It’s flu season and keeping yourself as healthy as possible is a top priority.
Knowing the facts and myths about the flu will reducing the chance that you and your loved ones contract or spread the flu this season.
MYTH: The Flu Vaccine Causes the Flu
One of the many myths about the flu is that the vaccination can cause influenza. The flu shot consists of an inactivated form of the virus. The inactivated strain cannot transmit infection. Therefore, if you receive the vaccination and contract the flu it is most likely due to the fact that the vaccine you received was a different strain than the one that made you ill. Or, since antibodies usually take about two weeks to protect you after the vaccination is given you may have been exposed to the flu virus during that time.
It is a possibility that the flu vaccination can cause some flu-like symptoms (the most common are low-grade fever and aches). It is NOT possible to get the flu from the vaccination!
The flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers. The CDC doesn’t recommend one type of flu vaccine over the other.
MYTH: There is Only One Form of Influenza (Flu)
There are actually several types of influenza including type A,B, and C flu viruses.
Year-round the most commonly referred to “flu” is the “stomach flu”. But gastroenteritis is not caused by influenza and is not related to the flu at all! Influenza is a respiratory virus. Although the seasonal flu can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some people (particularly the very young and very old) it is not a “stomach flu”.
Your doctor can test to see if the symptoms you are having are actually influenza and not a “stomach flu” or other “bug”. For the average person this is not needed. For the very young and very old, or people with a compromised immune system testing for the flu may be recommended since an antiviral medication could reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms.
MYTH: Antibiotics Can Help if You Contract the Flu
Influenza is a virus and antibiotics do not help fight a viral infection. Taking antibiotics when not absolutely needed is bad for your body and an unnecessary expense. If your symptoms worsen or linger longer than expected it is recommended to see your doctor. It is possible that you have contracted another illness while your immune system was busy fighting the flu.
MYTH: The Flu Vaccination is the Only Way to Avoid the Flu
The flu vaccination is a great way to be proactive and protect yourself from influenza. Vaccination is not the only way to stay healthy. Wash your hands often! Germs are the number one culprit. If you are are washing your hands often you avoid the spreading of influenza (and other illnesses) and possible contamination.
Stay away from anyone who is sick. If someone you are close to has recently contracted influenza avoid contact with them until their symptoms are gone. Avoiding the virus altogether is the best way to stay healthy.
Now that you know the truth about some of the myths about the flu you can improve your odds of staying healthy and free of the flu this flu season. Keeping up to date with your yearly vaccination is key. Also, remember to steer clear of anyone that is “not feeling well” to stay healthy and influenza free.