8. Do you need a flu shot?

What is the flu (also called influenza)?

The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and is most commonly spread through coughing or sneezing by someone who has been infected with the virus.  The flu is most commonly marked by:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • dry cough and sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can also occur but are more common in children

Complications of the flu can be serious and include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Who should get vaccinated?

The influenza (flu) vaccine is approved for use in people six months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.  People who should get vaccinated each year are:

People at high risk for complications from the flu:

  • Children aged 6 months until their 5th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities

Others who should be vaccinated:

  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu
  • Health care workers
  • Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza

How is the flu treated?

The treatment generally focuses on relieving symptoms and includes:

  • rest until the flu is fully resolved
  • drinking fluids
  • acetaminophen (such as Tylenol and other brands) to relieve fever, headache and muscle aches
  • avoid using alcohol and tobacco
  • cough suppressants

Can the flu be prevented?

You can take an active role in reducing your risk for and the spreading of influenza by doing the following:

  • Get an flu (influenza) vaccine every year – ideally in October, November or December.
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Eat a well balanced diet and get plenty of rest
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • If you get the flu, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings to avoid spreading of the illness
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth - germs often spread this way

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

www.affinityhealth.org
then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/influenza.html

www.medlineplus.gov


Adapted from:  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Reviewed: 1/07
Reviewer: rfc

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