St. Vincent’s Dr. Scott Sears Discusses Flu Vaccines and Migraines
Billings, MT - It is the time of year again to go get the flu shot. Many times we see scare-tactics being used so that more people are getting their flu shot, and it is highly recommended that everyone get their flu shot. The reality is that about 40% of adults and 60% of children get their flu shot each year. This all comes down to how we explain the importance of the flu shot, and the fact is that the flu shot works best in the strongest immune system so that it is not seeing it as a new threat later in the season. The young adults that are healthy and getting the flu shot are also helping protect children and elderly who have weaker immune systems. The more people that are protected, the less likely we are to have issues with the flu. Unfortunately, the older you get the worse reaction one may have to the flu shot because of the likelihood of a weakened immune system. Larger issues with the flu and those who are not vaccinated are that the flu can mutate within the season and become a different version of the virus altogether.
The flu shot can also prevent deaths globally. It is always a threat of someone passing away due to a weakened immune system than having the flu. We, the larger part of society, are traveling and visiting new places all the time now and the virus can also travel with us to these places. These viruses cross paths through air travel and some of the time we are passing it along unknowingly. Australia saw this virus two months earlier than they normally do, in April. In Billings, there have been cases seen as early as the end of September. People always question why they feel bad after the flu shot and the fact is that feeling bad after the flu shot is a good thing. If one is feeling bad after the flu shot, it means that the immune system is reacting to the shot and that is the immune system prepping itself for the flu. It can take up to two weeks for the immune system to fully respond.
Another issue we are seeing more of is migraines. If children are suffering from migraines, it is highly important to speak with a provider. Migraines can be highly disabling and can make the entire body react or feel sick. Lights, noises, and motions can make one feel extremely ill. Having no stimulation can help, but migraines can be genetic or hormonal. Young women are more likely to have these issues over young men due to the number of hormonal changes they go through. B-Vitamins and magnesium are natural preventatives but there are other preventatives that can help diminish the magnitude of the migraine. It is also true that people can grow out of the migraines as they pass through certain parts of life, but people can also grow into migraines. Medications for migraines are not meant to be utilized over someone’s lifetime, rather people can be slowly taken off of them as the migraines get better.
It is highly important to understand the different triggers. Keeping a headache diary can help patients discover their triggers and find the best form of treatment for themselves. Modifying lifestyles without starting medications is one form of treatment. We also see that sleep, or lack thereof, can also cause headaches, but when a patient is waking up with headaches these are more concerning cases because it relates to patients breathing while they are sleeping. Thus, getting to the cause of why you are having headaches is one of the most important things. Having a physician listen can help ensure that it is not something serious and whether or not specialists are necessary.
-Scott Sears, MD - Medical Director of Primary Care, SCL Health Medical Group Montana
SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.