By Alan Koenigsberg, M.D.
As another year comes to a close, I thought it a good time to take on the role of my Bubbie and remind everyone to take good care of themselves, along with giving a few medical updates.
As per CDC guidelines, if you haven’t already gotten all of your vaccines, this is the time to do so. The latest COVID-19 vaccine isn’t a booster, but rather a new strain to hopefully prevent against the latest COVID-19 variant. You can go directly to the CDC website about this, here: https://tinyurl.com/wr5fe8rm
I know many people have vaccine fatigue and while that’s understandable, people are still getting sick from COVID-19, and getting sick is even more fatiguing than getting vaccinated.
Then there is the influenza vaccine, which came out in late August. Given that flu season is fully upon us and we’re gathering for the holidays now more than ever, please keep in mind that you can get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, one in each arm.
Lastly, for those of a certain age, there is the RSV vaccine, which is targeted at the older population as well as the youngest amongst us. All of these vaccines are available at most pharmacies. Some require appointments; others can do walk- up.
As I have said before to family, friends and patients, I would only recommend medical treatments or preventions that I would recommend to my family, and have done so. I, along with all my family, have gotten all the vaccines months ago.
Continuing the discussion about COVID-19, there is an excellent article in the NewYorkTimes about long COVID-19 and potential treatments: https://tinyurl.com/y6cknzbj Recent research has indicated
that COVID-19 viral particles in the intestine may stimulate the im- mune system to produce inflam- mation, preventing absorption of tryptophan, which may in turn inhibit production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays many roles including brain function. Whether vaccinations or increasing serotonin levels through medication treatment will be effective in treating brain fog due to long COVID-19 is currently being researched.
I do remember reading some articles a few years ago that getting booster vaccinations may have been helpful in treating some aspects of long COVID-19. If in doubt, please discuss this with your primary care physician.
On another topic, there are now more new injectable medications approved to help treat obesity. The newest one, just FDA approved, is called Zepbound, the same medication manufactured by Eli Lilly, known as Mounjaro, which is approved to treat diabetes.
Much concern has been voiced about using medications intended to treat people with diabetes and using them instead for people without diabetes, but who are overweight.
Given that about one-third of the adult U.S. population is overweight and approximately another one-third is obese, these new medications may be both a serious concern as well as potential help for many people.
Also, given that thesemedications are relatively new for use in helping people lose weight, there is still quite a lot of information to be learned as well as research to be done.
At the risk of being repetitive, please discuss all of this with your internist or family physician, to decide it any of these medications are appropriate for you.
I recommend medical decisions be made in collaboration with your personal physician, based on reliable research and thinking. Be careful about making decisions based on feelings and emotions.
Alan Koenigsberg, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at UTSW Medical School in Dallas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.