College meningitis menace
Q: My son is enrolled at a small college in Vermont, and I heard that there was an outbreak of meningitis on East Coast college campuses. He’s had a lot of his vaccinations, but what is available to protect him from this? — Sharon S., Syracuse, New York
A: All parents of teens should talk to their kids’ doc about getting the MenB vaccine. The preferred age for vaccination is 16 to 18, but anytime after that is fine.
If your son is up on his vaccinations, he’s probably protected against the most common strains of meningitis. If not, then he should arrange to get those vaccinations. You can discuss the best schedule for that with his doctor.
The good news is that cases of meningitis in the U.S. are at record lows. The bad news is that between 10 and 15 percent of the cases that do happen turn out to be fatal, and up to 20 percent cause the infected person lasting disabilities.
It’s worth knowing that the MenB vaccine does trigger mild side effects, such as soreness, tiredness, fatigue, headache, fever or chills, nausea and diarrhea, in about half of folks who get it. These reactions can hang around for a few days; they generally disappear completely within a week.
Q: I heard that smoke from wildfires is worse for you than cigarette smoke. We’re being blanketed with it, between the 600 fires in British Columbia and the hundreds throughout the U.S. West Coast, plus Nevada, Idaho and Montana. What’s the best way to limit exposure and still have a life? — Jason P., Seattle
A: Cigarette smoke is a lot worse for you. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t harmful chemicals and particulate matter in the wildfire smoke. There may be flakes of ash as well as bits of residue. Those particles pick up things and those microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs along with the pollutants.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.