10 Things Your Doctor May Not Tell You About the Flu

Another flu season is upon us.  I am doing everything I can to make sure the flu doesn’t visit our house.  This article was very informative for me and I wanted to share the information on to you….

  1. You can still get the flu, even if you get the flu shot.CDC estimates that each year the flu vaccine is between 70 and 90 percent effective, so there is still a chance you may become infected even if you’ve been vaccinated.  Two factors determine how well the flu vaccine works. The first is the characteristics and immune status of the person being vaccinated. Generally, the flu vaccine works best in healthy adults and older children. The second factor that determines effectiveness is how similar the flu viruses that the vaccine was designed to fight are to the influenza germs actually spreading in the community.


  1. You may be contagious before you even know you have the flu. Most healthy adults can infect other people with the flu virus beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. To best protect yourself and others around you, practice good hand-washing hygiene and take other precautions like covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.


  1. You can request mercury-free flu vaccines. Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, has been used in vaccines for decades to prevent contamination from germs, bacteria, and fungi. Though several studies have shown that low levels of thimerosal do not cause harm, it has been removed from many vaccines for use in children. While some forms of the flu vaccine still contain thimerosal, if you prefer, you can request a single-dose unit or the nasal spray option, both of which are thimerosal-free. However, all options for the flu vaccine are safe.


  1. The flu virus can travel up to six feet. If you notice someone around you is sick, keep your distance. When someone infected coughs, sneezes, or talks, they can spread the flu virus through droplets in the air that can travel up to six feet and land in the mouths or noses of others nearby.


  1. There is a right way to wash your hands. The most effective preventive measure you can take to ward off the flu (besides getting the flu shot) is washing your hands. So make sure you’re washing your hands properly. The CDC recommends using soap and warm water, and rubbing hands together for 15 to 20 seconds, the amount of time it would take you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head. Use paper towels or an air dryer to dry your hands and, if possible, a paper towel to turn off the faucet.


  1. The flu vaccine comes in needle-free options. A fear of needles is no reason not to get the flu vaccine. The FDA recently approved a  needle-free injector for use with the Afluria flu vaccine in people ages 18 to 64. A nasal spray vaccine – the recommended delivery method for the flu vaccine in children ages two to eight – is also available for people ages two to 49.


  1. A high-dose flu vaccine is available, but only for adults over 65. Older adults are eligible and may want to consider the high-dose vaccine option available to them.


  1. You can still exercise with the flu. Though rest is paramount to overcoming the flu, some physical activity may be possible with milder symptoms.  Listen to your body for signs that you are over-exerting yourself and do not exercise if you have a fever. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.


  1. Some home remedies may actually work. Though there is no scientific evidence that home remedies have any benefit against the flu, there’s a reason why a bowl of chicken soup will often help you feel better. According to the Mayo Clinic, it acts as an anti-inflammatory and temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly bringing relief to congestion. Some doctors recommend patients gargle with salt water three times a day and breathe in steam from a hot shower or a sink with hot water to help clear nasal passages.


  1. Some over-the-counter nasal sprays can become addictive. While nasal sprays help ease congestion, those that belong to a drug class called vasoconstrictors constrict the blood vessels that cause congestion, which can lead to a rebound effect. That means your nose will continue to need the spray in order to get congestion relief. As an alternative, use saline-based sprays to help clean nasal passages.

To learn more about the flu, signs and symptoms of the flu and how to treat it, click here: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm

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