What is “the flu”? “The flu” is a common name used for Influenza A and B. It is a viral illness that is transmitted by respiratory droplets from an infected person. It is possible to transmit the virus very early on, even before it is known that a person has the infection. The incubation period is usually two or three days.

Flu Symptoms
Those infected often have severe congestion with headache, high fever, body aches, and decreased energy and appetite. Some times you may also expierance stomach upset or vomiting.In rarer cases you may have red itchy eyes with or without a discharge or a possible ear infection. These symptoms can lead to dehydration and in severe cases lead to respiratory distress that can require breathing treatments and or hospitalization.

To try and avoid getting the flu, you should follow strict guidelines for hand washing. Avoid situations for high risk exposure and protect yourself with an influenza vaccine every year. The flu shot is highly recommended by medical organizations for those in “high risks” populations. The most at risk for complications are the very old, very young, and those with chronic medical problems. Many physicians’ offices can perform a test to verify an infection with Influenza A or B. It is recommended that the above fore mentioned and all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years of age receive the flu shot. If the first dose is given under 9 years of age, a booster is recommended at least 4 weeks later. A flu vaccine should be given in October or early November, if possible, to receive the most reliable protection for the coming flu season. The immune protection peaks about 6 weeks after the shot is received and gradually wanes after that. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine,so it does not contain live viral particles. Be sure to mention to your doctor if you have an allergy to latex or a food allergy to eggs.

There is a “Nose Spray ” version of the flu vaccine. It is called FLUMIST. It is a live attenuated, cold adapted vaccine against influenza A an B. That means that it is active against influenza in the mucus membranes, where primary exposure occurs. When the vaccine encounters the warmth of the body, it is deactivated;therefore a few systemic side effects are observed from this method of vaccination. It is a safe and highly effective flu prevention. It is approved for use in healthy people ages 5-49. The major insurance companies and medicaid usually cover the flu shot for those who meet the high risk or recommended criteria; some cover it for all their customers.

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