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21 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 January, 2019 11:48:48 PM

Viral infections

You should always speak with your healthcare provider before being vaccinated to determine what vaccines you need and when you should get them.
Viral infections

A viral infection is any type of infection that is caused by a virus, which is even smaller than bacteria and is encapsulated by a protective coating so it is more difficult to kill than bacteria. This is why it is so difficult to treat viral infections. Viruses cannot grow or exist, though, without host cells.

Viral infections can cause illnesses as minor as the common cold and as severe as AIDS.

Antibiotics do not kill viruses and the use of them for viral infections just leads to antibiotic resistance. There are only a few antiviral medications available to treat very specific viruses, and they are not always effective. There are vaccines, though, available to help prevent many viral infections. If you have a minor illness and your health care provider tells you that it is a viral infection, the best thing to do is just let it run its course.

Antiviral medication for the Flu

What are antiviral medications?

Antiviral medications are a class of drugs that are typically used to prevent or shorten the duration of the influenza virus. They are considered a second line of defense against the flu. Four different antiviral medications are currently approved for use in the United States. They include Tamiflu (oseltamavir), Relenza (zanamavir), amantadine and rimantadine. However, the flu virus is extremely resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, so these two medications are not recommended to prevent or treat influenza at this time.

When to use antiviral medications

Your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral medications for you:

When you have the flu and want to shorten the duration of the symptoms. In this case, the medication must be started within the first 48 hours of symptoms to be effective.

When you are in close contact with someone who has the flu, such as a family member (paired with the vaccine)

When there is a widespread outbreak in your community and you or someone you are close to are at high risk for complications (paired with the vaccine)

When you may be exposed to the flu and the flu shot is not effective, or you cannot get it because of an allergy

How to use antiviral medications

Each medication is given in a different way and may not be appropriate for certain groups of people. Your healthcare provider can determine which medication is right for you and your situation.

The bottom line

Antiviral medications can be very useful in helping prevent or shorten the duration of the flu. However, they should not replace flu vaccines as your primary means of prevention. Because all of the antiviral medications are available only be prescription, it is important to see your healthcare provider if you believe you have the flu or may need antiviral medications to prevent it. Only your healthcare provider can determine what is best for you and your situation.

Antibiotics resistance

Antibiotics are a very common type of medication -- they also happen to be quite misunderstood. While they are effective at treating many bacterial infections, antibiotics will not treat viral illness (such as the cold and flu) and have been overused for years. Because of this overuse, we are now dealing with the problem of antibiotic resistance. This means that the antibiotics we have used for years are no longer effective at treating the bacteria they were designed to kill.

So why do we continue to use antibiotics for viral illnesses? There are a couple of reasons, none of which are particularly good.

Patients get frustrated with their symptoms and pressure doctors into prescribing antibiotics. Some of the reasons that people believed antibiotics were necessary included:

Fever

Symptoms lasting longer than 5 days

Nasal drainage that is any color other than clear

Unfortunately, none of these reasons in and of themselves mean that you need antibiotics.

Doctors believe their patients expect antibiotics, even though they may not demand or ask for them.

It is clear that a lot of education is needed for both the public and healthcare providers. Although most doctors and other healthcare providers know that antibiotics will not treat viral illnesses, they need to be better equipped to educate their patients about antibiotic resistance. Some common illnesses that typically do require antibiotic treatment include:

Strep throat

Pneumonia

Many ear infections (although there is increasing evidence that many ear infections will resolve without antibiotics)

Urinary tract infections

Sinus infections

Viral illnesses that cannot be treated with antibiotics include:

Colds

The Flu

Most rashes

Many coughs

Changing the way people look at medications and illnesses is not an easy task. In the past, it was thought that even though an antibiotic may not help a patient get better any faster, it wouldn't do any harm. But now we know that the opposite is true. By prescribing these antibiotics so frequently and needlessly, viruses and bacteria have become stronger and more resistant to the medications we have. This makes it necessary to develop new drugs that are stronger, which usually pose more severe side effects -- and no patient wants that.

So the next time you get sick and feel like you may need antibiotics, take a good look at your situation and discuss it with your healthcare provider. If he or she tells you that you have a virus, don't push for antibiotics. The typical viral illness lasts between 7 and 10 days, which also happens to be the amount of time it takes for a typical round of antibiotics to be fully effective. Either way, you should get better in about a week. And holding off on the antibiotics will help you avoid unpleasant side effects and potentially stronger illnesses in the future.

Vaccines for adults

Kids get a lot of vaccinations when they are little, but many parents and other adults forget that they may need immunizations too. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for certain diseases. In some cases, depending on age and other factors, adults may be more at risk for these diseases than children. So make sure you check with your healthcare provider and keep up to date on your immunizations no matter what your age. It just might save your life.

Tetanus (Td or Tdap)

After the initial series of tetanus shots as a child (included in the Dtap), all adults need a booster every 10 years. It is recommended that one of those be replaced with a Tdap to protect against whooping cough (pertussis) at some point between the ages of 19 and 64.

Pneumonia

All persons over the age of 65 should have a pneumonia vaccine one time. If you have risk factors putting you at higher risk for the disease, you may need this vaccinations before you turn 65. People with chronic illnesses and suppressed immune systems will need this vaccine every 5 years.

Influenza

The current recommendations for flu shots are that all children under 18 and all adults over the age of 50 receive the vaccination yearly. It is also recommended as a yearly vaccination for anyone between the ages of 19 and 49 who meets at-risk criteria.

MMR

If you have not had an MMR vaccine and have never had measles, mumps or rubella (german measles), you may need the vaccine. One or two doses are recommended if you are between the ages of 19 and 49 and one dose is recommended for those over the age of 50 who are at high risk for these diseases.

HPV

The HPV vaccine is a relatively new vaccine to prevent certain types of cervical cancer. It is recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 24 and needs to be given in three doses.

Varicella (Chickenpox)

The varicella vaccine is recommended for all adults who have never had the vaccine and have never had the chickenpox disease. This vaccine is given in two separate doses.

Hepatitis A

The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all adults who are at high risk for the disease. It is given in two doses.

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all adults who meet high-risk criteria for the disease. It is given in three doses.

Meningococcal

The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adults who are at high risk. It protects against certain types of meningitis and pneumonia. One or more doses may be necessary depending on your risk factors and your doctor’s recommendations.

Zoster (Shingles)

One dose of herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for all adults over the age of 60. It protects against shingles, regardless of whether the person has had the disease before or not.

Important note

These recommendations apply to healthy, non-pregnant adults. If you are pregnant or have a chronic illness with severe immunosuppression (such as HIV or you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation) the recommendations for vaccination may vary significantly. You should always speak with your healthcare provider before being vaccinated to determine what vaccines you need and when you should get them.n

Sources:

About.com, Medlineplus ,

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention

 

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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