Are you experiencing early flu symptoms? Jason Sutton, MD from WellMed came by to give us the 101 on flu symptoms. The flu as most people refer to it is actually multiple strains of a few different viruses that change year to year. Some of the more recent strains seen in the headlines people may be familiar with are swine flu or avian flu. It usually occurs during the months of November to April, though there is already sporadic activity in most states this year. It can effect up to 20% of the US population in a year. It usually causes a self limited illness with symptoms including fever, cough, body aches, runny nose and sore throat. In some high risk people the outcomes can be much more severe including hospitalization and death. Estimations are that there about 200,000 hospitalizations per year, and anywhere from 3000 to 49000 death per year.
What can be done to prevent the flu?
This is the most important question when it comes to the flu in my opinion. Vaccination is the most effective and quickest way to decrease your chances of getting infected every year. There other things you can do such as avoiding individuals who are infected, washing your hands and so forth. But vaccination is still your best bet at avoiding the flu all together. It can decreasing your chances of getting the flu all together by 50% or more. If you do happen to get the flu the outcomes are usually much better for you 75% of the time or more. People have less severe disease, get secondary infections less often, end up hospitalized less. This is actually the perfect time to discuss this issue because this is the perfect time to get vaccinated. It is currently recommended by the CDC and other large health organizations that people get vaccinated every year. In our area it is recommended we get vaccinated towards the end of October with the injection type of vaccine, and it usually takes about 2 weeks for your body to respond to the vaccine in order to confer immunity or benefit
Who should get vaccinated?
It used to be recommended that only certain population get vaccinated each year. It is now recommended that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. Certain populations are an even greater focus. Those considered high risk are those older than 60-65, pregnant, children, and people with certain chronic medical conditions including chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver or neurologic disease. There are high dose vaccines for those who are at higher risk, especially those 65 and older to give their immune system that extra boost they might need. That population represents up to 90% of the deadly flu infections.
Common misconceptions about the flu vaccine?
It seems everyone has a reason to avoid getting the vaccine. I understand, it takes time, no one likes needles, there are some common side effects like redness, itching, mild aching at the injection site, but usually nothing severe.
Some people think they got vaccinated last year, so they don’t need it this year. These are developed following the trends throughout the world to determine which strains are likely to hit us, so the vaccine one year may not work the next. Even if the strains are the same subtle changes in the viruses may require new vaccines. In fact people usually have improved effects if they are vaccinated year after year, rather than just one time.
To find a WellMed location or physician near you, call 888-781-WELL (9355) or go to WellMedHealthcare.com.
Sponsored WellMed. Opinions expressed by guests on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.