Five Winter Medical Myths – Dr Stefan Bezuidenhout

Dr Stefan Bezuidenhout from Virtus Health & Medical Centre is here to debunk a few worldwide medical myths this winter.


1. “The Flu vaccine gives you, the flu”

This is one of the most common myths. The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses and cannot give you flu. What you might experience is the immune response to the vaccination which would only include slight fevers and a localised red tender shoulder for 2-3 days.


As it takes about 2 weeks for antibodies to develop, you can be infected with full blown flu in this period, purely by coincidence. The vaccine also only contains a few of the severe strains and you can therefore still be infected with some of the other viral strains.


2. “Anti-biotics works for all infections”

Antibiotics are designed to kill bacterial infections, as the flu is a viral infection it will not make you feel better sooner or kill the virus. In most cases, your immune system will clear the virus from your body within 2-3 days. If you started an antibiotic and feel better in 2-3 days it is due to your immune systems great work, not the antibiotic.


3. “Being outside in the cold, will make you sick”

A virus spreads by micro droplets of bodily fluid and you, therefore, have more chance to get infected, huddled together inside than out in the cold. During the winter though the cold air can be drier and this can cause airway irritation that leaves you more susceptible to viral infections.


4. “ Allergies are only for spring time”

During winter months, doors and windows are closed. Circulating air cons and poor air quality can lead to allergies flaring. It can also aggravate mould growth which can make some allergies worse.


5. “ Sunscreen is not necessary during Winter months”

Due to the earth’s axis and rotation, we are actually closer to the sun during winter months. You still need to apply sunscreen to prevent damage to your skin and reduce long term cancer risk.


Contact Details:

Virtus Health & Medical

Tel: +27 21 439 1555
Address: 3rd Floor, The Point, Sea Point

Seasonal Allergies – Dr Jane Benjamin

With spring approaching it is the perfect time of year to take long walks on the mountain, do a bit of gardening, take kiddies to the park and get in touch with nature.


But spring bliss can also lead to allergy symptoms for 20 % of all South Africans. These symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, watering and itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing and itchy skin. These symptoms may mean you have allergic rhinitis (running nose), allergic conjunctivitis, asthma or eczema.

If you have these symptoms there are numerous things you can do to minimize your symptoms.


General measure you can take include the following:

– Wear a protective mask while gardening

– Keep and doors & windows closed, air conditioner filters can trap pollen. Change these often
– Consider holidays near the sea not inland or in areas of high pollen count
– Protect your eyes with sunglasses to reduce the amount of pollen they are exposed to
– Wash hair, body, and clothes at the end of the day as all of these can trap pollen
– Check your pets as they can often bring pollen indoors and transfer it onto couches and bedding


If symptoms still persist after these general measures get proper treatment:

– Oral antihistamine tablets are the mainstay of treatment. You can get non-drowsy, once daily, long acting antihistamines

– There are numerous steroid based nasal sprays that can improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Some of these you can get over the counter
– Allergy eye drops are also available if your eye symptoms are very bad
– Decongestants can make you feel better but can elevate your blood pressure – so check with your doctor what the best options are for you
– If allergies cause your asthma symptoms to flare you may need to step-up your treatment regime to manage symptoms


If you are still symptomatic after all of this you may need to have a steroid injection but best to discuss this with your doctor. This is normally only if symptoms are very severe as high dose steroids have numerous unwanted side effects.


Hopefully, these useful tips will help prevent some of your allergy symptoms this spring!


Contact Details:

Virtus Health & Medical

Tel: +27 21 439 1555
Address: 3rd Floor, The Point, Sea Point