milly Smith, RPA-C, is a board-certified physician’s assistant and an owner/operator of QuikMed Urgent Care in Watertown. Contact her at quikmeduc@yahoo.com. This column is provided for informational use only and not intended as medical care. See a licensed medical provider to address any health concerns.