New York City’s Department of Health has reported an increase in RSV cases each week since mid-September, with a record number of city children hospitalized with the virus in November.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them. The flu is caused only by influenza, whereas several different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses, can cause the common cold. Seasonal coronaviruses should not be confused with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Because the flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. The flu is generally worse than the common cold; symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. The flu symptoms can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness).
Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than those with the flu. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests can tell if a person is sick with the flu.
Compared to people with the flu, people infected with COVID-19 may take longer to show symptoms and may be contagious for longer periods.
You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by the symptoms alone because they have some of the same signs and symptoms. Specific testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. Having a medical professional administer a specific test that detects both flu and COVID-19 allows you to get diagnosed and treated more quickly for the specific virus you have. Getting treated early for COVID-19 and the flu can reduce your risk of getting very sick. Testing can also reveal if someone has both flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, although this is uncommon. People with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time can have a more severe disease than people with either the flu or COVID-19 alone. Additionally, some people with COVID-19 may also be affected by post-COVID conditions (also known as long COVID).
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine every season. The flu shot does not cause the flu illness. In addition to the flu vaccine for adults, teens, and children, there are flu vaccines approved for different groups:
- Pregnant women
- Older adults (65 years and older)
- Small children
- People with chronic conditions
The flu vaccine is especially important for people with chronic health conditions and those with a high risk of developing complications from the flu. Since infants younger than six months cannot be vaccinated against the flu, it’s crucial that the people around them get the flu shot for the baby’s health.
To find a flu vaccine near you, visit (Vaccines.gov/find-vaccines). Texans can also call 2-1-1 or visit (211Texas.org) to find information on vaccine availability from local public health departments and other nearby nonprofit organizations.
Texas Has High Obesity Rates
It’s always bigger in Texas – so are the people!
According to a recent report by Trust for America’s Health, 35.5% of the adult population in Texas is considered obese. Louisiana, West Virginia and Oklahoma were among the states that had the highest obesity rate – 40% or more.. Texas was among 21 states whose obese percentage was 35% or more.
Over the past two decades, obesity rates have climbed for all population groups, with certain populations of color experiencing the highest rates, often due to structural barriers to healthy eating and a lack of opportunities and places to be physically active. Nationally, 41.9 percent of adults have obesity. Black and Latino adults have the highest obesity rates at 49.9 percent and 45.6 percent, respectively. People living in rural communities have higher rates of obesity than people living in urban and suburban areas.
This 2023 version is the 20th annual report on the antecedents and rates of obesity in the U.S. and policy solutions. Obesity rates are also increasing among children and adolescents, with nearly 20 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 having obesity, according to 2017–2020 NHANES data. These rates have more than tripled since the mid-1970s, and Black and Latino youth have substantially higher rates of obesity than do their white peers.
According to TFAH’s analysis of the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, in 2022, 22 states had an adult obesity rate at or above 35 percent, up from 19 states the prior year. A decade ago, no state had an adult obesity rate at or above the 35 percent level.
Hidden Sugars Served Up to Kids
To reduce childhood obesity, the USDA recently held a comment request this past February for feedback on its proposal to revise long-term school nutrition standards, which includes less added sugars in school lunch and breakfast programs.
They proposed two alternatives: Beginning in the school year 2025-26, allow flavored milk (fat-free and low-fat) at school lunch and breakfast for high school children (grades 9-12) only. Elementary and middle school children (K-8) would be limited to fat-free and/or low-fat unflavored milk. The other alternative is to maintain the current standard, which allows all schools to offer fat-free and low-fat milk, flavored and unflavored, at school lunch and breakfast.
With over 14 million kids considered obese in the U.S., every little bit helps. For example, most elementary and middle schools offer fat-free chocolate milk. The 8-ounce carton contains about 18 grams of sugar. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 2-18 should have a maximum of 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar daily.
A recent analysis of USDA’s School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study data found that flavored milk is the leading source of added sugars in the school lunch and breakfast programs, contributing almost half of the added sugars in lunches and about 30% of the added sugars in breakfasts.
The proposal states, “This approach would reduce exposure to added sugars and promote the more nutrient-dense choice of unflavored milk for young children when their tastes are being formed.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are so many foods often marketed as “healthy” for kids and families that are unfortunately not great for maintaining a healthy weight or overall health.
Top Foods with Hidden Sugars:
- Sports drinks and energy drinks
- 100% juice drinks
- Breads and cereals
- Yogurts and flavored milks
- Most breakfast foods (cereals, pancakes, waffles, croissants)
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. According to the latest research from scientists at the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 288,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, with close to 35,000 deaths. Black men are two times more likely to die from the disease than white men and have the highest death rate for prostate cancer of any racial and ethnic group. However, when prostate cancer is detected early, the odds of survival are high. More than 3.5 million men diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. are still alive today.
What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?
For some men, prostate cancer may lead to urinary problems, such as having difficulty starting urination or urinating frequently, or pain during ejaculation. These symptoms and signs also occur with non-cancer conditions, so it’s important to follow up with a physician to find out what’s causing these symptoms. If a cancer has already grown beyond the prostate, there may be pain in the hips, back, or other areas. For most people, however, no symptoms indicate prostate cancer and the cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy following an abnormal blood test.
What is the treatment for prostate cancer? This is an exciting time in prostate cancer, with substantial progress in new therapies over the past ten years. When the cancer is still confined to the prostate (localized), surgery (radical prostatectomy) and certain forms of radiation are useful to treat and cure prostate cancer. For men who have a low risk of their prostate cancer metastasizing, active surveillance – in which a patient is closely monitored for signs of cancer progression – can also be an important treatment to consider. When the cancer is more aggressive, other therapies include targeted hormonal pathways, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiopharmaceuticals.
Is there a screening test for prostate cancer?
The primary screening test for prostate cancer involves taking a blood sample and testing it for the level of a marker called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Higher levels of PSA in the blood can indicate prostate cancer, but also may be higher in benign conditions such as an enlarged prostate. While regular PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer mortality, there is some controversy since the test can pick up slower-growing cancers that will never lead to harm. An area of active research now aims to make more effective screening approaches, targeting the men at the highest risk of prostate cancer and then safely letting people know they can screen less regularly.
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