Do you know what the symptoms of the flu are? While often confused with a common stomach virus that runs its course, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, especially in older individuals. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently—even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated isn’t just important for yourself; when more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Below are some commonly asked questions about flu vaccinations:
How well does the flu vaccine project someone from the flu?
There are many different strains of influenza, so the vaccine—and its effectiveness—can vary from year to year. Each year a vaccine is developed to match the strains expected to be prevalent in the coming flu season. While it is impossible to predict the prevalent strains exactly, the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Its effectiveness also depends on your typical health; the vaccine is effective, but it won’t make you invincible.
Is there a vaccination for children and a different vaccination for adults?
There are two different types of flu vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and quadrivalent, which protects against four. It is advised that patients speak with their provider to determine which vaccine is best for them. Continue Reading »
There’s a good chance you’ve heard about Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, a rare virus similar to the common cold that is infecting U.S. children across the Midwest. Here’s what you need to know about this virus:
What is it?
EV-D68 is an infection that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus and sputum. It is spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces. Washing hands can help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus.
Who is at risk?
Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to this virus. Children with asthma have a higher risk for respiratory illness and should take all of their regularly prescribed medication and have rescue medications on hand. Infections are more common in the summer and fall months.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of EV-D68 infection aren’t much different than common respiratory viruses like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
• Runny nose
• Shortness of breath
• Body and muscle aches
Severe symptoms may include wheezing or difficulty breathing. If at any time your child is having difficulty breathing, has blue lips or is gasping for air, please seek immediate medical attention.
What are the treatments?
There is no specific treatment for people infected with EV-D68. Over-the-counter medications will help relieve some of the mild respiratory symptoms mentioned above. Aspirin should not be given to children.
What can be done to prevent contraction of EV-D68?
You can help stop potential outbreaks/infections by following these prevention tips: Continue Reading »
While the best way to stay healthy this flu season is to get vaccinated, there are some other things you can do to protect yourself.
Here are a few:
1. Practice good hand hygiene. Encourage everyone in your family to practice regular handwashing, especially after using the bathroom, before and after handling or eating food and after coming in from the outdoors. Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.
2. Take cover. Get into the habit of sneezing into your inner elbow. If you have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with it when you sneeze or cough.
3. Don’t touch. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.
4. Replace and wash items. Buy a new toothbrush after a cold or other illness. Wash your bedding at least once a week, especially pillow covers. Wash gloves, scarves and any other attire that covers your face or mouth. This is helpful in keeping germs away.
5. Stay hydrated. Dry nasal passages make it easier for the flu virus to breed, so its important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is a natural moisturizer for the inside of your body. Aim for eight cups of water a day. Swap out fizzy carbonated drinks for herbal tea. Increase your fluid intake if you are on a high-fiber or high-protein diet. Continue Reading »
Frequent and proper handwashing is the key to killing germs and preventing the spread of colds and the flu. You might already know that, but do you really know the right way to wash your hands? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here’s how:
1. Wash your hands with warm running water and soap.
2. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing once through the ABCs or Happy Birthday).
3. Be sure to wash your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
4. Leave the water running while you dry your hands on a paper towel.
5. Protect your hands with the paper towel while you turn off the water. This will prevent your clean hands from touching the faucet – a potential source of germs.
When soap and water aren’t available, gel sanitizers or wipes containing 60-90 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropanol are the next best thing. Keep these in your car, purse or desk. Using a dime-size amount of gel, rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of the skin and nails, until the gel is dry.
Continue Reading »
Cough, congestion, aches, chills. Cold and flu season is upon us. But which do you have? And why does it matter?
“Both the common cold and influenza (the flu) are respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses. In general, flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections,” says Richard Menet, MD, a physician with Affinity Occupational Health.
Get the FACTS
While many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza: