Every Flu season our doctors see many patients asking similar questions regarding the Flu and Flu Shot. We wanted to answer some of those questions here for you.
What is the Flu?
The flu is an respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms may be similar to a cold but be more severe and include fever, body aches, and exhaustion.
How long is a person with the flu contagious?
Within 24 to 72 hours after contact with the flu virus is when you become contagious. This is usually before any symptoms show. So you can be contagious before you know you are sick. After the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone to prevent spreading the flu to others.
What is the treatment for the flu?
There is a flu treatment but the catch is you have to have treatment administered within 48 hours of symptom onset. Prescription drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza can prevent severe disease and help cut short the flu and reduce recovery time. Over-the-counter remedies can help you alleviate symptoms such as cough medicines, fever reducers, and pain relievers. These don’t cure the flu, just alleviate symptoms. It is also important to drink lots of fluids as well.
When should I see the doctor if I have flu symptoms?
As mentioned above, if you see a doctor within 48 hours of symptom onset, you can be prescribed a prescription flu treatment. You should also see a doctor if the condition worsens or lasts longer than 72 hours.
Can you get the flu from the flu shot?
No. This is a myth. The vaccine is made from weakened viruses and cannot “give” the flu. The vaccine can however trigger your immune system and it may respond with very mild flu like symptoms but this is not actually the flu.
Who should get the flu shot?
The CDC recommends the vaccine be given to everyone over 6 months of age. It is highly encouraged that children and the elderly receive the shot. It is also encouraged that those with chronic health problems, pregnant women, and those caring for babies receive the vaccine.
I got a flu shots last year. Why do I need another one?
Two reasons. First is the immunity to the flu from the previous shot weakens. Second, the flu strains vary year to year so last years vaccine may not protect you against this years strains.
When should I get the flu shot?
As soon as possible. Flu season typically begins in October with first vaccines available sometime in September.
Does the flu shot mean I will not get the flu?
Not necessarily. The vaccine is not always 100% effective. But it is still highly effective and those who still get the flu but had the vaccine have a lesser chance of complications.