Winter 2007

P E R S P E C T I V E S
Winter brings thoughts on Vitamin D, the flu


Don Lane  Photo

 

Dr. Susan King

Well it’s soon gonna be that snuggie time of the year again – the annual winter hibernation. All pooped out and broke, we spend more time back at the lair. When I come home, daily tasks all done and freezing cold, there’s nothin’ better than jammies, hot tea and my favorite un-winder.

By Dr. Susan King

Well it’s soon gonna be that snuggie time of the year again – the annual winter hibernation. All pooped out and broke, we spend more time back at the lair. When I come home, daily tasks all done and freezing cold, there’s nothin’ better than jammies, hot tea and my favorite un-winder. The days are short, but take heart; it won’t be long before they start to lengthen out again.

Speaking of less hours of sunshine, last time I spoke of Vitamin D and of getting levels done. A reader contacted me after and indicated that the 25 OH Vitamin D level measures Vitamin D3. Although most of Vitamin D that is available is D3, it is best to be sure of this before boosting up the dose.

The thoughts of shorter days and colder temperatures, of course, leads into the usual “flu season” rant. My first rant is how the term “the flu”, an abbreviation of influenza, has come to commonly refer to many viral illnesses. I even find myself doing it (I bet you too say “stomach flu”!). How these simple viruses can rule our lives.

Like everyone, I try to get a bit more exercise. I would always find that if I felt a bit of a cold coming on, I thought I shouldn’t tax my system too much by getting a good workout. So, I’d slack off on the exercise. It wasn’t always an excuse either. I decided to do a literature search, easily done by us all through the CMA website under “Ask a CMA librarian”. Turns out that continuing moderate exercise during mild respiratory infections seems to be beneficial or at least neutral. There were three occasions last winter when I found myself inhabited by respiratory germs. I continued my exercise regime (tempting as it was to rest up) and the colds certainly were of shorter duration and less intense. Knock on wood. I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

Speaking of respiratory stuff, I was at a talk by a pediatrician a couple of weeks ago. He reminded us that this is the time of the year when children with asthma exacerbated by viral infections begin the annual cold that seems to start in September and end in May. He was recommending that for some children, using Singular regularly during this time could significantly reduce exacerbations. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily replace inhaler therapy but can add to it and be helpful if there are issues regarding inhaler use.

The other presentation I went to recently was on “Emotional Intelligence”. One tip I found to be particularly helpful: When a person is angry and verbally hostile, immediately assume that it has nothing to do with you, even if you think it does. Assume that there is something going on that you aren’t aware of and that the person is either hurt or behaving out of fear. I find that when I remember this I get less defensive; the issue is usually resolved more easily. Be sure to pass that one on to your staff – they take the brunt of any wrath that’s floating around and are in a difficult and vulnerable position.

Sometimes looking after my own physical and mental health is more of a challenge than the work I do every day. You may find this, too. So, remember to look after yourself at least as good as you look after others and take time to live in and enjoy the moment. A nice walk in the woods on a sunny winter day is good for body and soul . . . Just do it!

Dr. Susan King is a family physician at the Newfoundland Drive Medical Clinic in St. John’s. Tips and hints may be emailed or faxed to (709) 726-7525.

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