It’s Flu season, time for the Flu shot! Influenza is also called the flu. It’s an infection that causes a fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, and sometimes earaches or sinus problems. The flu is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses.
What’s the Flu Vaccine?
Health experts recommend that all people age 6 months and older get the flu vaccine each year.
For kids, the flu vaccine is available as a shot (injected through the skin). Doctors no longer recommend the flu vaccine as a spray mist into the nostrils, because it didn’t work well enough in kids.
If you get the vaccine, it will protect you from getting a bad case of the Influenza. You either won’t get it at all, or if you do get it, you will have only mild symptoms and you should get better pretty quickly.
Here’s what the vaccine means for most kids:
- Kids older than 9 need only one dose.
- Kids younger than 9 will need two doses if this is the first time getting the vaccine, or if only had one dose in the past.
- If you need two doses, you’ll get one dose and then come back at least a month later to get the second one.
- Kids that have gotten the vaccine at least twice in the past, will only need to get one dose.
Certain people are at higher risk of problems from the Influenza, including:
- Pregnant women
- Kids younger than age 5
- People age 65 and older
- People of any age who have long-term health conditions
So if you have asthma, diabetes, or another health problem, it’s especially important that you get the vaccine.
The vaccines are usually given in the fall, before Flu season starts. Flu season — the months of the year when a lot of people have the Influenza and it’s easy to catch it — usually starts in October and ends in May.
Why Get a Vaccine Every Year?
You might wonder why you have to get a flu vaccine every year. Here’s why: There are lots of different Influenza viruses. Each year, researchers choose the three or four viruses most likely to cause trouble. The vaccine includes protection against those three or four, which can vary from year to year.
Cold or Flu?
It’s important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms. A cold is a milder respiratory illness than the flu. While cold symptoms can make you feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make you feel quite ill for a few days to weeks. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations. How do you know whether you have cold symptoms or the flu?
How Does the Flu Spread?
This virus gets around in little drops that spray out of an infected person’s mouth and nose when he or she sneezes, coughs, or even laughs. You can catch the Influenza from someone who has it if you breathe in some of those tiny flu-infected drops.
You also can catch the it if those drops get on your hands and you touch your mouth or nose. No wonder people are always saying to cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. And while you’re at it, wash your hands well and often!
What If You Get the Flu?
If your doctor thinks you might have the flu, sometimes he or she will use a long cotton swab to get a sample of the gunk in your nose. Testing this sample in a lab can determine if you have the flu.
But usually this isn’t necessary. Based on your symptoms and how you look during the visit, your doctor can usually tell if you have the it, especially during times when a lot of flu is going around your town.
If your doctor says you caught it, start taking these steps to feel better:
- Rest in bed or on the couch.
- Drink lots of liquids, like water, chicken broth, and other fluids.
- Take the medicine to ease your fever, aches, and pains.
- If you have trouble breathing, if you are feeling worse instead of better, or if you aren’t peeing as much as usual. These are signs that you may need to see the doctor again.
Most of the time, people with the flu feel better in about a week. Until they do, they have to stay home and take it easy.
We hope you’re flu-free this year, but if you do get it, now you know what to do!
If you think you have the Flu or want to get the Flu Shot book your appoinment online at Turó Park Medical Center.