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Influenza also called the Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that affect the nose, throat and the lungs. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes lead to death if not prevented or treated.

Some people mistake the “common cold” as flu because both have few symptoms in common such as cough and stuffy nose, it is very important to differentiate the two and know when to seek immediate medical attention.

Flu has more severe and intense signs and symptoms such as; fever or feeling feverish and chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), some people may have vomiting and diarrhea (runny stomach) which occurs mostly in children.
However, not everyone infected with influenza experience all these symptoms at the same time. Some people do not have fever.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE: Absolutely. This is a saying that has resonated with us for ages and if we all adhere to it, we will all live a longer life free of disease and illness. Before I give you tips on how to prevent flu infection, here are more understandings of influenza virus infection. Some people say they refuse to take the flu vaccine because they still get the flu even after the shot, some say the vaccine even makes them sicker. No, flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are certain things that might happen with flu vaccine. For example, one can experience allergic symptoms or mild side effects associated with the vaccine such as, soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, low grade fever and body aches which lasts for a shot time. In children, the nasal spray may cause moderate side effects such as runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting and muscle aches. It take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body so it is better to get vaccinated early in the fall before the flu season gets under way. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on factors such as age and health status, and most importantly, a match between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community. However, even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and the benefit outweighs the risks. Flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness.

How Flu spreads: Direct contact- by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land on the mouth or noses of people who are nearby. Indirect contact- a person can get flu by touching a surface or object that has influenza virus and then touch his or her own mouth, nose or eyes. A person can actually pass on the flu to someone else before even knowing that they have the flu, which means that an adult may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms begin and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Anyone can get the flu and serious complications related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are more at risk of developing complications if they become sick. These include people 65 and older, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and young children. There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu, but most importantly, good enough rests, plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, eating healthy foods and visits to the doctor.

Preventing flu: Stay away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, frequent hand washing, and most importantly getting a flu vaccination once every year.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others, but some people say they still get the Flu despite taking the flu shot, and as such, refuse to get vaccinated, therefore it is very important that we understand how flu vaccines work.

Flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the virus that is in the vaccine. There are different kinds of flu vaccine; the traditional vaccine called Trivalent vaccines are made to protect against three viruses such as, an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. There are also flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses. These flu vaccines are called Quadrivalent vaccines and they protect against the same viruses as the Trivalent vaccine and an additional B virus. Influenza vaccine can be given by injection or through nasal spray. In either case, you should know the component of the vaccine you are getting. If you are allergic to eggs, you should not have those manufactured using virus grown in eggs. Inform your doctor of your allergies before getting vaccinated. Also it is important to know the type of vaccine recommended for a particular season, your age, and your health conditions.

Flu vaccines are offered in many places including doctor’s offices, health departments, and clinics. Yearly flu vaccinations are recommended because the body’s immune response from the vaccines decline over time, so annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Moreover, flu viruses are constantly changing so check with your doctor which type is best for you.

. It can keep you from getting sick with flu.
. It can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
. It is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
. It helps protect women during and after pregnancy, and can pass on to the baby.
. It may make your illness milder if you do become sick.
. Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you from getting the flu from you if you do have it.


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