As we enter into flu season I thought I would provide some information on Influenza. Influenza is a contagious respiratory infection, influenza is not a serious health threat for most people. However, for the elderly or those who have a chronic health problem, influenza can result in serious complications, such as pneumonia.
Symptoms of the flu usually develop suddenly, about three days after being exposed to the virus. They include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and soreness and aching in the back, arms and legs. Although these are similar to those caused by cold viruses, flu symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms of what is commonly called stomach or intestinal flu do not accompany influenza.
The flu is highly contagious and, if it occurs in your family or community, there is no practical way to avoid exposure to the virus. Bed rest, a mild pain reliever and lots of fluids are the best treatment. Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses.
Flu vaccines, while not always effective in preventing the illness, do reduce the severity of the symptoms and protect against complications that could develop. Who should get the vaccine? Well it’s recommended anyone over 6 months. Persons allergic to eggs or who have a high fever, however, should avoid or postpone getting a flu shot. Because influenza vaccine is only effective for one year and viruses vary from year to year, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year. In Alberta, the flu season usually begins in late October and lasts until around the end of March. If you plan to get a flu shot do so early since it takes about two weeks to develop full immunity. This means if you intend to get a shot for this flu season, go as soon as possible.