Fall is around the corner, which also means Flu Season!
Influenza is an acute respiratory illness that is caused by Influenza A or B viruses. It occurs in outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, typically during the winter. Types A and B influenza viruses are responsible for the large flu epidemics. Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, weakness, runny nose, sore throat, and a dry cough. Influenza is an acute, self-limited, and uncomplicated disease amongst the general population, including healthy children. The symptoms usually gradually improve over two to five days, but the illness may last for one week or more.
Influenza is very contagious and is spread from person to person primarily through sneezing, coughing, talking, and touching. You can also come in contact with the flu virus by touching smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, television remotes, computer keyboards, and telephones. Flu virus can linger on surfaces for up to eight hours. You transmit the germs to your body when you touch your hands to your nose, eyes, or mouth.
The most common complication of influenza is pneumonia, which occurs most frequently in patients with underlying chronic illnesses.
The typical presentation in patients with pneumonia is increase in fever and respiratory symptoms i.e.: productive cough, after initial improvement in the symptoms of acute influenza.
The most common complication of influenza in children is otitis media (ear infection). Approximately 3 to 5 percent of children have an acute ear infection associated with influenza each year. The ear infection typically happens three to four days after the onset of influenza symptoms. Also, in children, influenza may cause pneumonia, croup, and bronchitis.
Laboratory testing for influenza virus is indicated if the results will influence the decision regarding treatment, such as starting antiviral medication. Testing may be indicated for patients who are at high risk for complications, including children younger than two years of age. This will be assessed by the health care provider. Testing is not needed for healthy patients who have signs and symptoms consistent with influenza, once it has been documented in the region or community.
Prevention of influenza includes frequent hand washing and use of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. Also, get a flu shot because the best way to avoid the flu is to get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. ProHealth Medical Care and ProHealth will have it available at the end of August / beginning of September this year!
Getting the flu shot anytime during the winter is fine if you haven’t already gotten it. Try not to make an excuse to not get this vaccine! You can’t get the flu from the vaccine because it contains a weakened or killed form of the virus. Your arm may be a little sore the next day and you may feel a little achy or run a low grade fever afterward, but the possibility of these minor discomforts doesn’t even come close to how terrible you will feel if you contract the flu!
There are two types of vaccines available: the flu shot is approved for people ages 6 months and older, and costs $28 at ProHealth Medical Care and ProHealth; and the nasal spray, FluMist, is approved for people between the ages of 2 and 49 who are healthy and not pregnant. The price for FluMist at ProHealth Medical Care and ProHealth is $38 this year.
Photo, “Cartoon Man With The Flu Stock Image” by Grant Cochrane provided by freedigitalphotos.net.