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Q&A – Fall 2013

Q:

Flu season is just around the corner. What’s the best way to keep protected from the virus?

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A:

“Vaccination is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu. Infants younger than six months and those with some pre-existing conditions can’t get the vaccination themselves, so having others in the household get vaccinated makes a big difference. Practicing good hand hygiene is another protection measure. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds to kill germs, which can be found in hot spots such as doorknobs, keyboards, cellphones, and handshakes. Finally, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing.”

No soap available?

Hand sanitizers are a great option when hand washing isn’t readily available. They can reduce the amount of bacteria and germs on your hands by up to 99 percent.

Jeffrey Kahn, MD, Ph.D.
Professor, Pediatrics and Microbiology

Q:

I have a paralyzed vocal cord. How long should it take to recover my voice?

A:

“The conventional teaching is to ask patients to wait up to 12 months, because in some cases the injury can heal and the voice will recover. That practice is no longer supported by newer data. We now know that most recoverable cases of vocal cord paralysis show signs of recovery by four to six months. If there is no change by six months, then the likelihood of spontaneous recovery is low, and some type of corrective surgery should be discussed. More importantly, there are ways of making the voice stronger even before the injury heals. A vocal cord injection can be done in the doctor’s office to make the voice stronger so patients can continue to function at work while awaiting potential recovery. In today’s workplace, waiting and seeing is simply no longer acceptable for many patients.”

Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Laryngology and Professional Voice

Q:

Do women exhibit heart disease symptoms differently than men?

A:

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men, and the main risk factors are the same – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and family history. However, women tend to develop heart disease later in life by about a decade, and sometimes by the time it’s diagnosed it’s more severe because it’s been going on for a while. I find that the way women describe certain symptoms varies, as does the way they are experiencing them. So to effectively diagnose heart disease in women, you have to be open-minded about the way symptoms are explained. Listening is the best way to initiate an effective treatment plan.”

Other heart disease risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Katy Lonergan, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine