Flu Season, Almost Here… Vaccinate Against Influenza Now!

LWMSeptOct2014-Final_Page_14The Flu (also known as Influenza) is a type of bronchitis. In other words, it’s a cough. A common misconception is that the flu is a gastrointestinal illness, involving nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, this is incorrect. The flu is actually a form of bronchitis, and always involves a cough.

The Flu is a viral illness. That is, it is caused by a virus, not by a bacterium.

When you get the flu, you are usually going to be sick for a week or two. During this period of time, you will probably be miserable. This is because the flu involves not just coughing, but also malaise. Malaise is that really sick feeling that you can get with certain viral illnesses, that makes your whole body feel awful. If you’ve ever had the flu, you will never want to get it again. There is a medication to treat the flu. This medication is called Tamiflu. It is only effective if administered during the first couple of days of the infection.

There is an immunization available to prevent the flu. This is known as the “flu shot”.

Many patients wonder whether they should get the flu shot. Here are the facts about the flu shot, to enable you to make your own decision as to whether to get one or not: The flu shot cannot cause the flu. However, your body can develop a reaction to the flu shot. This reaction feels pretty much just like the flu. The reaction to the flu shot is rare, but does occur. Those people who have gotten the flu shot and then had this reaction swear that the flu shot gave them the flu. Well, it didn’t, but what they did experience is so much like the flu as makes no never-mind. The reaction that some people have to the flu shot usually does not last more than a day or two, so it’s not as long-lasting as the flu itself.

Now, there are some patients who will tell you that they were very sick after getting the flu shot, and that the sickness lasted over a week. One has to wonder whether these people were just about to get sick from the real flu when they got the flu shot. That is, it may have just been a coincidence. After all, the flu shot doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu immediately. It takes about 2 weeks for it to start protecting you from getting the flu.

The flu shot does not prevent all cases of the flu. It is actually only about 50% effective. That is, you can get the flu shot and then still catch the flu. But it’s less likely that you will get the flu. And if you get the flu, it will probably be less severe.

Since the flu is such an unpleasant illness, and since it lasts from 1 to 2 weeks, most people who have had it will get the flu shot. They just don’t want to ever have the flu again. But those who have never had the flu will often decide not to get the flu shot. They’ve heard that you can have a reaction to the flu shot which is unpleasant, and they see no reason to take the chance.

Since the flu is such an unpleasant illness, doctors universally recommend that all patients get the flu shot. But it’s a personal choice.

The flu can be fatal to some patients. This is especially true of older patients. So anyone over the age of 60 should take the dangers of the flu into consideration when deciding whether to get the flu shot. Even if the flu shot makes you a little bit sick, isn’t it worth it to prevent an infection which could potentially kill you?

If you get the flu shot, it doesn’t just protect you. It also protects all the people in your life. This is because the flu, like all viral infections, is more likely to spread if more people get it. So even if you may not care about protecting yourself from the flu, you may want to get the flu shot in order to protect your family, friends and co-workers.

By: Dr. Roshelle Beckwith
Winding Cross Urgent Care of Leesburg
Shenandoah Square Shopping Center (adjacent to the Walmart)
952 Edwards Ferry Road, NE
Leesburg, Virginia 20176
703-687-4158

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