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Flu FAQ: The myths and facts of flu season

Senior patient arm insulin medicine syringe injection vaccinatioAccording to the Center for Disease Control, “Flu season” in the United States begins in October and may continue as late as May. Influenza, or the flu virus, includes the following symptoms:

  • Cough and/or sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Headaches or body aches
  • Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Anyone six months and older can receive a flu shot and it is recommended that most people be vaccinated each season. A vaccination can be administered nasally or injected through the skin. Injections can be trivalent, effecting three different types of viruses, or quadrivalent, meaning they’ll fight against four types of flu viruses.

Alongside flu hype can be misleading myths and misconceptions, which may include the following:

Myth #1: Cold weather causes the flu.

Going outside in the cold cannot increase your risk of flu. Though the flu season may coordinate with the colder months, there is no real coordination. The only real connection to the spread of the flu virus and the weather, is the increase of contact in close quarters during the colder months.

Myth #2: The seasonal flu is annoying but not harmful.

Though some consider the flu “just a bad cold,” the symptoms of the flu often rival any seasonal cold symptoms. For example, a cold may include a runny nose, sinus congestion and a sore throat, where the flu often makes those who contract it feel as though they’ve been “hit by a truck.” with a fever, body aches, nausea and possible vomiting.

Myth 3#: You can get swine flu from pork-based products.

After the recent swine-flu scare some people swore of pork, bacon etc. However, experts have stated there is no way to contract the flu virus from pork-based products.

Myth #4: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.

This being the most common myth, experts have openly stated that there is no possible way that you can contract the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine only contains a dead virus and cannot actually infect the patient, and in the FluMist nasal spray, the live virus is specially engineered to kill the parts of the existing virus that make people sick.

Most experts claim that the side effects of the vaccine are often similar to the flu, making it easy to confuse the symptoms for the flu itself. In addition, some people may get sick with an unrelated cold or virus right after being injected with the flu vaccine.

Myth #5: There’s no treatment for the flu.

When taken within at least 48 hours of symptoms, Tamiflu and Relenza can be taken by pill form or inhaled to reduce the length of sickness or level of overall contagion.

Myth #6: Antibiotics can cure the flu.

Though in some cases of the flu there can be bacterial complications or issues with side effects, the flu virus cannot be cured with antibiotics. Antibiotics cannot even help with prevention, and unnecessary consumption may actually lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

Myth #7: The flu can only seriously affect the elderly.

Though the flu is well known for causing severe medical issues with the elderly, it can also affect very young children, with 90% of the H1N1 swine flu affection people under the age of 65. However, 90% of seasonal flu deaths can be attributed to the elderly.

Myth #8: If you get the flu once, you may get it again in the same season.

Because you can be affected by more than one strain of the flu virus, it’s very possible to get sick with different forms of the flu multiple times during the same season. Doctors encourage patients to get vaccinated, regardless of if they’ve been sick already or not.

Experts also advise against skipping years between vaccines, saying that each season the strain changes, making a different type of virus the most dominant one in need of targeting.

Myth #9: There’s no point in getting vaccinated past November.

Because of an increase in supplies preparedness, the flu vaccine is usually available until December or January, making it easy to fight illness throughout the entire flu season.

Overall, thorough hand washing and an annual fly vaccine can help you stay healthy throughout the year.  If you haven’t gotten your flu shot this year, make a point to go in the next week.  If you have any questions about if you are a good candidate for the flu show, feel free to contact the Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello offices.

More information about the vaccine.  

The CDC has created a full list of available vaccines for the 2014-2015 year as well as provided a vaccine locator to help get stay healthy this season. To view current information about flu levels and activity in the United States, you can view the CDC’s weekly FluView report.


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