• TrinaSeligman@C4Now.org

Dr.Pottinger; infectious disease. The immunocompromised patient.

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Dr.Pottinger; infectious disease. The immunocompromised patient.

For those who have IBD, or For those who care for someone with IBD.

We are in the height of cold and flu season, as well as an outbreak of measles and pertussis so there has been a lot of chatter on the newsgroups about staying healthy and vaccinations.
This is of particular concern for IBD patients, so many of which are on immune-suppressive medications.
I thought it was best to ask an expert about staying healthy while immune-suppressed and here’s what Dr.Pottinger has to say.

Dr.Pottinger is an associate Professor in the Infectious Disease Divison at the university of WA and associate Director of training in Infectious disease Program. (see link for Dr.Pottinger bio)

http://depts.washington.edu/daid/directory/pottinger.html

1. What suggestions do you have for patients that are immune compromised to stay healthy and reduce infection risk ?
Dr. Seligman, thanks for asking. This is an important issue, and one that is not discussed enough in doctors’ offices! The immune system is incredible, but when it is reduced—either on purpose to treat an autoimmune disease, or because of another disease—we need to work a little harder to avoid infections. Most things are quite simple: FIRST, take care of yourself. No smoking, no drinking alcohol to excess, get plenty of sleep and aerobic exercise, avoid folks who are visibly sick, keep your hands clean (with soap and water or alcohol-based gel), attend to any cuts or scrapes with soap & water right away, and get whatever vaccinations your physician recommends. Oh, and because we are in Washington State, I must add a warning about smoking THC: It is legal here, but potentially dangerous for immunocompromised patients, because the leaves often harbor mold that can be inhaled and cause a terrible lung or sinus infection…. Sorry guys! SECOND, ask others to take care of themselves, too… healthy friends and family will be less likely to spread infection to you. They should stay away if they are ill with respiratory or GI symptoms. And, they should get their vaccinations on time. Immunosuppressed patients may not respond to vaccines with a favorable antibody level, so they are dependent on others to form a “ring of protection” around them. The current outbreaks of measles and pertussis are examples of what can happen when people neglect their own health by skipping vaccinations. This puts all of us at risk… especially the immuosuppressed, who may not have a good enough vaccine response to ward off these potentially fatal infections.

2. When an immune compromised patient gets an infection how is this more complicated for you to manage ?
This can be a very, very big deal. First, our antibiotics are usually only effective when the patient has a healthy immune system to help fight the infection. Antibiotics for bacterial infections can be life-saving, but they still require the body’s own immune system to clear the infection. Drugs alone will not do the trick! So, when the immune system is reduced, we may need to treat people with bigger doses for longer periods of time… and this may cause more toxicity or side effects. Second, we do not have effective treatment for all infectious diseases! Yes, you heard me right: We lack specific therapy for many respiratory viral infections, from the common cold to certain strains of flu. Even “garden-variety” infections can be extremely dangerous in immunocompromised patients. To make things worse, some folks delay a trip to the doctor because they may not recognize what is happening until way too late… if these patients seek care early, we have a fighting chance! If not, it can be really tough to turn the tide.

3. Is there anything that the community can do to help patients that are immune compromised ?
First, they should take care of themselves so they are less likely to spread infections to the immunocompromised. Common sense, healthy lifestyles, and vaccines according to their physician’s recommendation. Second, we are in the midst of a crisis: bacteria are evolving to become more and more resistant to our antibiotics… so, if you love someone who is extra vulnerable to infections, please make your voice heard and VOTE for congressional candidates who will fund scientific medical research. We MUST make progress to help these patients, and currently our funding is inadequate! Unless the government hears from us, I fear delays will lead to more death and misery for the immunocompromised. Your voice matters… make it count!

"ForWe are in the height of cold and flu season, as well as an outbreak of measles and pertussis so there has been a lot of chatter on the newsgroups about staying healthy and vaccinations.
This is of particular concern for IBD patients, so many of which are on immune-suppressive medications.
I thought it was best to ask an expert about staying healthy while immune-suppressed and here’s what Dr.Pottinger has to say.Dr.Pottinger is an associate Professor in the Infectious Disease Divison at the university of WA and associate Director of training in Infectious disease Program. (see link for Dr.Pottinger bio)

http://depts.washington.edu/daid/directory/pottinger.html

1. What suggestions do you have for patients that are immune compromised to stay healthy and reduce infection risk ?
Dr. Seligman, thanks for asking. This is an important issue, and one that is not discussed enough in doctors’ offices! The immune system is incredible, but when it is reduced—either on purpose to treat an autoimmune disease, or because of another disease—we need to work a little harder to avoid infections. Most things are quite simple: FIRST, take care of yourself. No smoking, no drinking alcohol to excess, get plenty of sleep and aerobic exercise, avoid folks who are visibly sick, keep your hands clean (with soap and water or alcohol-based gel), attend to any cuts or scrapes with soap & water right away, and get whatever vaccinations your physician recommends. Oh, and because we are in Washington State, I must add a warning about smoking THC: It is legal here, but potentially dangerous for immunocompromised patients, because the leaves often harbor mold that can be inhaled and cause a terrible lung or sinus infection…. Sorry guys! SECOND, ask others to take care of themselves, too… healthy friends and family will be less likely to spread infection to you. They should stay away if they are ill with respiratory or GI symptoms. And, they should get their vaccinations on time. Immunosuppressed patients may not respond to vaccines with a favorable antibody level, so they are dependent on others to form a “ring of protection” around them. The current outbreaks of measles and pertussis are examples of what can happen when people neglect their own health by skipping vaccinations. This puts all of us at risk… especially the immuosuppressed, who may not have a good enough vaccine response to ward off these potentially fatal infections.

2. When an immune compromised patient gets an infection how is this more complicated for you to manage ?
This can be a very, very big deal. First, our antibiotics are usually only effective when the patient has a healthy immune system to help fight the infection. Antibiotics for bacterial infections can be life-saving, but they still require the body’s own immune system to clear the infection. Drugs alone will not do the trick! So, when the immune system is reduced, we may need to treat people with bigger doses for longer periods of time… and this may cause more toxicity or side effects. Second, we do not have effective treatment for all infectious diseases! Yes, you heard me right: We lack specific therapy for many respiratory viral infections, from the common cold to certain strains of flu. Even “garden-variety” infections can be extremely dangerous in immunocompromised patients. To make things worse, some folks delay a trip to the doctor because they may not recognize what is happening until way too late… if these patients seek care early, we have a fighting chance! If not, it can be really tough to turn the tide.

3. Is there anything that the community can do to help patients that are immune compromised ?
First, they should take care of themselves so they are less likely to spread infections to the immunocompromised. Common sense, healthy lifestyles, and vaccines according to their physician’s recommendation. Second, we are in the midst of a crisis: bacteria are evolving to become more and more resistant to our antibiotics… so, if you love someone who is extra vulnerable to infections, please make your voice heard and VOTE for congressional candidates who will fund scientific medical research. We MUST make progress to help these patients, and currently our funding is inadequate! Unless the government hears from us, I fear delays will lead to more death and misery for the immunocompromised. Your voice matters… make it count!” width=”472″ height=”315″ />

 


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