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As a physician, I am so impressed with Dr. Mehmet Oz. He is truly a great surgeon, and I have patients that have used him. He is also an incredible communicator on health issues. The latest issue, his own health, got the attention of the whole country. The colonoscopy seen all over the country showed he had a pre-cancerous polyp, which caught so early most likely saved his life. The take-home message from Dr. Oz was: be proactive when it comes to your health. Your insurance company isn’t going to send you reminders when you should get certain check-ups.

In my area of expertise, as an allergist, asthma specialist and immunologist, I have a few recommendations for my patients to be proactive with their health. First, make time to get your flu shot. It really saves lives. You hear the rare, but occasional horror stories of someone who died from the H1N1 virus last year. This year’s flu shot covers this virus, plus two other strains. The best time to get the shot is now through the end of October before the flu season arrives- typically December through March. The shot does take a few weeks to gain maximum immunity. We have in the office the preservative-free vaccine, but all the other vaccines are highly safe as well.

I also want to stress again to parents with children who have asthma: please have your child checked for allergies. It’s estimated 50 to 70% of children with asthma have underlying allergies. The allergies cause inflammation in the lung tissue and can require inhaled cortisone to control it. By identifying the allergens and possibly avoiding them, or if that is not possible, then we use sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) to protect the child and boost their immunity to the specific allergen. A child’s lungs grow until about 12 if chronic inflammation goes unchecked their lungs may never reach full capacity.

Also, children with eczema- the red, scaly rashes that go with dry skin and itch like crazy. These children should also be checked for allergies- especially food allergies. In up to 40% of cases, these children may be allergic to a food that is worsening their rash. I also am finding that proper doses of Vitamin D are key to improving their skin and immunity.

So remember, as we head back to work, and the kids back to school- find time to be proactive about your health.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island