What to Know for the 2020-2021 Flu Season

The flu season is upon us. The exact timing of flu season changes from year to year, but influenza tends to become more common starting in October and then ramp up from there, with the most virus activity occurring between December and February.

Here are some of the most common questions about influenza and the 2020-2021 flu season:

What is the flu?
More formally known as influenza, flu is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s contagious and can range from mild to severe, in some cases even leading to death.

What are some common flu symptoms?
Influenza affects the respiratory system, so you’ll notice many symptoms related to your throat, nose, and lungs. Some of the most common symptoms include a sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, fever, body and muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. 

It’s important to seek medical care right away if you experience more severe symptoms and complications, such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, seizures, lack of urination, severe weakness or muscle pain, confusion, persistent dizziness.

Should I get a flu shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly everyone who is six months old or older should get a flu vaccine. Even though the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective in preventing the flu, the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting it.

While the vaccine is safe and recommended for most people, there are some exceptions, including people with allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients and people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome in the past. If you have any questions about getting a flu shot, it’s a good idea to seek guidance from a healthcare provider.

When is the best time to get a flu shot?
After getting a flu shot it takes about two weeks for your body to develop flu antibodies (these help protect you from getting sick if you come in contact with the influenza virus), so it’s a good idea to get your flu shot before the virus starts spreading widely in your community. Early fall is a good time, but if you forget or are unable to get one then for some reason, flu shots are usually still available later into the flu season.

What flu vaccines are recommended this flu season?
This season’s flu vaccines were updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States. For the 2020-2021 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference for any one vaccine over another.

Can I have flu and COVID-19 simultaneously?
It’s possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 or another respiratory illness at the same time, though researchers aren’t sure how common this will be. With the possibility that the flu and coronavirus will both be spreading at the same time this winter, the CDC says getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever before. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Stress is Soaring During the Coronavirus Pandemic, So Are Divorce Rates

Tensions have been running high since the coronavirus pandemic swept the country earlier this year, and divorce rates in the United States have increased. In a recent survey by Legal Templates, 31% of couples say the quarantine has been damaging to their relationship. The company has also seen a 34% increase in sales of its divorce agreement template compared to this time last year.

For many couples, much of the conflict occurred early in the pandemic—survey results revealed that interest in separation was at its highest on April 13. Spending much more time at home with our loved ones can be tricky—especially when many people are also trying to work from home and care for children, too. Add in financial strain and a pandemic of unprecedented scale, and the soaring divorce rates make sense.

“It’s possible that divorces spiked as people entered what mental health and human service professionals refer to as the “disillusionment phase” of the Phases of Disaster— the time when optimism turns to discouragement, stress heightens, and negative reactions often occur,” Legal Templates commented in its survey results. 

The survey revealed a number of interesting trends—couples who got married within the past five years accounted for 58% of survey respondents who said they are pursuing a divorce during the coronavirus pandemic. Among this subset of people, this rate is 16% higher than it was last year. Meanwhile, 20% of users purchased a divorce agreement after being married for less than five months.

Another interesting finding from the survey is that couples in the South are purchasing divorce agreements at twice or even three-times the rate of couples in other geographical regions of the country.

It’s interesting to look at these findings and see how the pandemic is affecting us in many ways beyond the virus itself. A key takeaway here is that stress is much higher than usual for most people, and this impacts our lives in many ways, from our physical and mental health to our relationships with others. According to the Mayo Clinic, some common effects of stress include anxiety, headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, lack of motivation, feeling overwhelmed, feeling irritable or angry, and upset stomach. If any of those symptoms sound familiar, you’re not alone—especially these days.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Hormone Replacement Therapy During Menopause: Is It Right for You?

Due to changing hormone levels, it’s not uncommon for women to experience a variety of symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, chills, mood changes, and difficulty sleeping.

For some women these symptoms are mild, but for others, these symptoms really interfere with life. Hormone replacement therapy is a medication that can be used to replace the estrogen that your body stops producing in menopause. Hormone replacement therapy can be a helpful way to relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, and may also protect against osteoporosis. That said, there are some drawbacks to this treatment, and some cases where it may not be a good fit.

Hormone replacement therapy comes in different forms.
Estrogen therapy is one type of hormone replacement therapy. Given in a low dose, estrogen therapy is available as a pill, a patch that’s placed on the abdomen, and as a topical gel, cream, or spray. If someone is suffering from vaginal burning, dryness, or itchiness, their physician may prescribe a vaginal estrogen that’s available as a tablet, vaginal ring, or cream.

Another option for hormone replacement therapy is typically called combination therapy. Like its name suggests, this medication combines estrogen and progestin, which is a synthetic form of progesterone. Combination therapy is frequently used as a type of birth control, but can also treat menopause symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy isn’t for everyone.
Hormone replacement therapy isn’t advised if you have a history or family history of liver disease, blood clots, certain types of cancers, heart attack or stroke. It’s also not recommended if you have problems with vaginal bleeding or think you may be pregnant.

Here are the risks.
Hormone replacement therapy comes with some risks, though these often vary depending on a woman’s lifestyle and medical history. Additionally, the level of risk varies depending on the type of hormone replacement therapy that’s taken. It is believed that hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease in some women.

Another point to keep in mind is that the risks of hormone replacement therapy are higher among women over the age of 60 and among women who start hormone replacement therapy more than 10 years after the onset of menopause.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.