We are now seeing an increase in patients presenting with influenza and it is predicted that we are likely to see many more.
Influenza, the name of the virus for which the “flu” season is named, causes a highly contagious respiratory infection which often starts very quickly and may cause the following symptoms:
– Fever, headache, and extreme fatigue.
– Cough, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose.
– Body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
As opposed to influenza, a bad cold — often referred to as an upper respiratory infection — may have symptoms of nasal and sinus congestion, a sore throat, and ear pressure. Bronchitis may have a very bothersome nagging cough, but neither of these illnesses are likely to have symptoms of fever or body aches as influenza does.
The flu can cause mild to severe illness and occasionally can lead to death. Most healthy people who contract the flu recover without complications. However, some people — especially the elderly or the very young, as well as those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, are at a high risk for serious complications of the flu.
One of the most deadly side effects of the flu is pneumonia which is a very serious lung infection.
The flu usually spreads from person to person from respiratory droplets when one who is affected coughs or sneezes. It also often spreads by touching some object that has the influenza virus on it and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes.
A person coming down with the flu is contagious from one day prior to showing any symptoms and remains contagious for at least five days after the symptoms begin.
Although it has been reported that this year’s flu vaccine has not been very effective against the prevailing H3N2 strain of flu, experts still recommend getting the shot as it seems to add some protection. As it is said; “something is better than nothing.”
This vaccine is approved for use in people older than 6 months of age.
Almost everyone can benefit from the flu shot, but it is highly recommended for the following groups:
– Pregnant women and children younger than five years.
– People 50 years of age and older and those with chronic medical conditions.
– Those who live in nursing homes or other long term care facilities.
– People who work or live with those at high risk for complications of the flu.
The flu shot contains a dead virus which will cause a person’s immune system to create antibodies to help prevent one from getting infected, or at least to help lessen the effects of an infection.
It’s still worth considering, and not too late. Flu season can last well into springtime.