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Flu season warnings and preventions

Contributor

Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:01

As advertisements for the flu vaccine cover the walls and stands of every store and health care facility you visit, you know one thing is certain - flu season has arrived.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu,  is a “respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.” Symptoms of the virus can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and headaches. The vomiting and diarrhea typically tied with the flu is mainly seen in children.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has some tips for preventing the flu this season.  The list of preventative tips can be narrowed down to three specific preventative measures. The first is that you get yourself vaccinated.

“The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu virus.”

There is a common misconception about the flu vaccine, however. Because the vaccine only contains the noninfectious virus, it can’t cause influenza. Any illness that appears shortly after the vaccination is a coincidence. There is a possibility of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine which can include an allergic response or fever, soreness, redness and swelling. While there is a possibility of a reaction, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the costs.

The second recommendation for preventing the flu is standard remedies that could be considered everyday health habits, such as staying away from people that are currently sick, staying at home for 24 hours if you get sick and limit your contact with others so as to not infect them. Also, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and be sure to clean and disinfect and surfaces that are frequently touched at home, school or work. Practicing good health habits such as these can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce your chances of getting sick.

Lastly, doctors can prescribe antiviral drugs to fight and prevent serious cases of the flu. These drugs can only be prescribed and not bought over the counter. If you get sick, the antiviral drugs work best within the first two days of symptoms.

Success for the flu vaccine can vary from person to person and depends on the characteristics of the person being vaccinated and the “match” of the vaccine to the virus that season. Still, following these simple recommendations can keep you healthy and flu-free for this winter season.

 

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