Last month, we asked you to submit your medical questions, and you delivered.
Now, Dr. Anna Lim-Kates, MD — who specializes in family medicine at Spring Valley Family Practice in NE Columbia — is here with answers.
Q: Is a mask not enough to protect against COVID? What are your thoughts on including eye protection in the new PPE requirements? -Sarah B.
A: You are correct. A mask alone is not enough, which is why we also need to physically distance by at least six feet, avoid crowds, test frequently, quarantine when appropriate, and all the other measures the CDC recommends. I wear eye protection in the healthcare setting; it does add a layer of protection. I personally do not wear eye protection outside of work, but am quite careful outside of my pod. I have also been vaccinated, which I enthusiastically recommend!
Q: Is drinking a lot of Diet Soda bad for you? -Brenda T.
A: As with most things in life — everything in moderation!
Q: What does it mean when the CDC says the COVID vaccine is 95% effective? Who are the 5% for whom it would not protect? -Ralph H.
A: This is an excellent question. A 95% efficacy rate means it reduces the risk of infection by 95%, which is not the same as saying 5% of vaccinated people are not protected. If you look at the Pfizer data of vaccinated subjects, for example, only 8 people out of 21,830 got infected with COVID, which calculates out to only 0.04%! We have to take these numbers with a grain of salt, however, because how the vaccine performs in the real world may be different.
Q: Should you take ibuprofen or acetaminophen at the time of or after receiving the Covid vaccine? -Glenda Q.
A: Yes, you may take either. I personally waited until the onset of symptoms to take my first dose.
Q: What’s the best way to find a general practitioner or family doctor when moving to a new area such as Columbia? -Phillip M.
A: Lexington Medical Center has a great website to help you locate a doctor! Word of mouth is also helpful — most of my new patient referrals are from their family and friends.
Q: What is the best remedy for varicose veins? -W.G.
A: We often use compression stockings for symptom management, though this will not cure them. For more definitive treatment, a vascular surgeon or vein specialist would be able to walk you through options.
Q: My elbow bones and joints have been hurting for about a month. I take Tylenol to help with the pain (sometimes serious, other times mild). Any suggestions? -Robert L.
A: Tylenol is a great first choice. Topical muscle rubs that you can get at any pharmacy can be helpful. If you are experiencing any redness or swelling, I would recommend you seek medical attention.
Q: What has research shown for people who have not received the vaccine, getting Covid 19 from a spouse (or other close contact) who just received the vaccine? -Lou C.
A: There are some vaccines that use a weakened live virus, and can conceivably cause the recipient to be contagious to others with a weakened immune system. The mRNA COVID vaccines are NOT this type of vaccine. You cannot catch or spread COVID from vaccination.
Q: How often should I see my primary care doctor about my Type I Diabetes? At what point should I start to see an endocrinologist? -Thorne
A: Most of my type 1 diabetic patients are managed by an endocrinologist. That being said, if you and your doctor have good glycemic control, you may not need to see one regularly.
Q: What can you tell me about long-haul Covid? I had a mild case but months later still struggle with fatigue and labored breathing. -Becky B.
A: I am definitely seeing a post-COVID syndrome in some of my patients who were infected with COVID. It’s interesting because I’m finding it’s not necessarily correlated with the severity of their illness. I have had some who experienced a milder course of illness, but persist with months of symptoms and others who were quite ill, but upon recovery bounce back to their normal without any hurdles. I recommend you speak with your primary care provider regarding your symptoms. COVID infection can cause you to become prone to blood clots, which could explain symptoms like yours.
Q: I am 42 years old and never had chickenpox… I don’t recall ever having the vaccine either. Is there a test I can take to see if I do have immunity? -Elizabeth M.
A: Yes. Varicella (chickenpox) titers can be drawn to see if you have antibodies. This is a blood test, and your primary care provider should be able to draw it for you. If you are not immune, then speak with your doctor about getting the chickenpox vaccine.