The flu affects approximately 60 million Americans every year, and not only that – there are different kinds of flu viruses as well. It’s always a challenge to inform, educate, and vaccinate patients every flu season, although each season may be different from the others. You may have a lot of questions to ask about this perennial illness, so we have gathered the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) every flu season to help you prepare ahead as well as convey effective information to others.
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Here are some flu season FAQs.
What is the flu?
The Flu is a highly contagious respiratory virus that comes on suddenly. If a person is exposed to this virus, these symptoms can manifest in one to seven days after exposure: fever (usually 100.4°F or higher, lasting for several days, often with chills), body aches, and a cough. Symptoms can also include the following:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Eye pain, such as burning, pain on eye movement or sensitivity to light
The good news is that gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea or nausea and vomiting, are fairly uncommon. Because the flu is a viral disease, taking antibiotics won’t be of any help; those are effective against bacteria, but won’t help you with the flu.
How do you get the flu?
The method of transmission is from person to person, which are typically from airborne particles that are released through the coughing or sneezing of an infected person, as well as through touching contaminated objects or surfaces, like door knobs or countertops. In order to help prevent the spread of the flu virus, it is vital to practice the proper way to cough and sneeze, as well as good hand hygiene. Following these tips will help keep you and your family safe and healthy this flu season.
Should I get a flu shot?
Definitely! If you are eligible to get vaccinated, have yourself vaccinated against the flu.
It’s the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting infected.
In fact, the flu shot not only reduces your risk of getting the flu and lessens symptoms if you do get sick, but it also helps prevent the flu from spreading and infecting other people. If you are in close contact with young children, anyone elderly or those with a serious illness, getting vaccinated can reduce their chances of coming down with the flu and developing complications like pneumonia.
Do I need a flu shot every year?
It is recommended to get a flu shot every year. This is because flu viruses undergo mutation, and each new flu vaccine is enhanced to match the strain(s) of flu that are expected to cause a lot of flu cases in the next flu season. Keep your family safe by getting vaccinated annually.
Are flu vaccines safe?
Yes, absolutely. Flu vaccines have been studied carefully and are very safe. Even though some people get sick despite getting a flu shot, the flu shot itself can’t give you the flu. There are reported symptoms, such as body aches and low-grade fevers, that manifest after getting a flu shot, but this is only because your body is adjusting and is developing an immune response to the vaccine. They will usually disappear within a day or two. If you are worried, you can always talk to your provider about the reactions you got from a flu vaccine before getting the next shot.
DID YOU KNOW?
Getting a vaccination will remove you as a source of infection to patients in your care, their family members or carers in attendance, and fellow colleagues who may be in a clinical ‘at risk’ category.
People are infectious for 2-3 days before showing symptoms.
You can infect another person within a distance of six (6) feet.
You can infect another person simply by breathing (via the water vapor from your breath).
Ibuprofen, coffee and energy drinks may make you feel well enough to attend work, but you could still be infectious
Viruses can ‘survive’ on your hands (for example from rubbing your mouth and nose) and be spread by direct contact or indirect contact via door handles and surfaces.
Viruses can be spread by sneezing and coughing. The virus is spread in mucus/saliva spray droplets in the air, by direct contact or onto any surface which then becomes a source of infection for patients and colleagues.
Patients with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, morbid obesity, asplenic or splenic dysfunction, respiratory, heart, kidney, liver or neurological conditions, are most prone to getting the flu. Those who are immunosuppressed due to treatment or conditions, or are pregnant, are all ‘at risk’ from an influenza infection becoming more serious, causing viral pneumonia, myocarditis, meningitis, encephalitis or otitis media.
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