It’s Flu Season by Maggie Brown

By at November 16, 2012 | 12:36 am | Print

It’s Flu Season by  Maggie Brown

It’s that time of the year again. Flu season. We’ve all experienced some of the typical symptoms at some point in our lives- fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, etc. So what is the difference between the flu and the common cold? Well, Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can lead to various symptoms that come on very suddenly. The factor of body aches; headaches and extreme exhaustion are the main differences. Symptoms will vary person to person, and a fever is not always the cardinal sign, you can have the flu without holding a fever. Although most cases are mild to moderate, the virus can cause severe illness and can possibly lead to death.

The most common type is Seasonal flu. This is the annual flu outbreak that occurs during the late fall and winter. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of Americans come down with the flu each season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, “more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.”  Because of its rapid fire spreading, it can blaze through communities creating an epidemic. Schools and families with school-age children tend to be breeding grounds for the flu. Children are two to three times more likely to get the flu than adults and families with school-age children tend to have more infections than other families. Most flu symptoms will ease up in couple days to a week, but it is important to remember that those will weaker immune systems (infants, elderly and those with chronic illness) may have more complications and can become life threatening.

The flu is contagious and is spread mainly by droplets of the virus when people cough, sneeze and talk and then by touching their own mouth, eyes or nose. You can even infect others before the symptoms are present in your own body. A common way to prevent spreading of the flu- one, cover you mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Two, get vaccinated. Walgreens, CVS, university health centers and many urgent care centers seasonal flu shots. A “flu shot” is a small dosage of the inactivated virus. The seasonal flu shot, which is most common, is injected with a needle intramuscular (in the upper arm). Another option is the Nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is made with a live, weakened form of the flu virus but does not cause the flu. You do not have to be sick to get the flu shot. The purpose of a flu shot, or many vaccines for that matter is to create antibodies against the virus. With in two weeks your immune system will create antibodies that will help protect you from the three types of influence viruses.

The holidays are coming up, you have finals, and plans to see family- you can’t afford to be a victim of the flu, so go get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control suggest everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. People for whom vaccinations are important to get are those who live in nursing homes, health care workers, household contacts and caregivers. There are some restrictions and concerns for those with certain allergies or chronic illnesses. If you would like to learn more about Influenza or have any questions please visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.



National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases



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