Posts made in November, 2013

Pertussis or Better Known as the Whopping Cough Vaccine

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in News | 1 comment

Sneezing girlPertussis or whooping cough is a respiratory infection caused by a bacterium Bordetella pertussis and it is highly contagious. Initially, you may have cold symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and mild cough. In about 1-2 weeks, the cold symptoms get better but the cough becomes more severe. Whooping sound is made when the person takes a breath after the severe cough. People can get whooping cough at any age. Normally, pertussis is part of the childhood vaccine called DTaP, which includes diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years of age. Most children should be vaccinated before they start kindergarten. In 2006, a booster vaccine called Tdap was recommended for children 11-12 years old.

According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there have been cases of pertussis in children 7-10 years of age in 2007. In the past year, increasing number of pertussis cases was found in children between 13 and 14 years of age who got Tdap. This indicated that Tdap is effective for the first 2 years. It also suggested the decrease in immunity from childhood DTaP after vaccination with Tdap. Researchers found that there are different strains of bacteria causing whooping cough and the vaccine does not cover all the strains. Therefore, some of the vaccinated people may still get pertussis during the outbreak. However, the symptoms seem to be milder and shorter duration in vaccinated person. The risk of getting pertussis in unvaccinated children is eight times higher than vaccinated children. Tdap vaccine is still recommended for pregnant women and people who are in close contact with infants.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.

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How to Manage Eczema Also Known as Atopic Dermatitis

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Scratching imageEczema or atopic dermatitis is a skin condition where the skin is itchy, dry, and inflamed. It may appear as red patches with small bumps. It is more common in infants and children than adults. Eczema occurs in children with family history of asthma, hay fever and seasonal allergies. It can appear anywhere on the body but typically in babies, eczema affects the arms, legs, cheeks and scalp. In children, it affects the back of the neck, elbows and the back of the knees. In adults, it affects face, wrists, hands and forearms. Eczema is a chronic condition where it flares up at times and goes away for a while. There is no cure for eczema but you may be able to control the itchy rashes with self-care. If you or your child has itchy rashes for the first time in your life, you should see a doctor. The following self-care tips are for those who have eczema that was diagnosed by a physician.

Treatments of eczema include keeping the skin moist and hydrated. Avoid scratching your skin and use ointments such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline and Aquaphor to apply the affected area. You can also use thick creams such as Nutraderm, Eucerin and Cetaphil to keep the skin moist. Lotions are less affected because they have more water content. But if you use lotion, make sure to use the ones that are free of fragrances, chemicals and alcohol. Take a lukewarm bath and be sure to use unscented soap. Apply ointment or thick cream on the affected area and cover it with wet dressing to prevent the skin from drying and itching. Topical steroids are often recommended to treat mild eczema and you can get hydrocortisone 1% cream without prescription. You can apply one to two times daily on the affected skin. You will need a prescription for stronger steroid creams. Studies showed that wet dressing placed over topical steroid works very well for controlling eczema. If your eczema is very bothersome at night, you may take diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to relieve the itching. Keep in mind that Benadryl causes drowsiness. There are non-sedating over-the-counter antihistamines available and those are loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). If you have a severe flare, your doctor may prescribe you oral steroid (Prednisone).

In order to prevent eczema flare or to reduce eczema symptoms, try to stay cool and avoid being in a very dry environment. Take a daily bath or shower. Use mild or unscented soap and detergents. Try to keep the skin moist when there is sudden change in temperatures. Avoid wearing heavy perfume or cologne. Try not to wear clothes that are made of wool or lanolin. Lastly, keep your stress level low and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and chemical pollutants.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.

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Who Should Get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Cough As winter months are nearly upon us and flu season has already started, you might want to get a flu vaccine if you haven’t done so. Often times, seasonal flu develops into pneumonia especially in elderly. Flu vaccine is for both adults and babies who are at least six months of age. On the other hand, pneumonia or pneumococcal vaccine is mainly for people who are over 65 years old and children under two years of age. Keep in mind that you still need pneumonia vaccine if you fall into one of the following categories below.

  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old with diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, alcoholism, cochlear implant (implant in the ear) and sickle cell disease.
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old with diseases that weaken your immune system such as HIV, AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and chronic kidney failure.
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old without a spleen (organ behind your stomach).
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old who is taking long-term steroids, on chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Anyone who lives in a nursing home.
  • Adults with asthma or cigarette smokers.

The most common organism that causes pneumonia is Streptococcal pneumonia in the United States and pneumonia can be fatal sometimes. Pneumococcal pneumonia spreads via contact with secretions from the lungs. Always wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing to prevent spreading of bacteria.

There are two types of vaccine available. One is for children while the other one is for adults. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or PCV13 is given to infants at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and the last dose at 12-15 months of age. Infants should get a total of 4 doses. Ask your pediatrician if your child misses one dose or has certain medical condition. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or PPSV23 is given to adults. While the vaccine prevents you from pneumococcal pneumonia, you can still get pneumonia from other bacteria and viruses. If you have received a pneumococcal vaccine before 65 years of age, you may need a booster vaccine after five years.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.

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