HEALTH CENTER

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The Flu and You by Nicole Kimball

Nicole_ (425x640)There are many things that people want during the holiday season but the flu is not one of them.  According to the CDC approximately 5-20% of the population is infected with the influenza virus annually. Receiving the flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from spending the holidays sick in bed. It is recommended that people are vaccinated early. The flu shot is first available in early October. The majority of flu season falls between late November and March. After receiving the injection it takes approximately two weeks for immunity to take full effect.

The flu shot is not for everyone. It is not recommended for those who have an egg allergy, those with an acute illness, or people with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. The influenza vaccination is generally made with egg culture methods and this is why people with an egg allergy should only receive a flu vaccination made from non-egg culture methods.  Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder where your nerves are attacked by your body’s own immune system, characterized by paralysis that starts at your feet and moves upwards. If you are unsure if any of these contraindications apply to you please consult a physician prior to receiving the flu vaccine. In addition to receiving the flu vaccine you can help decrease your chances of getting sick by practicing good hygiene measures.

Even with the flu vaccination and good hygiene some people will still get the flu. If you experience fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, and/or fatigue you may be one of the unlucky ones.  It is recommended that if you experience these symptoms you see a physician right away. Some cases of the flu are severe enough to require hospitalization.

There are a few ways your doctor can diagnose the flu. Aside from making a diagnosis merely based on symptoms there are confirmatory tests they can order. One option is the rapid influenza test which generally takes 30 minutes or less to process.  All that is needed is a simple nose swab. There is also a second option of a throat culture which is taken and then sent to a laboratory to process.

If you are diagnosed with the influenza virus treatment is typically for symptomatic relief. However, for patients with a recent onset of symptoms, of 48 hours or less, an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu, may be indicated to reduce the duration and severity of illness. So remember, get your flu vaccine and have a happy and healthy holiday season.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.