An Apple a Day


Welcome to my blog – An Apple a Day! This is where I hope you and I can have a conversation about all things health-related.

This column is meant to be an opportunity for you to learn my thoughts on everything from healthy living and fitness to immunizations and protecting yourself from infectious disease.

It’s a chance for me to share my ideas on how to optimize all we know about the latest and greatest in health science and innovation to keep you and your family happy and well. And you’ll get to read up on all the many things happening here at the County of Riverside Department of Health. Of course, there are a lot of pretty incredible things happening here— community forums, informative programs and comprehensive services, all designed to support your health and wellness goals.

Check in every week for a new blog where we will begin a journey towards your best health – together. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @rivcodoc and Facebook.

                                      Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Public Health Officer 


Simple message: Don’t get high and drive

December 28, 2017

The message has always been clear: drinking alcohol and driving is wrong and the consequences of mixing the two has been devastating to so many.

But just because the law changed for marijuana in California doesn’t make it any more legal -- or any less dangerous -- to be high and drive. Public health, law enforcement and community leaders agree: using marijuana and getting behind the wheel is wrong, and the consequences of mixing the two can be just as devastating.

This message gets more important as the state begins licensing commercial nonmedical cannabis sales on January 1, under the provisions of Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Alcohol-impaired driving is still the most serious problem on our roadways according to the state of California, but the percentage of drivers in fatal collisions who have other impairing substances in their system keeps rising. 

From 2005 to 2015, the percentage of drivers in fatal collisions who had an impairing drug other than alcohol in their system increased from 26.2 percent to 42.6 percent, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  As far back as 2012, a roadside survey in California showed more drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent).  Of the drugs, cannabis was most prevalent at 7.4 percent, even slightly more than alcohol.

Those who choose to use marijuana, like those who drink alcohol, have a duty to act responsibly. Like alcohol, marijuana for non-medical use is now legal, but it can be dangerous if not used responsibly. Some who may balk at the idea of getting behind the wheel after a few beers or glasses of wine may not give it a second thought to drive after a bong hit or toke, or even a special brownie. And they’d be dead wrong.

We all accept the idea of a designated driver or taxi ride for those who drink alcohol, so let’s do the same for those who choose to ingest pot. The message is clear, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs: if you take them, you have a responsibility to avoid driving while you’re impaired. Don’t get high and drive.

Find out more about how Public Health and our health partners assist those with questions about marijuana and its health effects. To learn more, go to www.rivcoph.org

The County of Riverside Department of Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page.


The flu shot is your best shot at preventing the flu

December 12, 2017

Flu season is never easy to predict. Several months into the flu season, there have been recent news reports and social media postings concerning the effectiveness of the current influenza vaccine, with some suggesting the vaccine is only 10 percent effective.

It would be unfortunate if those reports led to people deciding to forgo their flu shot or decide not to get the vaccination for their children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says even though the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine can range widely from season to season, the flu shot is the most effective method available to prevent getting the flu and its associated complications. Unfortunately, the CDC says, less than half of the U.S. population actually got the shot in recent influenza seasons.

At this point it’s too early to clearly pinpoint the effectiveness of the current vaccine. The reports on the effectiveness of the current vaccine are based on initial results in Australia, which, while informative, don’t necessarily reflect what will happen in the U.S. Currently, the vast majority of the influenza viruses the CDC has found circulating are covered by the vaccine already.

In addition, it’s been shown that those who get influenza after getting the flu shot have less severe symptoms, even in those years where the flu shot actually does turn out to be less of a match.

According to the CDC, influenza vaccination prevents millions of infections and medical visits and tens of thousands of influenza-associated hospitalizations each year in the U.S., even when the effective rate is between 30 and 60 percent. Even if it were just 10 percent, that’s still a 10 percent reduction in your chances of getting sick from it.
In addition to vaccination, there are other things you can do to stop the spread of the flu:

Wash your hands: Every year, millions of patients become needlessly sickened by an infectious disease. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly can go a long way in preventing illness. And even though we certainly want them to get well, avoid hugs, kisses and hand-shaking with someone who is ill.

Stay home: If you fall ill, by all means stay home so that you will not spread the flu to others. The CDC recommends that you “stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.”


New HIV/AIDS data gives a clearer picture of Riverside County

November 28, 2017 

As a physician, I know that having accurate information is critical to care properly for my patients.

The same can be said for a community’s health – using the most accurate and up-to-date information is important to provide the best care for the residents we serve. For those living with HIV/AIDS, this is even more critical because of the importance of providing resources in areas where they are the most needed.

Riverside University Health System-Public Health has just released a report showing a 51 percent increase in the estimate of those living with HIV/AIDS in Riverside County. This hike is due to a change in the way state health officials collect data on those battling HIV/AIDS, not that there has been a spike in the frequency of the illness. Previously, there were 5,552 cases reported for 2016 (the latest figure available) in Riverside County, compared to 8,404 under the new calculations for that same period. The rate per 100,000 of population increased from 236 to 357 during that same time.

We’ve always suspected the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was higher than previously reported. This data gives us a more accurate picture of what’s happening in Riverside County and the challenges facing patients, medical providers and the systems that serve them. In turn, this helps us to plan where state and local resources can do the most good, and to work towards getting people with HIV/AIDS into care and helping to prevent new cases from occurring.

Thanks to medical advances and new treatments, HIV and AIDS have changed from virtual death sentences to chronic diseases, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do. Improving our statistics and our data gives us a clearer picture of how to serve this community and one day help stop HIV for good. In the long run, it’s interventions like these that will help everyone in our community live longer, healthier lives.

Find out more about how Public Health and our health partners assist those living with HIV/AIDS through Public Health’s HIV/STD program. To learn more, go to www.rivcoph.org or click on the link to see the report. 

The County of Riverside Department of Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page.


It’s time to talk about diabetes

November 13, 2017

November is American Diabetes Month. So, that means that it’s a good time to talk about the things you can do to keep you and your family healthy and free from diabetes.

The bad news is that one in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in four Americans don’t even know they have it.

Even worse, another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, most people – 9 out of 10 – suffer from type 2 diabetes. Like type 1 diabetics, type 2 diabetics also can’t regulate their blood sugar, but unlike type 1 diabetics who can’t produce insulin, type 2 diabetics can’t respond to the insulin that’s already there. Both types of diabetes have severe complications including heart disease and stroke, blindness and kidney disease.

According to the CDC, risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Having prediabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).
  • Being overweight.
  • Being 45 years or older.
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week.
  • Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.

The good news is, in many cases, a diabetes diagnosis can be avoided or delayed by making just a few lifestyle changes: eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, walk or exercise daily, avoid sugary beverages and drink plenty of water instead and strive to avoid stress with a good balance of work and home life. 

To learn more, make an appointment your healthcare provider and visit www.cdc.gov

The County of Riverside Department of Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.


Protect yourself and your family against influenza

 

October 10, 2017

 

It’s that time of year. Flu season is here, so now is the time to protect yourself and your family against the flu.

 

Getting a flu shot is the best way to do that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. But there other things you can do to stay healthy and free from illness.

 

Wash your hands: Every year, millions of patients become needlessly sickened by an infectious disease. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly can go a long way in preventing illness. And strive to avoid hugs, kisses and hand-shaking with someone who is ill.

 

Stay home: If you become stricken, by all means stay home so that you will not spread the flu to others. The CDC recommends that you “stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.”

 

Be hands free: Keep your hands clean and washed, and avoid touching your face whenever possible. This particularly includes your eyes, nose and mouth because you’ll not only spread whatever germs you have, you’ll more easily infect yourself and others.

 

Eat healthy: One of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat healthy and keep physically active. Fruits, vegetables and plenty of water and exercise will help to fortify your immune system against illness.

 

Ready for that flu shot? Make an appointment with your health care provider or visit www.rivcoimm.org for a list of locations offering FREE flu vaccinations throughout Riverside County.

 

Stay healthy, Riverside County!

 

The County of Riverside Department of Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.