Archive » October 19, 2007
By Fred Cicetti, Journal Contributor
My columns usually start with a question from a reader, but this one was suggested by a sharp newspaper editor who thought I should warn seniors to get a flu shot. Thanks for the idea.
The last flu season in the U.S. and Canada was mild, but health officials are predicting that this season will be nasty. Flu season in the northern hemisphere can range from as early as November to as late as May. The peak month usually is February.
More than 200,000 flu victims are hospitalized annually in the United States; about 36,000 people die from it. As much as 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year.
Flu is a contagious illness of the respiratory system caused by the influenza virus. Flu can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear problems and dehydration.
Droplets from coughing and sneezing spread the flu. An adult with flu can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. Children may spread flu for more than seven days.
The best way to combat the bug is to get the flu vaccine. You have to get inoculated annually because new vaccines are prepared every year to combat new versions of the virus. When you battle the flu, you develop antibodies to the invading virus, but those antibodies donít work on new strains. The vaccine does not prevent flu in all people; it works better in younger recipients than older ones.
[Personal note: I used to catch the flu every winter. About 10 years ago, I started getting the vaccine. I havenít had the flu since.]
Contrary to rumor, you canít catch the flu from the vaccine. The flu vaccine is not made from a live virus.
The vaccine can be administered anytime during flu season. However, the best time to get inoculated is October-November. Adults over 50 are prime candidates for the vaccine because the flu can be fatal for older people,
You can get the flu vaccine from your doctor, at public health centers, senior centers, pharmacies and supermarkets.
There is a flu vaccine in nasal-spray form that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49. The nasal sprayís safety has not been established in seniors.
The recovery time for the flu is about one to two weeks. However, in seniors, weakness may persist for a longer time.
The common scenario for flu is a sudden onset of symptoms, which include chills, fatigue, fever, cough, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscle aches and appetite loss.
While nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can be related to the flu, these are rarely the primary flu symptoms. The flu is not a stomach or intestinal disease. The term ďstomach fluĒ is inaccurate.
When symptoms strike, get to a doctor as soon as possible; the faster the better. There are prescription antiviral drugs to treat flu.
Over-the-counter medicines can help relieve symptoms of the flu. You should also drink liquids to prevent dehydration, and sleep to bolster your immune system,
If you have a question, please write to email@example.com
All Rights Reserved © 2007 by Fred Cicetti