Once again we are entering the flu season. The Flu Shot should be or become available in most doctor offices very shortly. The flu season lasts from the end of October through April. As you may know, Influenza is a viral infection in the nose, throat, and lungs.
10- 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Some get very sick and a few die. The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as the worse cold they had ever had. Most people get better within 1- 2 weeks. For some people, the flu leads to serious, and maybe life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia. The flu shot is recommended for people who are more likely to get really sick for protection from the flu.
People who have a higher risk of complications from the flu and should get the flu vaccine every year:
- All children 6 months to 3 years old
- All adults 65 years and older
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
- Nursing home and long term care facility residents
- Health care workers that have direct care with patients
- Caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age
- Individuals with long term health problems
- Children 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy
The best way to avoid the flu is to get the influenza vaccine each fall, before the flu season. The vaccine is available by shot or nasal spray. IT works by exposing the immune system to the flu virus. The body will build up antibodies to the virus to protect you from the virus. The flu shot contains dead viruses. The nasal spray contains live but weakened viruses. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine. People who have had an allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past or have an allergy to eggs should not get the flu shot.
The flu vaccine is safe. There are very few side effects. With the flu shot the arm may be sore for a few days, a fever, feeling tired or have sore muscles for a short time. With the nasal spray vaccine the side effects are runny nose, headache, cough or sore throat. With pregnancy you should not get the nasal spray vaccine. However, it is recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot.
There are antiviral flu drugs, which are prescription medicines that can be used to help prevent or treat the flu. Taking these drugs with in 2 days of getting sick can lessen your symptoms and decrease the amount of time a person is sick. Your doctor will decide if these medications are right for you.
Call our office to get your flu shot, 757-488-3333.
~ Dr. Abdelshaheed
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