Everyone Ages 18 and Older Can Get a Booster Shot
The following information is re-printed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
IF YOU RECEIVED
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna
You should get a booster if you are:
- Ages 50 years and older
- Ages 18 years and older and live in a long-term care setting
You may get a booster if you are:
- Ages 18 years and older
When to get a booster:
At least 6 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series
Which booster should you get?
Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States
Choosing Your COVID-19 Booster Shot
You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.
Scheduling Your Booster Shot
If you need help scheduling your booster shot, contact the location that set up your previous appointment. If you need to get your booster shot in a location different from where you received your previous shot, there are several ways you can find a vaccine provider. IF YOU RECEIVED
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines
People ages 50 years and older should get a booster shot. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and can also increase for adults of any age with underlying medical conditions.
Residents ages 18 years and older of long-term care settings should get a booster shot. Because residents in long-term care settings live closely together in group settings and are often older adults with underlying medical conditions, they are at increased risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.
People who are ages 18 years and older may get a booster shot based on their individual risks and benefits. This recommendation may change in the future as more data become available. IF YOU RECEIVED
All people ages 18 years and older who received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago should get a booster shot, for a total of two shots. A single dose of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has lower vaccine effectiveness compared to two doses.
What to Expect during and after Your Booster Shot Appointment
- Bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card to your booster shot appointment so your provider can fill in the information about your booster dose. If you did not receive a card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.
- You may experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.
- Use v-safe to tell CDC about any side effects. If you enter your booster shot in your v-safe account, the system will send you daily health check-ins.
Click here for more information.
Among the millions of Americans with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, most can point to smoking as the main reason they got the disease. Yet in about 15% of cases, people get COPD – which makes it hard to breathe and gets worse over time – after being regularly exposed to certain dusts, gases, chemical fumes or other pollutants in the workplace.
Workers in some jobs, like mining, manufacturing, housekeeping, farm work and vehicle repair, carry higher risks for work-related COPD than others. People in other jobs – for example, those in publishing or data processing, or who work in offices as administrative assistants and clerks – can be vulnerable, too. These workers can have contact with dusts and fumes from photocopiers, certain inks, paints and glues. People who are exposed at work to asbestos, pesticides, aerosol paint, dust or ash also may be at a greater risk of getting COPD.
If you work in a job that carries risks like these, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Talk to your employer about how to reduce exposures and get the right protective equipment for you. It’s also important to understand and recognize signs and symptoms of COPD.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), common symptoms of COPD include constant coughing, having a lot of mucus, tightness in your chest and shortness of breath. These may start out mild and get worse as time goes on, and you may think they are signs of aging, or even allergies. But it’s smart to be sure. Make an appointment with your health care provider as soon as you notice changes to your breathing or experience any other of the telltale symptoms.
Your health care provider will ask you questions about your family health history, your breathing, your smoking history and any pollutants you may have been exposed to at work or elsewhere. He or she will listen to your lungs and may advise that you get a spirometry test – a quick, simple way to see how well your lungs are working. Because there is no cure yet for COPD, seeing your health care provider is an important step to diagnosing the disease early and learning how to control it.
NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program provides free educational resources about COPD, including tip sheets and advice on how to manage COPD, so you can lead a full and active life. Find them at copd.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Before COVID-19, 150,000 Americans were dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) every year, and the pandemic has only worsened this crisis. An estimated 30 million Americans have COPD, and almost half – 12-15 million – do not know they have it. As the nation focuses on getting as many Americans as possible vaccinated against COVID, those with COPD are particularly vulnerable as the disease doubles the risk of COVID-related hospitalization and death.
The Dorney Koppel Foundation, along with the COPD Foundation, the American Respiratory Care Foundation, FCB Health New York, and other concerned organizations have partnered to create “COPD SOS” – a public service campaign that will air on major broadcast and cable networks including ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN throughout Summer 2021. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of COPD and to find the “missing millions”, as well as to encourage them to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
For broadcast journalist Ted Koppel and his wife, COPD activist Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, the campaign and its mission are personal. “My wife, Grace Anne, was diagnosed with very severe COPD in 2001. At the time she was told that her life-expectancy was 3-5 years. As Grace Anne puts it, she’s lived well beyond her ‘use-by’ date. We want to give others with COPD the same hope and opportunity,” said Ted Koppel. “And this mission is more urgent than ever in the face of this pandemic. We partnered around this campaign to accelerate awareness, find those unknowingly living with COPD, and get them vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Another goal of the campaign is to encourage the general public to demand that Congress take COPD seriously and provide appropriate funding for COPD research. “Congress allocated mere pennies per person for COPD research”, noted Koppel. “COPD is the third leading cause of death due to chronic illness in this country, but it ranks 176th in terms of research funding. That is inexcusable!” Grace Anne adds that the only way to change the problem of inadequate funding is for the public to demand action from Congress. “Getting Congress to provide adequate funding for COPD research is a huge barrier to overcome, but it has been overcome by other diseases”. The Koppels believe that if enough people demand action, the barrier of inadequate funding can be overcome for COPD as well.
In addition to airing public service announcements, the COPD-SOS campaign is asking everyone to take specific actions that will go a long way toward raising awareness, identifying the “missing millions” of individuals living with undiagnosed COPD, and demanding that Congress provide adequate funding. The “SOS” part of COPD-SOS is a call for action:
- Self-Assessment – Complete this 8-question self-assessment or send this link to a loved one who may be showing signs of COPD.
- Outreach – Share the COPD-SOS site, so we can work together to find the millions who have COPD but do not yet know it.
- Spending – Help us bring nationwide attention to the community ignored, so they can receive the research funding that they deserve. This campaign is collecting collecting 156,979 signatures—one for every person we lost in 2019 to chronic lower respiratory diseases like COPD—to show Congress that someone’s paying attention. Click here to sign the petition.
If you’re often short of breath during everyday activities, your chest feels tight, or you cough a lot, you may be chalking it up to getting older, having allergies, or being a smoker (now or in the past). Fortunately, there’s a way to know whether something more may be at play. Consider getting a lung function test to find out if you have a serious condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Knowing the cause of your cough and breathing problems will not only help you manage your symptoms—it’ll help you feel better, too.
COPD includes two main conditions—emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It’s usually caused by cigarette smoking or breathing in other irritants, such as dusts or chemical fumes. In a small fraction of people, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency plays a role in causing COPD. More than 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and millions more have it but don’t know it, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
COPD doesn’t have a cure at the moment, but if you seek advice from a health care provider and get diagnosed early, you can slow down this progressive disease. During your appointment, your provider will talk to you about your symptoms and your medical history, then listen to your breathing. He or she also may recommend one or more tests to help diagnose COPD.
Spirometry: A Lung Function Test
The main test for COPD is called spirometry. During this test, a technician at your health care provider’s office will ask you to sit down and put a clip on your nose, so you can breathe only through your mouth. The technician will then ask you to put your mouth around a mouthpiece, which looks like the mouthpiece on a snorkel. It’s connected to a machine that measures how well you breathe. The technician will ask you to take in a deep breath, then blow all of your air out as fast as you can. You’ll repeat that a few times. It’s painless, but it does take some effort.
Your provider will use the test results to determine how healthy your lungs are, if you have COPD and how serious it is, or if asthma or other conditions are causing your symptoms. Spirometry can also help your provider know if you have COPD before you even have symptoms, so if you’re concerned about your lung health, consider getting a spirometry test.
Ask for a lung function test if you:
- Are over age 40
- Are or were a smoker
- Feel out of breath often
- Bring up a lot of mucus when you cough
- Have already been diagnosed with a lung disease
- Have AAT deficiency
- Are concerned about your lung health
Another factor to consider when assessing your lung health is COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that has spread throughout the world. Unlike COPD, COVID-19 causes abrupt coughing and trouble breathing, so your health care provider may want to test you for it.
If you have a chronic lung disease, such as COPD, and get infected with COVID-19, you are at higher risk of getting very sick. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease. For more information on COVID-19, visit CDC.gov.
NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program provides free educational resources about COPD, videos on spirometry, and more. Find them at copd.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Respiratory Health Association (RHA) has developed a free resource book for caregivers of people living with COPD because studies show caregivers experience increased stress and often overlook caring for themselves. RHA is seeking participants for a study on the effectiveness of our new resources, as part of their Caring for COPD Caregivers project.
Participants will receive a free copy of the COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit, a resource that helps with variety of issues you may face while caregiving. The Toolkit is yours to keep after the project has ended. You will be asked to use it for one year and give RHA an update every few months on how you have used it, which parts have been most helpful, and if it has helped you in your role as a COPD caregiver. You will also take a brief survey at the beginning and end of the project about your role, feelings, and experiences as a caregiver.
If you sign up during the month of October, you will also be entered in a drawing for one of two $25 Visa gift cards.
Participation is voluntary and all responses will be kept confidential. Your identifying information will not be shared. Interested in participating? Click here to take the first survey. Know a COPD caregiver who might benefit from the resource? Please share this information with them. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Caring for COPD Caregivers, please contact us at 312-229-6186 or COPDToolkit@resphealth.org.
Marrah E. Lachowicz-Scroggins, Louis J. Vuga, Aaron D. Laposky, Marishka Brown, Koyeli Banerjee, Thomas L. Croxton, and James P. Kiley – Division of Lung Diseases, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
We celebrate World Lung Day 2021 with a somber tone, realizing that the past year has likely seen more deaths related to lung disease than at any other point in our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided both an unwelcome reminder of the lung’s vulnerability to environmental microbes and toxins and a striking demonstration of how scientific research can improve care and patient outcomes. Respiratory health providers—pulmonary and critical care physicians and respiratory therapists—have shown extraordinary dedication, consummate skill, and even heroism in responding to COVID-19, and it is noteworthy that the medical community associated with this journal has never looked better. But the pandemic has also shown light on how little we understand about individual factors that determine lung susceptibility and resilience—factors such as age, race/ethnicity, and sex/gender. In particular, males have suffered more from COVID-19 than females, both by cases and by deaths (1, 2). This is especially interesting because it is opposite to what is typical for chronic lung diseases, namely, a slight to threefold predominance of female cases. The pandemic reminds us not only of the need to address health inequities but also of the complexity of that issue, which often interweaves women and men differently among the threads of race, poverty, geography, environment, education, and health-care access (3, 4). In this editorial, we look beyond the pandemic and highlight women’s lung health—a longstanding issue that would benefit from greater research interest and intensity.
BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BASES OF SEX/GENDER DIFFERENCES IN LUNG HEALTH AND DISEASE
Women’s lung health has roots in the prenatal period when sex hormones and exposures in the womb drive differences in early lung development, anatomy, and physiology (3). Sex differences in lung development and maturation can be observed as early as 16 wk of gestation, where androgens increase airway branching in males resulting in larger lungs with more bronchioles at birth (4). In adulthood, these prenatal androgen exposures result in larger airway diameters, more alveoli, and increased lung volume in men when compared with women (5). Sex, hormones, and gender continue to impact lung health across the lifespan with differences in risk, susceptibility, and resilience to lung diseases (6, 7). Effects of sex steroids on chronic lung diseases often involve their roles in immune cell function and lung inflammation (8), but this biological difference is insufficient to explain the diverse and profound differences in morbidity and mortality that women experience throughout their lifetimes (9, 10). Gender differences are also driven by a host of external factors (11, 12). Research on women’s health must consider both the biological perspective, which operates at the genetic, molecular, cellular, and physiological levels and the social/environmental perspective, which operates at the individual, community, and societal levels.
IMPACT OF CHRONIC LUNG DISEASES ON WOMEN’S HEALTH
Sex and gender have key roles in disparities for chronic lung diseases. Chronic pulmonary diseases have high morbidity and are the third leading cause of death for women in the United States (13). Both epidemiology and clinical presentation for chronic lung disease can differ between women and men. Asthma prevalence is more common in boys during childhood; however, incidence rates increase for girls around puberty when rates decrease in males (14). In adulthood, asthma is more prevalent in women regardless of race, and exacerbation rates, hospitalizations, and mortality are higher among women (15). Asthma severity can also be modulated by body weight and sex hormones (16). In the United States, rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in women have been rising since 2008 and now exceed those of men. COPD is a leading cause of death among women, particularly those with comorbidities (17). A notably different example is how sex can alter disease course in cystic fibrosis (CF) with what is known as the “CF Gender Gap.” In CF, estrogen has profound impact on the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the formation of biofilms which enable bacterial persistence (18). Similar mechanisms may contribute in other chronic lung diseases associated with bronchiectasis, where there are clear gender differences in onset, association to underlying disease, morbidity, and mortality (19). Other mechanisms are likely at play in autoimmune diseases affecting the lung, which include sarcoidosis, systemic sclerosis (SSc), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus—all of which are more common in women than men (20). The pulmonary impact of autoimmune diseases may be aggravated by co-occurring pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which is often progressive leading to right heart failure and death. Women are twice as likely than men to develop PAH (21), including in the context of autoimmune disease. PAH in patients with SSc who develop interstitial lung disease is associated with increased morbidity, resistance to PAH therapy, and overall poorer health outcomes (22, 23). As systemic sclerosis occurs more commonly in women, they represent an at-risk group for PAH (24, 25). An even more prevalent autoimmune condition with increased rates of lung disease is rheumatoid arthritis. The rate of RA in women is nearly threefold greater than in men, with earlier disease onset and highest incidence around menopause. Extra-articular manifestations include several forms of interstitial lung diseases with clear sex differences in clinical presentation (26, 27). Another autoimmune condition that is more common among women is sarcoidosis. Although the cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown, evidence suggests that underlying genetic and other risk factors for sarcoidosis include sex, race, socioeconomic status, and gene-environment interactions (GxE) (28).
SLEEP DISPARITIES IN WOMEN’S HEALTH
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition characterized by repetitive episodes of partial or complete upper airway collapse during sleep, resulting in restricted airflow, oxygen desaturation, and sleep fragmentation. Conservatively, 4%–7% of women exhibit OSA, with higher prevalence in women who are overweight/obese, postmenopausal, and pregnant (29, 30). Sleep apnea is associated with increased risk for many conditions impacting women, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, and dementia (31). Although OSA is treatable, the majority of women with OSA fail to receive an appropriate diagnosis (29). The classic stereotype for OSA is an obese, middle-aged male with chronic snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness; however, important sex/gender differences exist in clinical presentation. Women with OSA more frequently report fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty sleeping—symptoms that are not primarily queried in most apnea risk assessment tools. Research is needed to improve methods for apnea risk detection, reducing bias due to sex differences in symptom presentation. The diagnosis of OSA is based on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which measures the number of apneas and hypopneas that occur per hour of sleep. Women tend to have lower AHI compared with men, shorter duration of apneas, and less severe oxygen desaturation, but in certain cases, the health risks they incur associated with apnea are the same or even greater than in men (e.g., elevated high-sensitivity cardiac troponin levels, increased left ventricular mass, incident heart failure, impaired endothelial function, and brain white matter loss) (10). Furthermore, recent studies have shown that women are susceptible to subtle airflow limitation (AFL), which does not meet AHI criteria but nonetheless triggers arousal from sleep, sympathetic activation, and potentially other pathophysiological effects (32). These findings suggest that assessment and diagnostic criteria may need to be redefined, considering sex/gender-specific sleep-disordered breathing symptoms and clinical phenotypes.
SEX/GENDER DIFFERENCES IN SARS-CoV-2 INFECTION
Sex/gender differences are apparent both during acute infection with SARS-CoV-2 and for the postacute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC, “long-COVID”). Research in this area is perhaps a model for that on other diseases, since the norm has been to report results in a sex-disaggregated manner and to routinely consider sex as a biological variable (SABV) in COVID-related studies (33, 34). This rigor has quickly yielded compelling data on sex and racial disparities in COVID-19 with the level of detail that is needed for nuanced interpretations. For example, a recent publication confirmed that, although men have higher mortality rates than women overall, this sex disparity does not hold across racial groups (35, 36). In fact, COVID-19 mortality rates for Black women are higher than rates for both men and women of either White or Asian/Pacific Islander ancestry. In addition, women appear to be much more prone to developing PASC, as evidenced by greater morbidity and health-care utilization after COVID infection (37).
This brief overview of women’s lung health illuminates many opportunities for research. It remains critically important for all clinical researchers to include adequate numbers of women in their study populations and to report results in a sex-disaggregated manner. There is also a need for specifically designed studies to investigate the etiology origins of sex/gender differences and to develop and test approaches for reducing disparities. A crude analysis of the grant portfolio of the Division of Lung Disease, using the NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) system, suggests that among all grants on lung diseases funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the past 5 years (Fig. 1), only 3% are specifically directed to issues of women’s health. NIH is taking positive action to address this situation. In May 2014, NIH stated clearly that rigor and transparency in research requires researchers to account for sex as a biological variable (SABV), and NIH identified this as a requirement in most NIH-funded research. This was expanded in 2018 to include consideration of age across the lifespan. These policies have implications for preclinical research (38), and they encourage the research community to go well beyond the simple inclusion of both sexes in their studies. For example, we need clinical study/trial designs that test strategies for personalized medicine that are inspired by the distinctive risks and disease mechanisms of women (13, 38). Although we affirm efforts by the research community to improve transparency and rigor in the reporting of clinical research studies (39), the time has come to move beyond the use of metrics developed and validated in male-dominated studies (e.g., sleep apnea, AHI) and that test interventions that target mechanisms that are particularly relevant to diseases as experienced by women. Furthermore, future research on women’s health should not only investigate biological differences associated with sex/gender but also explore how women are affected by disease in the broad context of external factors such as social determinants of health. To address these disparities in lung health across the lifespan research in health education, early intervention and primary prevention are areas much in need of stimulation (40, 41). This type of interdisciplinary work may be aided by expanding the capacity of the research community, especially with regard to recruitment and advancement of women scientists. NIH provides tangible support for such efforts through the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) K12 program (42). NHLBI wholly supports the 2019–2023 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research (43) and is further advancing research on women’s health through the Institute’s Strategic Vision and through the creation of a Women’s Health Working Group in 2015 (44). We encourage the research community to partner with us to better understand the role of sex/gender in lung health through interdisciplinary research and to work toward the elimination of disparities in lung health. World Lung Day 2021 is an opportune time to reflect not only on the seriousness of lung disease but also on the tremendous opportunities that exist today for impactful research that can improve lung health for every member of our societies.
The preceding editorial is reprinted from the American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. Click here for a PDF version with references.
Diagnostic errors occur in all care settings and one in three patients will experience a diagnostic error firsthand. Research suggests that communication breakdowns during the patient-provider encounter are a leading contributor to diagnostic errors.
To promote enhanced communication and information sharing within the patient-provider encounter, the AHRQ has developed a toolkit. This toolkit is designed to help patients, families, and health professionals work together as partners to improve diagnostic safety.
About the Toolkit
The toolkit contains two strategies, Be The Expert On You and 60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety. When paired together, these strategies enhance communication and information sharing within the patient-provider encounter to improve diagnostic safety. Each strategy contains practical materials to support adoption of the strategy within office-based practices.
What Is Be The Expert On You?
Be The Expert On You is a patient-facing strategy that prepares patients and their families to tell their personal health stories in a clear, concise way. Research suggests that 79 percent of diagnostic errors are related to the patient-clinician encounter and up to 56 percent of these errors are related to miscommunication during the encounter. Environmental scan findings show that inviting patients to share their entire health story, uninterrupted, and in a way that gives clinicians the information they need can reduce diagnostic errors.
What Is 60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety?
60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety prepares providers to practice deep and reflective listening for one minute at the start of a patient-encounter. Research suggests that patients are interrupted by their providers in the first 11 to 18 seconds of telling their diagnostic story. Diagnostic safety can be improved when a provider allows a patient to tell his or her health story without interruption for one minute, and then asks questions to deepen understanding.
Ready To Start?
The Toolkit Implementation Roadmap (PDF, 311 KB) is the starting point for your implementation and should help you plan your strategy for adopting each intervention.
Step 1: Prepare Your Organization
- Toolkit Infographic (PDF, 743 KB) provides statistics about incidents of diagnostic errors that are useful to engage leadership and raise awareness of the problem.
Step 2: Make a Plan
- Be The Expert on You Planning Worksheet (PDF, 219 KB) helps teams plan to implement the patient-facing strategy.
- 60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety Planning Worksheet (PDF, 308 KB) helps teams plan to implement the provider-facing strategy.
- Evaluation Planning Tool (PDF, 205 KB) provides several recommended approaches to measure success of the toolkit and its impact on patients, providers, and practices.
Step 3: Train Your Team
- One-Page Handout for Staff Training (PDF, 138 KB) can be used to help staff get comfortable introducing the Share Your Story note sheet to patients.
- Provider Training Slides (PowerPoint, 1.6 MB) is a short slide presentation with speaker’s notes to help train providers on how to get started with the 60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety strategy..
- Practice Orientation and Training Slides (PowerPoint, 3.4 MB) can be adapted to how your practice is implementing the toolkit.
Step 4: Implement and Evaluate
- Be The Expert On You Note Sheet in English (PDF, 423 KB) and Spanish (PDF, 720 KB) provides patients with support to be ready for their visit and to share their diagnostic story with providers.
- Patient Exit Survey (PDF, 410 KB) provides a three-question survey that can be used to evaluate the impact of the toolkit from the patient’s perspective.
- 60 Seconds To Improve Diagnostic Safety Provider Feedback Survey (PDF, 225 KB) provides a short survey that can be used to evaluate the impact of the toolkit from the provider’s perspective.
- Combined reference list (PDF, 351.KB)
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. We know the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life, including your ability to attend important appointments and receive routine vaccinations. During NIAM, we encourage you to talk to your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional to ensure you and your family are protected against serious diseases by getting caught up on routine vaccination.
August is also a critical time for those who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination, check out the following websites:
The following is excerpted from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health
What’s the Bottom Line?
What do we know about the effectiveness of complementary approaches for flu and colds?
- No complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful for the flu.
- For colds:
- Complementary approaches that have shown some promise include oral zinc products, rinsing the nose and sinuses (with a neti pot or other device), honey (as a nighttime cough remedy for children), vitamin C (for people under severe physical stress), probiotics, and meditation.
- Approaches for which the evidence is conflicting, inadequate, or mostly negative include vitamin C (for most people), echinacea, garlic, and American ginseng.
What do we know about the safety of complementary approaches for colds and flu?
- People can get severe infections if they use neti pots or other nasal rinsing devices improperly. Tap water isn’t safe for use as a nasal rinse unless it has been filtered, treated, or processed in specific ways.
- Zinc products used in the nose (such as nasal gels and swabs) have been linked to a long-lasting or even permanent loss of the sense of smell.
- Using a dietary supplement to prevent colds often involves taking it for long periods of time. However, little is known about the long-term safety of some dietary supplements studied for prevention of colds, such as American ginseng and probiotics.
- Complementary approaches that are safe for some people may not be safe for others. Your age, health, special circumstances (such as pregnancy), and medicines or supplements that you take may affect the safety of complementary approaches.
Some Basics About Flu and Colds
Each year, Americans get more than 1 billion colds, and between 5 and 20 percent of Americans get the flu. The two diseases have some symptoms in common, and both are caused by viruses. However, they are different conditions, and the flu is more severe. Unlike the flu, colds generally don’t cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, or lead to hospitalization.
No vaccine can protect you against the common cold, but vaccines can protect you against the flu. Everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu each year. Vaccination is the best protection against getting the flu.
Prescription antiviral drugs may be used to treat the flu in people who are very ill or who are at high risk of flu complications. They’re not a substitute for getting vaccinated. Vaccination is the first line of defense against the flu; antivirals are the second. If you think you’ve caught the flu, you may want to check with your health care provider to see whether antiviral medicine is appropriate for you. Call promptly. The drugs work best if they’re used early in the illness.
Click here to read the full article and learn what the science says about complimentary health approaches to colds and flu.
To find out more about flu and colds, visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Web site.
The following is reprinted from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s COVID-19 website.
Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have symptoms when they were infected can have post-COVID conditions. These conditions can have different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.
CDC and experts around the world are working to learn more about short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, who gets them, and why.
Types of Post-COVID Conditions
Long COVID is a range of symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 or can appear weeks after infection. Long COVID can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness was mild, or they had no symptoms. People with long COVID report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Loss of smell or taste
- Dizziness on standing
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Joint or muscle pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
Multiorgan Effects of COVID-19
Multiorgan effects can affect most, if not all, body systems including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions. Multiorgan effects can also include conditions that occur after COVID-19, like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) and autoimmune conditions. MIS is a condition where different body parts can become swollen. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing painful swelling in the affected parts of the body.
It is unknown how long multiorgan system effects might last and whether the effects could lead to chronic health conditions.
Effects of COVID-19 Treatment or Hospitalization
Post-COVID conditions also can include the longer-term effects of COVID-19 treatment or hospitalization. Some of these longer-term effects are similar to those related to hospitalization for other respiratory infections or other conditions.
Effects of COVID-19 treatment and hospitalization can also include post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which refers to health effects that remain after a critical illness. These effects can include severe weakness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD involves long-term reactions to a very stressful event.
There are ways to help manage post-COVID conditions, and many patients with these symptoms are getting better with time. If you think you have a post-COVID condition, talk to your healthcare provider about options for managing or treating your symptoms and resources for support. Post-COVID care clinics are opening at medical centers across the United States to address patient needs.
The best way to prevent these long-term complications is to prevent COVID-19
Important Ways to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
COVID-19 and Vaccination
CDC recommends that people be vaccinated regardless of whether they already had COVID-19. Learn more about vaccination.
Although media articles have reported that some people with long COVID say their symptoms improved after being vaccinated, studies are needed to determine the effects of vaccination on post-COVID conditions.
What CDC is Doing
CDC continues to work to identify how common these longer-term effects are, who is most likely to get them, and whether symptoms eventually resolve. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate post-COVID conditions. These studies will help us better understand post-COVID conditions and understand how to treat patients with these longer-term effects.