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December 30, 2017: Influenza is now Widespread in Tompkins County

December 30, 2017

Influenza is now widespread in Tompkins County. This year’s  predominant strain, Influenza A (H3N2), is particularly virulent and can make people very sick, especially those who are under 5 years old, over 65, or have chronic medical conditions.  You may have heard that this year’s flu vaccine is not that effective. However, it is still approximately 32% effective against H3N2 and recommended. It is not too late to get it. If you think you have influenza, the antiviral medications can be effective in decreasing the severity and length of your illness as well as how contagious you are.  If you are in a higher risk category it is recommended that you seek medical care and get a prescription of the anti-flu medications.  They are most effective when taken within 48 hours of illness, but can still benefit patients if taken even later.

The following is a list of all the health and age factors that are known to increase a person’s risk of getting serious complications from the flu:
  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)

Other people at high risk from the flu:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Happy Fall!

It hasn’t been as easy as I anticipated- writing blogs that is.  I hope to be more on top of this in coming months, writing about a topic every month or two.  If there is a particular medical question you would like me to write about, please let me know!

Finally- my 2nd blog: Be kind to your kidneys!

Did you know that one out of five older adults (estimates range from 10 to 40%) has chronic kidney disease?  And that diabetes and high blood pressure are two major risk factors for kidney disease? Your kidneys (and how to keep them healthy) is not a very sexy subject (as opposed to menopause or osteoporosis, two hot topics), but the kidneys serve many important functions, including the following:

  • kidneys regulate blood pressure and the body’s water volume
  • the kidneys rid the body of waste products such as uric acid and toxins, filtering up to 200 quarts of blood daily
  • they are important for bone health, converting vitamin D to it’s active form and helping with the absorption of calcium
  • maintaining acid base balance in the blood and the proper levels of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium (critical for normal heart rhythm and necessary cellular functions)
  • release of erythropoietin to induce the bone marrow to make red blood cells

Kidney function declines in all of us as we age, but significant declines can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, hypertension, osteoporosis and anemia and can contribute to heart disease and stroke, which is what most people die of.

There are ways to prevent a significant decline in kidney function:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: obesity raises the risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes, two significant risk factors for kidney disease. Also, having excessive body weight likely puts unnecessary  strains on the kidneys that may lead to compromise or loss of the glomeruli, the basic filtering units of the kidney
  • avoid excessive salt in your diet as it can raise blood pressure, and salt may have direct negative effects on the kidneys
  • moderate amounts of protein in  your diet is probably fine, but too much may tax the kidneys
  • avoid exposure to the toxins lead, mercury and cadmium
  • over the counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) can damage kidneys if used frequently
  • exercise regularly- it not only decrease your risks of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, but may have direct positive effects on your kidneys
  • control diabetes and high blood pressure
  • try to prevent kidney stones by drinking at least 8 cups of water and non-sugared beverages daily, if you take a calcium supplement take it with food, limit high oxalate foods

I hope you you found the information in this blog helpful and will do what you can to maintain healthy kidney function!  Some of this information was obtained from one of my favorite resources, The Nutrition Action Health Letter (March 2014).

8/8/14 KML


My first blog post: August 15, 2013

I am very excited to welcome you to my practice. It is scheduled to open Monday, September 16, 2013. I had the idea to open a primary care practice focusing on women many years ago and am finally doing it. My goal is to provide excellent care in a welcoming setting in partnership with my patients. I am grateful to Finger Lakes Physical Therapy for collaborating with me to make this dream a reality.

While I have been practicing medicine since 1999, the last 12 months have been an education of a different sort: electronic medical records, insurance procedures, business plans, compliance issues and much more. It will take time to come up with all of our protocols and work out the kinks and I plan to continually strive to be up to date and efficient. If you do become a patient in the practice, I welcome feedback so the practice can grow and improve.

To schedule a new appointment please call the office and the staff of Finger Lakes Physical Therapy will assist you.

I look forward to meeting you!

Karen LaFace, MD