Dr Kevin Kok talks to CARING Magazine about Vertigo
As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Day, we celebrate all mums who dedicate their time to feeding their babies, whether it be by breastmilk or formula. Becoming a new parent, whether for the first time or again for experienced parents, is a tiring and daunting task. We support and encourage breastfeeding for its benefits for both mother and baby, but we equally salute mums who, for whatever reasons be they medical or personal, choose to formula feed their babies. Today we give our tips and advice on breastfeeding.
Why should I breastfeed?
1. It’s always ready and available!
No sterilizing, washing bottles or mixing required! Mummy’s body is designed to be your baby’s one-stop shop for everything, and breastmilk is available in the right quantity according to your baby’s demands.
2. It’s got all a baby needs
The foremilk is watery and fluid, and contains the hydration your baby needs. So there is no need to supplement a breastfed baby with additional water. The hindmilk, or the creamy thicker milk towards the later part of the feed, contains more calories and nutrients that baby needs for growth. As long as you continue to feed on demand, allowing baby to feed equally for about 10 minutes on each side, your baby should be getting all its fluid and nutrition from breastmilk.
3. It’s great for the newborn immune system
Especially in the first few days, breastmilk contains mostly colostrum, which is the ‘liquid gold’ produced in small amounts by mummy. This contains important antibodies that help to protect baby from infections in the first 6 months while its own immune system is developing and maturing.
4. It promotes bonding between mother and infant
It’s a special feeling holding your baby close to your skin and watching him gain all he needs from your body. While it’s not the only way to bond with your baby, mums often describe breast feeding as a special time that only a mother can provide her baby, and a great sense of satisfaction from nurturing and providing for her baby.
5. It helps shed those pregnancy pounds
Because let’s face it, working off those extra pounds just isn’t something most mums have time to do while looking after a newborn baby. Even better if they can feed their baby while shedding a little weight! Breastfeeding burns extra calories and helps with contracting the uterus (or womb) back to pre-pregnancy size. While we don’t promise you’ll get back to your pre-pregnancy figure, you can reassure yourself that at least you’re burning off a few extra calories as a bonus on top of all those other benefits breastfeeding brings!
What are the most important tips you can tell me about breastfeeding?
1. A good latch is the key to success!
It’s worth spending some time after delivery to make sure baby is latching on well. Not only will it ensure that baby is getting enough milk, it will prevent common breastfeeding problems like chapped and sore nipples, blockages and a grumpy underfed baby! Make sure baby’s lower lip curls outwards and he ‘takes in’ the entire nipple and areola area. Baby should not be nibbling on just the nipple alone – this will lead to very sore nipples and painful cuts.
Usually, nurses in the maternity wards or lactation consultants will be on hand after delivery to guide you through. If you’ve already returned home, there are home visit lactation consultants available, or your confinement nanny may be able to correct your latch. Many of our Onecare doctors are experienced parents as well, and they will be able to help guide you through how to form a proper latch.
Here’s a great tip on which position to latch. The position of baby’s chin will tell you which region of the breast is being drained during feeding. If you feel blocked in the inner lower part of the breast, a standard cradle hold works well. If the outer part of the breast feels blocked, try a football hold to drain the outer ducts. Check out this link for great suggestions on different breastfeeding positions!
2. Feed on demand to make sure you are producing enough for your baby
Mummy’s body is made to feed! Your body will respond in reaction to how your baby feeds. If baby does not finish the milk supply during a feed, your body will receive the signalthat it is producing too much milk, and will slow down milk production. If your baby suckles for longer, the body receives the signal that more milk is needed, and will increase the volume of milk produced. So the body is finely tuned to listen in to your baby’s demands! Feeding on demand will signal to your body when your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, or is more hungry or thirsty, and adjust production of milk to perfectly meet your little baby’s demands!
3. Check the number of wet diapers to see if baby is getting enough milk
Feeding on demand will usually work itself to a 3 or 4 hourly routine for a newborn. Your baby should put out a wet diaper for each feed, so if you are changing a diaper each time, your baby is well-fed.
4. You can do it!
It all starts with believing that you are capable of it, and that your body is able to provide for your baby just as nature intended. There are only rare true cases of mothers being unable to provide milk, for various physical reasons, so take heart knowing that you are doing a great job!
It’s important not to have any feelings of guilt if you are unable to breastfeed, for any reason. Whether it’s a medical or a personal choice, all mothers do the best they can provide for their children, and whether it’s breastmilk or formula, your baby is getting all the nutrition it needs to grow up strong and healthy.
Is there anything I should be careful of?
Mummies who are breastfeeding are often most afraid of blocked ducts. This occurs when the ducts are not completely emptied during breastfeeding; this may be due to positioning of the baby, or to excessive milk production. If these blocked ducts are not cleared, they can lead to mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue, which often requires antibiotics and can even lead to hospitalization and a drainage procedure.
As mentioned previously, ensuring a good latch, and feeding on demand, will prevent sore nipples and also ensure that your baby is getting the right amount of nutrition.
How can Onecare help?
Our team are always on hand to help parents with any parenting advice. Besides being medically trained, many of our staff and doctors have firsthand experience at being parents! We are always excited to share in your bundle of joy, and share our expertise with you. We can also suggest other experts including breast specialists and lactation consultants, to help make your breastfeeding journey a satisfying and rewarding one.
Today is World Hepatitis Day, and the Onecare team is proud to be part of the worldwide movement supporting Elimination of hepatitis infections. Elimination is the theme of this year’s event, and it has only been possible through awareness, education and active prevention including vaccination programs.
What is viral hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by infection, drugs and substances like alcohol. Today we focus on hepatitis caused by a virus infection. There are 5 main types of hepatitis virus, outlined in the table below.
Hepatitis A is contracted through food and water. It causes symptoms similar to food poisoning. Patients generally make a full recovery.
Hepatitis B is contracted through contact with infected bodily fluids. It can cause long term liver infection with a high risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. A vaccine is available and people can be tested to see if they need booster shots.
Hepatitis C is contracted through contact with infected blood. It can also cause long term liver damage. A vaccine is not available for this infection.
Hepatitis D occurs only in those infected with hepatitis B. Infection with both hepatitis B and D viruses causes more serious disease. Vaccination to hepatitis B also protects against hepatitis D, making it even more important to stay up to date with hepatitis B vaccinations.
Hepatitis E is caused most often by contaminated drinking water. Most recover fully, though it can rarely cause fatal complications. A vaccine has been developed, and it is currently licensed for use in China only.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
Patients may have all or some of the following:
How is hepatitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms, including personal information which may be a risk factor for hepatitis exposure. You will have a careful physical examination and you will likely require some blood tests. These blood tests will test for hepatitis virus, as well as markers of infection and liver function. You may also require a scan of the abdomen, which helps your doctor to visualize the liver.
Rarely, a liver biopsy may be done under the care of a specialist. This involves taking a small sample of liver tissue to test for the disease pattern.
How is hepatitis treated?
The treatment depends on the type of hepatitis virus you have been infected with. Some infections are self-limiting, while other infections can be more serious and may require hospitalization and medications. All types of infection will require close monitoring with your doctor, and your doctor will discuss the specific treatment plan appropriate for you.
How can I prevent hepatitis?
Public awareness and vaccination programs have played a large part in bringing viral hepatitis under control. Being aware of how viruses are transmitted helps to prevent certain behaviours that would cause infection. Care with food hygiene and attention to how food is prepared with vendors helps to prevent hepatitis A and E. Safe sex practices prevent transmission of viruses associated with infected bodily fluids, as well as careful handling of needles and protective gear when handling body fluid specimens by healthcare workers.
Vaccines are widely available now, to hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A vaccination (Havrix) involves 2 injections taken 6 months apart. Hepatitis B vaccination (Engerix) is routinely given at birth, but requires screening to see if booster vaccinations are required. Your doctor can perform this test at any clinic, and can advise you on the need for booster shots, usually done as a 3-dose booster schedule over 6 months. A combined vaccination of hepatitis A and B (Twinrix) is available.
Prevention is better than cure
Preventing hepatitis should be an important part of everyone’s health program. It is a preventable disease with far-reaching consequences of infection. Onecare is proud to host our Hepatitis Elimination Campaign this year, encouraging everyone to get screened and vaccinated, to stay healthy. Working with our partners, Innovative Labs and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, we are supporting early detection with our Hepatitis Screening Campaign and Vaccination scheme, at special rates, for the whole month!
This program starts July 28th, so visit us at any Onecare Clinic to find out more and get protected!
What do you need to know about the flu?
The flu is very common, even in perfectly healthy people. It is caused by a virus, and is very contagious and often spreads to others by droplets when you sneeze or cough. Usual symptoms include sore throat, cough, sneezing, runny or blocked nose and fever.
The flu can lead to serious complications, which can sometimes be life-threatening, especially in certain individuals. These complications include pneumonia (an infection of the lung tissue), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and sinus infections. For those who already have chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, contracting the flu can worsen those conditions, adding to the risk of other medical issues.
Everyone of every age is vulnerable to the flu, but special attention needs to be paid to those who have the highest risk of complications developing. These include:
⁃ Very young children
⁃ People aged 65 and above
⁃ People with other medical conditions
⁃ People with lowered immunity due to medications or illness
Complications can be fatal, and more than 80% of flu-related deaths are in people aged 65 and above, making it even more important to prevent flu in our ageing population.
How do I prevent flu?
Staying fit and healthy is a key to preventing not only the flu, but other conditions. Making sure you get the right nutrition, drink plenty of water and have enough good quality rest will keep your body in top condition, and your immune system ready to protect against viruses.
Vaccinations are the best way to actively prevent the flu. These change every year, depending on the type of virus common to that season. Generally, flu vaccinations are approved for ages 3 onwards, though there are vaccinations available for younger children.
Supplements that are commonly believed to help prevent the flu include vitamin C and echinacea. In some studies, these have been shown to lessen the severity of the symptoms, and shorten the duration of flu. While vitamin C is a vital part of your everyday requirements, extra supplementation is generally not required if you are keeping a well balanced diet. Always consult with your family doctor before taking supplements or herbal remedies. They may sometimes contain ingredients unsuitable for pre-existing medical conditions, and can also interact with prescribed medication.
I have so many questions about the flu vaccination!
Here are some common questions we have been asked about the flu shot:
1. Will I be fully protected from the flu?
You will be protected against the types of viruses in the vaccination. These can be the three most common (or trivalent), or four most common (or quadrivalent) flu strains. There are other virus strains which are less common, which are not covered in the vaccination. However, the flu shot will prevent the most common types, which will usually also be the most common cause of complications.
2. How does a vaccination work?
Common strains of flu virus are grown, usually using chicken eggs. The viruses are then killed, and form the vaccination you receive.
Your body responds to the killed virus particles, causing antibodies to be formed. These antibodies are triggered again when you come into contact with the same virus type, and cause your immune system to respond and protect you against effects of the virus.
3. Why do I need to get the vaccination every year?
Viruses can mutate, or change, their subtype. This means that the virus of last season may be different next season. It's important to get the annual flu vaccination to stay protected against newer strains of flu virus.
4. Who should NOT get the flu shot?
You should talk to your doctor about whether you are suitable for the flu shot if:
⁃ You have an allergy to eggs
⁃ You have had an allergy or side effect with previous flu vaccinations
⁃ You have a child below the age of 3 who will be receiving the shot
5. Is it safe for a pregnant woman to get the flu shot?
Yes! Not only is it safe, but it is recommended that pregnant mums-to-be should get vaccinated to prevent complications which could also affect her pregnancy, and wellbeing of her child.
6. If I get the flu shot when I'm sick, will that help me recover faster?
No, it will not affect recovery of your current flu.
You should wait till full recovery before getting the flu shot, to maximise the benefit of the flu shot.
7. Will I get sick right after getting the flu shot?
The vaccination is made using killed virus particles. You will not contract the flu by getting the vaccination. Some people may experience mild fever and muscle aches similar to coming down with the flu. This is the immune system responding to the vaccination, and is not the flu. This usually settles down within a few days, and paracetamol can help with any fever or muscle aches.
8. Is the flu vaccination compulsory for school children?
No, the flu vaccination is not part of the compulsory vaccination schedule. However, it is strongly recommended.
Here are some useful links about flu and the vaccination. Drop by one of our clinics to ask any questions, or to get vaccinated. All of our clinics have the latest vaccination for 2016/17 available.
What is an STI test? An STI test is a medical test for the presence of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). A sexually transmitted infection is an infection spread mainly by sexual contact with an infected person. Different tests are used to detect different STIs. There is no single procedure or test that can
What is an STI test?An STI test is a medical test for the presence of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). A sexually transmitted infection is an infection spread mainly by sexual contact with an infected person.
Different tests are used to detect different STIs. There is no single procedure or test that can detect all sexually transmitted infections. Usually, either blood (serum) samples or swabbing samples are taken for STI testing.
An STI test generally refers to any of a number of tests that can be used to detect a sexually transmitted infection. Common STIs in Singapore include gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.
More about HIV/AIDS testingThe Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS. When a person is infected with HIV, antibodies are produced in response to the infection. The HIV test detects the presence of these antibodies.
Most people develop the HIV antibodies within 1 to 3 months of the infection. However, it can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months for enough HIV antibodies to be produced to be detected by an HIV test.
The time period between when a person is infected with HIV up to the time when it becomes detectable through an HIV test is known as the window period. An HIV test will not show a positive result when done within the window period, even if the person is infected.
A positive HIV test result indicates that you are infected with HIV. Finding out your HIV status can be a painful and emotional experience. Turn to your family, friends and trained counsellors for help. Knowing your HIV status early allows you to seek treatment as quickly as possible.
A negative result could mean that you are either not infected or the infection is still too early to be detected due to insufficient HIV antibodies. You should repeat the test 3 months later.
Why should I get tested?It is important to get yourself tested for STIs if you think you have been exposed to infection. Early detection of STIs will help your doctor better assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatment. Although there is no cure for HIV infection, the condition can be treated. Other STIs, such as gonorrhoea and syphilis, can be treated and cured through medication.
Another reason to get yourself tested is because symptoms of an STI may not appear right away. A person with an STI may not know he or she has the disease. There is also a great risk of an infected person who does not know he or she is infected to pass the disease to other people unknowingly. Getting yourself tested is the only way to find out whether you have been infected by HIV or other STIs.
Who should be tested? Screening for STIs is not routinely performed for most people. You should get yourself tested if you or your partner engages in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as:
STI and HIV testing is also strongly recommended if you:
How often should I go for a test?
STI testing need not be done routinely or regularly. However, if you constantly engage in activities that expose you to the likelihood of getting a sexually transmitted infection like HIV infection, you are encouraged to get tested at least once every 6 months and more often if you have multiple sexual partners in the course of one year.
Where can I get myself tested?
You can also get yourself tested for STIs or HIV/AIDS at Polyclinics, Private GP Clinics and hospitals.
Anonymous HIV testing is offered by Action for AIDS at the DSC clinic and at designated GP clinics. Anonymous testing does not require you to provide any name, NRIC number or contact information.
Rapid HIV testing is also now available. Rapid HIV tests are screening tests that produce very quick results, in approximately 20 minutes.
All HIV test results are kept strictly confidential.
For more information on AIDS & STIs, please contact:
24-hr AIDS/STI Helpline
6295 2944 (pre-recorded messages in 4 languages)
"We all feel sad from time to time. But when this sadness never seems to fade away, it might be a symptom of depression. Knowing how to spot depression can help protect you and your loved ones. With early detection, you can beat the blues."
What is depression?
Depression is more than feeling down or being sad. Depression may affect your work, interest in activities and quality of life. It is not a sign of weakness and it does not just 'go away'. Depression can happen to anyone.
Depression is a medical condition that affects how you think and behave, and the way you feel and function. It is one of the most common mental health problems and is faced by over 121 million people worldwide1. In Singapore, an estimated 5.6% of the population are affected by depression during their lifetime2.
Learn more about myths and common misconceptions about depression.
How to recognise depression
Depression is different from normal sadness as it interferes with your day-to-day life making it hard for you to work, rest and have fun. People with depression experience five (5) or more of the following symptoms almost every day, for two weeks or longer:
Risk factors for depression
Challenging life events can increase your risk of depression especially when you find it difficult to cope with them. Some of the life stressors that can increase the risk of depression may include:
Reducing your risk for depression
The risk for depression can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your mental well-being. Having a positive mental well-being will help you manage life challenges, solve problems and achieve your goals, thereby reducing the overall vulnerability to mental health problems.
Of the various mental disorders, depression is one of the most treatable. The World Health Organization estimates that treatment is effective for 60-80% of those affected1.
Depression can be managed using a range of different strategies including medication, counselling or psychological intervention and lifestyle changes. Treatment plans may differ, depending on the individual's symptoms and personal and medical history. As depression presents a range of symptoms that relate to our physical functioning, thinking, feelings and behavior, a combination of strategies are often employed to address these different aspects.
Medications used to treat depression are known as antidepressants. They help to regulate mood and can only be prescribed by a doctor. On average, antidepressants require three to four weeks of regular dosages before the full treatment benefit will be experienced. Even when used regularly, antidepressants are not addictive.
Counselling or psychological intervention can also help individuals cope with life stressors and reduce the symptoms of depression. These sessions focus on teaching positive styles of thinking, managing our emotions and how to deal with the symptoms of depression and day-to-day challenges. Counselling and psychological interventions may also equip people with the knowledge and skills to optimise their mental well-being, identify the early warning signs of depression and prevent further periods of depression.
When and where to seek help
There are many treatment and support options available for people who may be suffering from depression. It is recommended that you seek help once the symptoms begin to interfere with one or more aspects of your life (e.g. withdrawal from friends and social activities, decreased ability to concentrate and make decisions at work etc).
Depression is highly treatable and is most effectively managed through early detection and treatment. The earlier you seek treatment the more effective the treatment will be. Thus, it is preferable to approach your general practitioner once you experience symptoms that concern you, even if you are unsure. If you think that someone close to you may be showing signs of depression, you could speak to the person and encourage him or her to see a doctor. With early detection and help, you can beat the blues
Here's a list of mental health support services available in Singapore.
1 World Health Organization
2 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS), 2004
Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection caused by a fungus called Tinea Pedis. It also called ringworm of the foot and dermatophytosis. The condition easily spreads in public places such as crowded rooms or halls, public showers, locker rooms and fitness centers.
Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection caused by a fungus called Tinea Pedis. It also called ringworm of the foot and dermatophytosis.
The condition easily spreads in public places such as crowded rooms or halls, public showers, locker rooms and fitness centers.
Athlete s foot usually affects the spaces between the toes but can spread to toe nails and the soles and sides of the feet.
These organisms infect the superficial layer of the skin sprouting like tendrils and in response to this fungal growth, the skin becoming thick and scaly.
A group of mold-like fungi called dermatophytes (Tinea Pedis) causes athlete s foot.
The symptoms of athlete s foot include:
Most infections respond well to ointments which include:
Read more about Athlete s Foot at www.mayoclinic.com/health/athletes-foot/DS00317
HPV vaccination helps reduce the chances of getting cervical cancer. It works by preventing infection with specific types of HPV targeted by the vaccines. However, HPV vaccination does not substitute for routine cervical cancer screening. Vaccinated women should still go for regular pap smear once every three years for early detection of cervical cancer.
About HPV and its link with Cervical Cancer
What is HPV?
Risk factors for HPV infection include:
How is HPV transmitted?
What are the signs or symptoms of HPV infection?
Can HPV be treated?
How is HPV related to cervical cancer?
How can I best protect myself against cervical cancer?
Where can I go for a Pap smear?
About HPV vaccination
What is HPV vaccination?
What are the different HPV vaccines currently available in Singapore?
Protect against the following HPV sub-types 6, 11, 16, 18
Vaccination schedule 0,2 and 6 months
Approved indications: Prevention of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer and genital warts
Approved age for use: Girls and women aged 9 to 26 years, or advised by your doctor.
Protect against the following HPV sub-types 16, 18
Vaccination schedule 0, 1 and 6 months, or as advised by your doctor.
Approved indications: Prevention of cervical cancer
Approved age for use: Girls and women aged 9 to 25 years, or advised by your doctor.
Who is the vaccine for?
Who should NOT be vaccinated?
Why is the HPV vaccines recommended for females aged 9 to 26 years old?
Are HPV vaccines compulsory?
How long does the protection last?
Are the vaccines safe and effective?
What are the common side effects of HPV vaccines?
Are HPV vaccines 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer?
I ve been vaccinated. Must I still go for a Pap smear?
I m pregnant / breastfeeding. Should I be vaccinated?
I have a young daughter. Should she be vaccinated? When should she receive the vaccination?
I was diagnosed with a cervical abnormality that my doctor said may lead to cervical cancer (e.g. 'cervical intraepithelial neoplasia' or CIN). Should I get the HPV vaccination?
About Medisave use for HPV vaccination
Can Medisave be used to pay for the HPV Vaccination?
What happens if one do not have sufficient money in their medisave accounts to pay for the vaccines, is there help available?
A test using only about three drops of blood will determine in just half an hour or less if you have dengue. The benefit of the dengue diagnostic kit is the rapid and reliable results obtained
The Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital has partnered with clinics in Singapore to roll out this test kit since 2012, as part of a move to establish a primary care network to fight infectious diseases.
The test kit, called SD Dengue Duo, can be easily used by doctors or nurses in the clinic. They just need a pinprick of blood from patients, who will be given the result in 20 to 30 minutes.
A study led by the CDC in 2012 shows fewer than half of doctors routinely order diagnostic tests when they suspect someone has dengue. Those who do typically send blood samples to laboratories for tests which can take about a day.
But Dengue Duo takes just a fraction of this time and is "very comparable" in accuracy, said Professor Leo, adding that the CDC does not have a stake in the company.
The CDC tested the kit on 246 adults from October 2011 to May 2012. It found the kit had a sensitivity of 94 per cent and specificity of 92 per cent.
The former measures a test's ability to correctly identify a diseased person, while the latter measures its ability to correctly identify a disease-free person.
The downside of clinical diagnosis is that early dengue symptoms such as fever and muscle aches can be hard to distinguish from other causes, said Prof Leo. Doctors can be more confident the patient has dengue only from the fourth day, when other signs appear.
Prof Leo is aiming to form a network of GPs around the island to partner the CDC in its research and fight against diseases. "We are getting ourselves ready not only for dengue but perhaps in the future for other infectious diseases as well."
She also wants to spread the message of early diagnosis as "we are beginning to see treatment interventions becoming available".
Studies are also being done on antibodies for the two most prevalent types of dengue here.
Adapted from source: The Straits Times - (22 November 2012)
Influenza is a respiratory illness which is highly contagious. It is a serious condition because the infection, at times, can lead to complications and even death. Those who are at risk of serious flu complications like older people, young children and people with certain chronic conditions should get vaccinated.The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
Influenza, commonly known as the "flu", is a contagious disease that can affect anyone including healthy people. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs), causing inflammation of the mucous membranes.
It can be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The flu viruses are transmitted into the air through droplets and other people breathe in the viruses. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs of a person, they begin to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu. The viruses can also be spread indirectly when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it (for example, a door knob) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Transmission can also occur when an infected person shares food with others during mealtime without a serving spoon.
Causes & risk factors
Influenza is caused by the flu virus which has 3 main types: flu A, flu B and flu C. Flu A and flu B are responsible for seasonal outbreaks and epidemics. Between the two types, Flu A causes more severe cases and complications like pneumonia especially in the elderly, the very young (5 years and below) and those with chronic conditions.
Signs & symptomsFlu symptoms usually come suddenly which include high fever, sore throat, coughing, headache, muscle aches, and stuffy nose.
Other symptoms may include sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, chills, and stomach symptoms.
ComplicationsA severe case of influenza can lead to pneumonia and other complications such as bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infection and meningitis (inflammation of the lining that covers the brain).
Who is more likely to develop complications from an influenza infection?
Persons who get the flu virus may have different reactions to the illness. Some groups of people are at high risk to develop complications which could lead to death. Older people, young children, people with weakened immune system, or those with heart and lung diseases are more likely to develop serious complications due to an attack of flu.
The following are the groups at risk for complications related with influenza infection.
There are antiviral medications available to treat flu. These medications act to decrease the ability of flu viruses to reproduce. To be effective, flu antiviral drugs should be taken within first 2 days after the person gets sick. They may also help reduce the severity of flu symptoms and help the person with flu recover faster by few days. It is important to remember that these flu antiviral medications are not a substitute for flu vaccination. Getting a flu vaccine yearly is still the best way to protect you from the flu.
People who develop influenza-like symptoms should seek medical attention promptly. Strenuous physical activities like running and jogging should be avoided during the illness until complete recovery. They are advised not to go to work or school and avoid crowded places to minimise the transmission of the infection to others.
PreventionThere are many ways to prevent the spread of flu and to protect yourself against this infection. Assess the situation you are in. Do you belong to the group at risk of developing influenza-related complications? Are you regularly exposed to those at risk of complications from flu? Flu vaccination may be warranted and is the best protection for you against the flu.
Where flu vaccine availability is limited, vaccination is not required for the general population. However, everyone can practise healthy habits, good personal hygiene and be socially responsible.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Influenza vaccination, or flu vaccination for short, is most beneficial for those who have high chance of developing complications (see list above) from an influenza infection. Unless advised otherwise by your doctor, it is recommended that you go for flu vaccination even if you are healthy, especially if you live with or take care of the following people:
It is also advisable to get flu vaccination if you are a healthcare worker as you may regularly be exposed to different flu viruses. You will also be protecting your patients by preventing the spread of the virus to them.
The flu vaccination takes effect in about 2 weeks, thus it’s better to get vaccinated early before flu season starts. In Singapore, the flu season generally occurs between December and February. Another peak season is from May to July.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including hospitals, polyclinics, GP clinics and even schools. A flu vaccine can cost between $20 to $30.
Some minor side effects can be associated with flu vaccination. They are:
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As not everyone is suitable for flu vaccination, you should consult your doctor before getting vaccinated.
A yearly vaccination is recommended as flu viruses are constantly changing, and your body’s immunity to influenza viruses may decline over time. Thus, getting vaccinated every year provides the best protection against influenza.
Note: This flu vaccine does not give protection against bird flu or the H7N9. Currently, there is no vaccine for this strain.
Use of Medisave
Medisave up to $400 per year per account can be used for Influenza vaccinations for persons with higher risk of developing influenza-related complications and severe pneumococcal disease respectively.
(For vaccinations received on or after 1 Jan 2014)
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Tiong Bahru - 11A Boon Tiong Road #01-08, Singapore 161011, Tel: 63582568
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Yishun - Blk 431 Yishun Ave 1 #01-04, Singapore 760431, Tel: 63342373
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