November 9, 2011

Flu Review: Ten Flu Facts You Should Know

There are many reasons why you should get the flu shot to prevent the flu. Did you know that influenza is a killer? In fact, when combined with pneumonia, it is the eighth leading cause of death in this country? Frequently, the term flu is used to indicate any respiratory or GI illness. However, the word “flu” is an abbreviation for influenza, a serious respiratory infection. Here are a few things you should know about the flu.

  1. Typical influenza symptoms are high fever, weakness, muscle aches, dry cough, nasal congestion and headaches.
  2. A worrisome complication of influenza is pneumonia and this can be lethal especially in the very young or very old.
  3. People of all ages can develop serious complications of influenza.
  4. Deaths related to influenza vary year to year ranging between 3,000 – 50,000.
  5. The flu shot is the best available option to prevent the flu. Although there can serious side-effects from flu shots, these are very unusual.
  6. Typically, the flu shot is very well tolerated but , occasionally, is followed by a few days of flu-like symptoms which are so mild those affected don’t miss work.
  7. The biggest problem with flu shots is the effectiveness which, in those at high risk for serious flu complications, can be less than 50%.
  8. The effectiveness can be magnified if a large percentage of the population takes the flu shot, reducing the overall pool of infected individuals.
  9. Flu contagiousness can be also be decreased by avoiding contact with seniors or children if you have flu-like symptoms. It’s also wise to use good hand washing or antiseptic hand gel before visiting those at risk.
  10. It is best to take the flu shot early in the flu season, which runs from fall to spring. However, there is still some benefit taking the shot at any time before the end of this season.

As a community, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones by following the simple, proven public health precautions outlined above.