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 »
Did you know that the flu shot we get in the fall is NOT for the “stomach flu”? You know, the vomiting and diarrhea bug? We get many calls at NurseDirect from people who have gotten the flu shot and can’t understand why they have vomiting and diarrhea. The flu shot is for upper respiratory problems, headaches, body aches, sore throats and the overall hit-by-a-truck feeling. So the influenza shot you get in the fall will unfortunately not protect you from the stomach bug that seems to ravage the Valley in the fall and winter.
This gastroenteritis, or stomach flu as it is frequently called, seems to hit hardest later in the year but can appear all year long. Often times it starts suddenly with an onslaught of vomiting over and over, followed by diarrhea right behind it. Although it seems endless at the time, the worst of the vomiting usually ends after 8-10 hours. The diarrhea tapers off, but doesn’t completely leave your system for several days. Remember though, everyone’s immune system is different and these viral bugs hit people differently. All models vary! You may or may not have fever with this bug.
There can be a lot of abdominal cramping with the stomach flu. Typically the cramps build up until you vomit or pass some stool. It lets up a little, only to build up and start the cycle again. Now, this is the important part! If the cramps or pain become constant and relentless it may not be the stomach flu. It is important to distinguish this difference between constant pain and intermittent-type pain. Constant pain could indicate something more serious and you need to see your doctor! Continue Reading »