5 Things You Need to Know About the Flu
Arm yourself with reliable resources and information to protect yourself and your family during the flu season.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a respiratory infection, with symptoms that are deceptively similar to those of a cold: fever, exhaustion, body aches, sore throats, dry cough and itchy eyes and nausea. If these symptoms come on suddenly and are accompanied by an acute fever and aches, then you probably have the flu. Contact your doctor immediately, as treatment is most effective within the first two days of your illness.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Flu shots are the best prevention for most of us, although, despite popular belief, they’re not 100 percent foolproof. But the flu shot is not for everyone. Those suffering from chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes, as well as certain allergies and other health conditions, may have serious complications from the vaccination. As with all medical decisions, you should consult with your own physician.
Healthy Habits are Essential
As usual, common sense and solid health habits are essential. “You want to wash your hands often, you want to pay attention to symptoms, and basically if you feel like you’re getting sick, we encourage you to stay home,” says says Ilana Tabak, media relations associate at the American Lung Association. The flu is quite easy to pass around. “All you need to do is cough and it’s in the air,” she says. Using hand sanitizers, avoiding crowds and a recent study found that even exercising are good ways to decrease the likelihood of getting sick.
High-risk groups should be especially proactive in getting medical treatment, as they can develop fatal complications like pneumonia, dehydration and aggravation of medical conditions like asthma, heart failure or diabetes. Most of us healthier folks, however, will “have to deal with a fever, sore throat, body aches,” says Tabak, but are likely to be back on our feet – and work – in about one week.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
– All children ages 6 to 23 months
– Adults ages 65 years and older
– Out-of-home caregivers and those residing with children under 6 months old
– Persons ages 2 to 64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes
– All women who will (or may) be pregnant during the influenza season
– Children ages 6 months to 18 years on chronic acetylsalicylic acid therapy
– Healthcare workers involved in direct patient care
– Residents of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
– Children less than 6 months of age
– People who have a severe egg allergy
– People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
– People who have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
– People who are currently sick with a fever. (These people can get vaccinated once their symptoms have been alleviated.)