Everything You Need to Know to Stay Healthy This Flu Season
Autumn kicks off the start of the holiday season, but it also (unfortunately) brings the start of the flu season. Around 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Additionally, around 100,000 Americans are hospitalized, and 36,000 die each year of complications from the flu. That being said, here's everything you need to know to keep your family healthy this season.
The Influenza Virus
Commonly known to many as the flu, the influenza virus is an infectious disease with mild to severe symptoms. Three common types of influenza can infect humans: Type A, Type B, and Type C. Typically, flu season runs from October through March.
How You Can Contract the Flu
The influenza virus can be transmitted through the air in droplets when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. Coming in direct contact with someone who has the flu, or an object that has germs on it (such as a telephone or door handle), is another surefire way to risk contracting the flu.
Common Flu Symptoms
The most common symptoms of influenza include:
Typically, flu symptoms begin two days after an infected person contracts the virus, usually lasting about a week.
How Can I Prevent the Flu?
The best way to prevent the flu is by receiving a flu shot, annually, to protect yourself. When you receive a flu shot, your body builds antibodies to defend you against that particular strain. However, new strains of the flu are discovered every year, which is why patients are advised to continue getting a flu shot each year to protect against new strains.
In addition to the flu shot, here are some other ways to ward off the flu this season:
Wash your hands frequently with hot, soapy water.
Exercise to boost your immune system.
Avoid touching your face in public or with unwashed hands.
Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and grains.
Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?
The flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but it is still your best defense against the flu.
The only time you should not get the flu shot is if you have had a bad reaction to it before, are currently ill, or have an egg allergy. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor.
Can I Get the Flu from the Shot?
It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after being vaccinated, and it's possible to get the flu during this time. Others believe that the flu shot can make you sick, but this is another fallacy. The flu shot contains ‘inactivated’ strains of the virus, and cannot make you ill.
It's possible to get sick from an influenza strain not included in the vaccine. In either case, the flu vaccine will lower the severity of your symptoms. The CDC reports the flu vaccine historically has reduced the risk of influenza by 40-60%. That adds up to millions of people every season who are protected by the flu vaccine.
How to Treat the Flu
For most people, the flu will resolve on its own in 2 to 10 days. The best recipe for treating the flu is plenty of rest and fluids. If you have a fever, you should stay home from work, school, or other activities until 24 hours your last temperature over 99°F.
It’s been assumed that the best way to treat the flu is with an antibiotic, but this is false. As the flu is a virus and not a bacterial infection, an antibiotic cannot treat the flu. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe you with antiviral medicine, but typically a fever reducer and pain reliever (i.e., ibuprofen) are recommended.
Many patients believe treating the flu is just like treating a stomach virus. However, the influenza virus can have serious complications. People at a higher risk of developing complications include:
Children under 5, especially those under a year old
Adults over 65
Residents of long-term care facilities
People with compromised/weak immune systems or chronic illnesses
While not common, patients with the flu have also developed secondary conditions such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately:
Shortness of breath
High fever and a rash
Get Your Annual Flu Shot at Urgentology Care
Protect your family from the flu this season by visiting our staff at Urgentology Care today for a flu shot. Your shot will be covered under in-network insurance or $35 with self-pay. Call (817) 799-7273 or contact us online to schedule vaccination(s) for yourself or your child.
If you do believe you’ve contracted the flu, trying to self-diagnose is never easy. We encourage you to get checked if you have any symptoms of a cold, flu, or strep throat. Our team at Urgentology Care will ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for your illness. Stop in today for a walk-in appointment.