What are options when colonoscopy prep is too much to bear?
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DR. ROACH WRITES: A recent column about the flu vaccine generated some letters. Some readers wondered whether the questioner may have had a bad reaction to the 1976 swine flu vaccine. I recall that incident, and in medical school we learned that it wasn't clear why that vaccine caused more side effects than other flu vaccines. However, it was a live, attenuated (weakened) flu strain, not the killed flu vaccine that has been the standard now for decades. I certainly have encountered many people who had a bad reaction 40 years ago and who still refuse to get a vaccine now.
Another reader noted that a family member complained of getting "the flu" after a flu shot, but really meant an episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Influenza does not usually have many gastrointestinal symptoms: The term "stomach flu" is a misnomer. There are plenty of viruses that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but not influenza, which causes sudden onset (my colleague Dr. Fred Pelzman talks about people getting hit with the "flu truck") of fever, a high degree of fatigue and feeling unwell, headache and sometimes profound muscle aches. Cough, sore throat and nasal discharge show the respiratory nature of this illness.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.
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