Fight the Flu
Each flu season is unique and cannot be predicted. On average the flu season will peak from late November through the end of March. Approximately five to 20 percent of the U. S. residents get the flu and flu infections are associated with substantial medical costs, more that 200,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every year. Myths about the flu are everywhere. Given that the flu can be serious, it is crucial to know what's fact and what's fable. Following are the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) corrections for the common flu myths:
Five Common Flu Myths
STATEMENT: Influenza is the same as the "stomach flu."
FALSE. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or “sick to your stomach” can sometimes be related to the flu - more commonly in children than adults - these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza.
STATEMENT: Getting a flu shot the only way to prevent the flu.
FALSE. Although vaccination is the first and best line of defense against the flu, there are two other steps recommended by CDC to protect yourself and others from the flu. The CDC advises good hygiene habits and taking prescription antiviral medicines if your doctor prescribes them.
STATEMENT: I cannot spread the flu if I’m not sick.
FALSE. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days.
STATEMENT: Sicknesses caused by viruses, like the flu, cannot be treated.
FALSE. Antivirals are a second line of defense against the flu. Antivirals are not sold over-the- counter and are different from antibiotics. You can only get antivirals if you have a prescription from your doctor or healthcare professional. When used for flu treatment, prescription antivirals can make you feel better and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.
STATEMENT: I cannot get the flu if I received a vaccine.
FALSE. The ability of flu vaccine to protect an individual depends on two things: 1)Age and health status of the person getting vaccinated. 2)Similarity or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those circulating in the
community. In years when the vaccine and circulating viruses are well matched, the vaccine is 70-90 percent effective.
Antibiotics, over-the-counter treatments and home remedies such as chicken soup do not treat of prevent the flu. Antiviral medicines, such as pills, liquids or an inhaler directly fight the flu virus in the body. When used for treatment, antivirals can shorten the time of sickness by one or two days. Antivirals are different from antibiotics. They are not sold over-the-counter, a prescription from a doctor is needed.
Tamiflu is not a vaccine, it is a prescription antiviral medicine that directly attacks the flu virus and may prevent it from spreading inside the body. Tamiflu reduces flu duration by directly attaching the virus which may help people get better faster, plus, it may reduce a person's chances of getting sick if exposed to the flu virus. Tamiflu is available in capsules and oral suspension for children or adults who have difficulty swallowing capsules. Always remember to check with your doctor.