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Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs and airways that is also known as “the flu”
Anyone can get influenza. Influenza is spread from person to person through the air by coughing and sneezing. It is also spread by direct contact with infected people or contaminated objects like door handles or computer keyboards. Influenza can be a serious disease that causes severe complications such as pneumonia. It can also make heart disease or chronic lung disease worse. In the United States, it estimated that about 36,000 deaths are caused by influenza each year.
Symptoms of influenza might be confused with the common cold
Influenza and the common cold both have symptoms that affect the throat and nose, but influenza symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms. These symptoms include a high fever (over 100°F) stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Other symptoms of influenza include headache, tiredness, body aches, , and chills. Symptoms of influenza usually start 1 to 3 days after being exposed to the influenza virus. Most persons feel better after several days but cough and tiredness may last two weeks or more. Stomach cramps and diarrhea are not typical symptoms of influenza.
There are ways to treat influenza
For the quickest recovery from influenza, get plenty of rest; drink fluids like juice, water, or hot tea; and take an aspirin substitute for muscle aches and fever (but never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms – and particularly fever – without first speaking to your doctor.). Do not give any medication including over-the-counter remedies to a child without first consulting with your pediatrician. If a fever lasts more than 3 or 4 days, see your healthcare provider. A physician may also prescribe certain antiviral medications. These medications may make symptoms milder if taken within 1 to 2 days of when symptoms begin. However, antiviral medication should be limited to those at higher risk for complications.
Look Out for Emergency Warning Signs that require urgent medical attention:
In children, some emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
In adults, some emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
If you see these warning signs, seek medical care immediately, either by calling your healthcare provider or going to an emergency room,. When you arrive, tell the receptionist or nurse about your symptoms. You may be asked to wear a mask and/or sit in a separate area to protect others from getting sick.
Yearly vaccination is the most important way to prevent influenza
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated at the beginning of every influenza season. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people at higher risk of complications from flu, as well as those who work or live with people at high risk. The best time to get the influenza vaccine is as soon as it is available, but any time during the flu season is still a good time to get vaccinated. It takes about 2 weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the influenza virus. Past infection with influenza or immunization with the influenza vaccine does not protect a person from getting influenza the next year because influenza strains change from one season to the next.
People for whom influenza vaccination is especially important include:
Those at higher risk of complications from influenza, including:
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include
Influenza vaccine may rarely cause serious side effects in some people
Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot and LAIV.
The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As of July 1, 2005, people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) (http://www.hrsa.gov/Vaccinecompensation).
LAIV (FluMist®): The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely.)
Side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include In children:
MORE INFORMATION ON FLU VACCINATION CAN BE FOUND AT http://cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm
Aside from vaccination, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading influenza to others:
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