Flu Season 2020-2021: When Covid Meets Flu

Are there any changes to flu vaccine recommendations because of Covid? Is it more dangerous to get the flu vaccine during the Covid pandemic? Flu vaccine prevents or decreases the severity of influenza, which is a viral infection that mainly affects the lungs. Influenza, or “flu,” is a dangerous illness. It causes severe fatigue (“feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck”), headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy nose, and body aches. The flu can cause pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of medical conditions like heart failure, emphysema, asthma, and diabetes.            The word “flu” is often wrongly used to describe other […]

Dry Eyes Have Many Causes

Dear Dr. Eva, I am having awful problems with dry eyes.  My eyes feel really dry all the time and sometimes they hurt. It’s been going on for months. I thought it might be allergies, but allergy pills didn’t help. I’ve tried different kinds of eyedrops, and they didn’t help much. I don’t have medical insurance. Can you suggest something? Dry Eye   Dear Dry, There are two major causes for dry eyes. The eyes make several different kinds of fluid that work together to keep the surface of the eyes moist.  When there is not enough of any of […]

New HIV Treatment

Dear Dr. Eva, I read that there’s a new HIV medicine out. How different is it from other HIV medicines? Should I ask my doctor if I can switch? Treatment Experienced Dear TE, A new HIV medicine called fostemsavir (brand name Rukobia) was approved early last month (July 2020).  Fostemsavir is an entry inhibitor, which means it prevents the HIV virus from getting inside the specialized white blood cells (T cells) that HIV infects. Over time, T cells that have already been infected die off and are replaced.  When an entry inhibitor is taken, the HIV virus cannot get inside […]

Home HIV Tests: Just as Good?

Dear Dr. Eva, What do you think about home HIV tests? Are they as accurate as the ones done in labs? Are they as accurate as the free ones you can get at bars and festivals? Nervous   Dear Nervous, About 1.3 million people in the United States are infected with HIV. About one in seven (15%) don’t know they are infected. People who know they have HIV often take steps to protect others, while those who don’t know their status often do not. Forty percent of new HIV cases are transmitted by the 15% of HIV positive people who […]

More on Summer Sun and the Keto Diet

Dear Dr. Eva, My objection to the keto diets my friends describes is that they are very meat-heavy. I’m a quasi-vegetarian, which means I try to eat as little animal protein as possible. So, no keto for me! Quasi-V Dear Quasi-V, You are right. I can’t think of any way to put together a vegetarian ketogenic diet, since most vegetable proteins like nuts and beans include carbohydrates (starch). There also are important health, economic, and environmental reasons to decrease meat intake. Dr. Eva Dear Dr. Eva, When I tried a Keto diet, I got the worst heartburn I’ve ever had. […]

Is Summer Sun Sun Really Fun?

Dear Dr. Eva, I like to get a tan and keep it through the summer. I’ve been doing this for years. I tan gradually and don’t let myself get burned. Do I need to worry about skin cancer? Glowworm   Dear Glowworm, Unfortunately, there is no safe tan. Although a gradually developed tan can protect some people from sunburn, tanning is caused by the same ultraviolet light frequencies which cause skin cancer, ultraviolet (UV) A and B. People who tend to tan rather than burn do have a lower baseline risk of skin cancer, but they increase their risk with […]

COVID mailbag: Super spreaders and asymptomatic shedders

Dear Dr. Eva, What is a super spreader and how many are there? Is there a way to recognize them? Super scared Dr. Eva, Thank you for the clarification regarding social distancing. Do we have actually have a list of what are the effects of the virus in our bodies? Do we know what are the worst symptoms? Kind Regards, Concerned Reader from the UK Dear Dr. Eva, What is an asymptomatic shedder? I know it’s not like my dog. It has something to do with the Covid virus. Wondering Dear Readers, Thank you for some excellent questions. COVID-19 is […]

Responding Reasonably to Coronavirus #4: Is it too soon to stop social distancing?

Based on everything we know about epidemiology and about this virus, it is not safe to ease up on social distancing now. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Guidance For Governors (updated April 17, 2020) recommends that governors should not back off social distancing rules or begin to allow people to resume normal activities until after the death rate from coronavirus in their state has declined for fourteen straight days, meaning that each day for 2 weeks, fewer people die than died the day before. There are no other published guidelines. However, the governors of many states are choosing […]

Responding Reasonably to Coronavirus #3: Denial Is Not a River In Egypt

I’m sure you’ve already heard about as much as you want to about how Americans are not interested in helping each other, and our youth are a bunch of snowflakes who care only for their own interests and special uniqueness. Those are frequently offered explanations as to why it’s been difficult to get some Americans to follow instructions for maintaining social distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus. I’d like to offer some alternative explanations which aren’t more versions of finger pointing and blaming. The reasons for social distancing and the right ways to use protective devices such as gloves […]

Responding Reasonably #2: Sex and Coronavirus

Q. The way people are talking, it sounds like we’re all likely to die…are we? A. No. The chance of dying from Covid-19 is only one in a hundred, 1%. That is a low rate, but keep in mind that it is 10 times higher than the death rate from the flu, which is one in a thousand, or 0.1%. That is the average: the rate of serious illness and death from Covid-19 increases with older age and underlying medical conditions (more on this below.) The chance of becoming infected with Covid-19 is much higher, over 50% by the time […]