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What Do Doctors Give For The Flu

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Things To Ask And Watch For

Why Doctors Say Flu Shots Are so Important This Year

If youre considering at-work vaccination, feel free to ask who is administering the vaccine, and about their qualifications, says , a hospital epidemiologist and medical director of infection prevention at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Delaware.

The person who is giving the vaccine should be certified to do so and should be comfortable giving injections, Dr. Drees says.

Anyone getting vaccinated should expect to sign a consent form. An employee should always be asked about allergies and other contraindications for the shot or any current illness, Drees says. You should also receive one of the CDCs Vaccine Information Statements with information about the flu vaccine ahead of time.

Schleiss advises people to ask which vaccine is being given. Getting the flu shot at a doctors office might offer you more options. Trivalent vaccines protect against three strains of the flu, for instance, while quadrivalent vaccines protect against four strains. There is also a nasal vaccine for needle-phobic patients, and a recently licensed enhanced potency flu vaccine that is an option for those 65 and older, he says.

What Are The Symptoms Of The Flu In A Child

The flu is a respiratory disease, but it can affect the whole body. A child can become suddenly ill with any or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever, which may be as high as 103°F to 105°F

  • Body aches, which may be severe

  • Headache

Extreme tiredness that can last weeks
Sore throat Sore throat in some cases

A cold is usually mild and often goes away after a few days. The flu can cause severe symptoms and lead to problems such as pneumonia and even death. The symptoms of the flu can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

What Should You Do If You Feel Sick

If you feel unwell with any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to self-quarantine at home including avoiding contact with other household members and to get a COVID-19 test. Many testing sites take appointments without a referral from a doctor.

We have to take an abundance of caution and try to catch all of these cases where we can, said Fahimi.

Jahan Fahimi, MD

The benefit of knowing you have COVID-19 is that you can take precautions to prevent spreading the disease, contact tracers can alert people you have been around recently, and doctors can follow up in case your condition worsens.

We may be able to preemptively get someone into care a little bit sooner, which could impact their disease trajectory, said Fahimi.

Flu tests are also widely available but generally require a visit to the doctors office or urgent care. When diagnosed early, the flu can be treated with the antiviral Tamiflu.

Even if you test negative for both COVID-19 and the flu, its best to self-quarantine until three days after your symptoms disappear, said Fahimi. Theres a small chance that a negative test result could be wrong. Moreover, many other respiratory illnesses, from the common cold to croup, circulate during the flu season and spreading them would also spread uncertainty.

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Pregnancy And The Flu Shot

One misconception about the flu vaccine is that its unsafe for pregnant women, and that expectant mothers should stay home when its being given at work. Not true, says Drees, but there are some things to keep in mind.

Pregnant women should not get the live, intranasal flu vaccine all live vaccines are to be avoided in pregnancy but they do not need to avoid being around people who have received the intranasal or the standard flu shot, Drees says. The intranasal flu vaccine is modified so that the virus can only grow in the cooler temperatures of the nose, not in the warmer temperature of the lung, so it cant cause influenza, pneumonia, or other serious disease.

Many employers dont offer the live vaccine anyway. If a womans workplace only offers the traditional flu shot, there is no concern whatsoever, Schleiss says.

Drees stresses how important it is that pregnant women get vaccinated. Pregnant women absolutely should get the flu shot themselves as they are at risk of serious complications from the flu, and to protect their newborn, who cannot be vaccinated until age 6 months, she says. Flu vaccination during pregnancy has been proven to improve the outcomes both in women and in their babies, and can be given in any trimester.

RELATED: Follow flu-risk trends in your area with the Everyday Health Flu Map.

Who Is Most At Risk

Top 10 Facts About the Flu Vaccine

Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.

Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu:

  • babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant
  • children under 5 years of age, because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
  • people 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
  • pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change especially later in pregnancy making them more likely to get seriously ill from the flu
  • people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes

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Flu Shots Are Critical If You’re In A Disaster Affected Area

While doctors recommend that virtually everybody get their flu shot, Dr. Tewari, based in Houston, Texas makes the timely point that if you are in a disaster-affected area, it’s particularly critical.

Hurricane Harvey and the other natural disasters affecting many have brought dirty water, and viruses are not visible like mold so we don’t even know what’s in the air,” says Tewari. “People have been displaced, are living in shelters, wearing borrowed clothes and eating donated food. You just don’t know what you’re being exposed to. Plus, when youre stressed your immunity gets lowered.”

Are There Different Types Of Flu Tests

In a lab setting, there are a few different ways to test for influenza. The most common test for flu is called a “rapid influenza diagnostic test” . These RIDTs detect the part of the virus that stimulates an immune response, known as an antigen, the CDC says. Another type of flu test, called a “rapid molecular assay” detects the actual genetic material of the flu virus. Both of these tests are termed “rapid” because they can provide results in 1015 minutes or 1520 minutes .

Even more accurate than RIDTs and rapid molecular assays are tests most often found in hospitals or public health laboratories . Those tests are known as: reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, viral cultures, or immunofluorescence assays, the CDC says. These results also take a little longerup to several hours.

But as far as you’re concerned, all of those tests require the same thing from you: a nasal swab, where a provider swipes the inside of your nose or a throat swab, Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, tells Health. Even more specifically, some tests go further back in the nose, while the rapid test only goes right inside, Anjali Mahoney, MD, MPH, a family medicine specialist with Keck Medicine of USC, tells Health.

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How Do I Know If I Have A Cold The Flu Or Covid

In this July 23, 2020, file photo James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and specimen vial in the new COVID-19, on-campus testing lab at Boston University in Boston.

How do I know if I have a cold, the flu or COVID-19?

Experts say testing is the best way to determine what you have since symptoms of the illnesses can overlap.

The viruses that cause colds, the flu and COVID-19 are spread the same way through droplets from the nose and mouth of infected people. And they can all be spread before a person realizes theyre infected.

The time varies for when someone with any of the illnesses will start feeling sick. Some people infected with the coronavirus dont experience any symptoms, but its still possible for them to spread it.

Cough, fever, tiredness and muscle aches are common to both the flu and COVID-19, says Kristen Coleman, as assistant research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Symptoms specific to COVID-19 include the loss of taste or smell.

Common colds, meanwhile, tend to be milder with symptoms including a stuffy nose and sore throat. Fevers are more common with the flu.

Despite some false portrayals online, the viruses have not merged to create a new illness. But its possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which some are calling flurona.

What Is The Flu

Doctors Push Flu Vaccine

The flu is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications . It affects people of all ages. The flu is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes that contain the flu virus.

It is estimated that flu contributes to more than 3,300 deaths in Australia each year.

Even healthy people can sometimes die from the flu. For vulnerable Victorians, like young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system or chronic medical condition, the flu can have serious and devastating outcomes.

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Drugs And Treatments For The Flu

Treating the flu mainly means relieving major symptoms until your body clears the infection.

Antibiotics arent effective against the flu because its caused by a virus, not bacteria. But your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infection that may be present. Theyll likely recommend some combination of self-care and medication to treat your symptoms.

People who are at high risk for flu complications should seek immediate medical attention. High-risk groups include:

  • adults ages 65 years and older
  • women who are pregnant or up to 2 weeks postpartum
  • people who have weakened immune systems

In most cases, however, the flu just needs to run its course. The best treatments for people with the flu are lots of rest and plenty of fluids.

You may not have much of an appetite, but its important to eat regular meals to keep up your strength.

If possible, stay home from work or school. Dont go back until your symptoms subside.

To bring down a fever, place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead or take a cool bath.

You may also use over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .

Other self-care options include the following:

  • Have a bowl of hot soup to relieve nasal congestion.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption.

OTC medications wont shorten the length of the flu, but they can help reduce symptoms.

How Can I Help Prevent The Flu In My Child

The best way to prevent flu is to have the yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is given as a shot . A nasal spray is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season. The CDC says this is because the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons.

Each year, a new flu vaccine is available before the start of the flu season. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about how vaccines work and how well they prevent flu. The first time a child between the ages of 6 months and 8 years gets a flu vaccine, he or she will need a second flu vaccine one month later.

The vaccine is advised for all children 6 months and older. But for some children, its more critical for them to get a flu shot. The flu shot should be given to any child who has any of these:

  • A long-term heart or lung condition

  • An endocrine disorder such as diabetes

  • A kidney or liver disorder

  • Weak immune system from HIV/AIDS or long-term steroids

  • A blood disorder such as sickle cell disease

A flu shot should also be given to:

  • A child who has a family member with a chronic health condition

  • A child or teen taking aspirin as long-term therapy

  • A child with parents or caregivers at high risk of complications from the flu

Some side effects of the vaccine can be like mild flu symptoms, but the vaccine does not cause the flu. Possible side effects of the flu vaccine include:

And you can help prevent your child spreading the flu to others if you:

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When To Call Your Doctor About The Flu

If you are at special risk of complications, contact your doctor as soon as your symptoms begin. Those at increased risk for serious complications include persons who:

  • Are 50 years of age or older
  • Are a resident of a long-term care facility and have chronic medical conditions
  • Have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma
  • Have metabolic diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, anemia or other blood disorders
  • Have a weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, cancer treatment or steroid therapy
  • Are between 6 months and 18 years of age and receive long-term aspirin therapy
  • Will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season
  • Are 6 months to 2 years of age

If you are otherwise healthy and not at increased risk of complications, seek medical advice if your flu symptoms are unusually severe, such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • A cough that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus
  • Feeling faint

Also, see your doctor immediately if you think you might have signs or symptoms of pneumonia, which may include a severe cough that brings up phlegm, a high fever and a sharp pain when you breathe deeply.

Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine

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Though the CDC recommends virtually everyone over age six months be vaccinated, some groups are particularly susceptible to flu’s complications.

Those include children, pregnant women and adults over age 65. People with chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes, may also be at particular risk, as well as anyone with a compromised immune system.

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When To Get The Shot And How Long It Lasts

Now, let’s say you get the flu shot and two days later you get the flu. Well, you didn’t get sick because of the vaccine , but it does point to a loophole: the vaccine takes two to three weeks to have full effect. This is why doctors recommend getting it as soon as it’s available.

If you get the vaccine now, you should be covered through the duration of the flu season, which can start as early as mid-fall, and end as late as early spring. How long the vaccine lives in your system depends on your immune system, but for the general patient it’s between six months and a year.

“The vaccine is not that long-lived in part because the viruses that cause the flu are very smart and keep changing to infect us,” says Dr. Megha Tewari, a family medicine doctor at Memorial Hermann Medical Group. “This is why I tell my patients to get the flu shot every year.”

More Reasons To Go To The Doctor For Flu

Dehydration also needs medical attention. Signs that youre getting dehydrated include urinating less frequently than normal, feeling thirsty, and having trouble keeping fluids down, Bergen says. If you cant replenish fluids by drinking more, you may need to be given fluids intravenously.

Also go to the doctor or the ER for the flu if you seemed to be getting better, but find that your symptoms are returning. If your fever and cough roar back worse than before, you need to seek medical attention, Bergen says.

People who have asthma, diabetes, HIV, AIDS, cancer, or another chronic condition, those over 65, and women who are pregnant should seek treatment sooner than an otherwise healthy person, Dr. Kino says. If you have a weakened immune system, you have to be more concerned than the average person, he explains.

Your doctor may even be able to treat you over the phone, Bergen says. If the flu has been reported in your area and your doctor believes thats what you have, he or she may prescribe antiviral flu drugs. If taken early on, these drugs may shorten its course.

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The Goal Of The Vaccine Is Not Necessarily To Prevent Flu

Optimally, the flu vaccine will prevent you from getting the flu, but that’s actually secondary to the primary goals of the vaccine which are to prevent epidemic and to reduce the cases of severe flu infection.

How long the vaccine lives in your system depends on your immune system, but for the general patient it’s between six months and a year.

“At its most effective the flu shot would prevent you from getting the flu, but really when you look at studies, the purpose of the vaccine is to reduce the number of severe flu illnesses that require going to the hospital,” says Chang. “In other words if you get the flu vaccine, the real goal is even if you do get the flu that you are not as sick as you would be if you had not gotten the vaccine.”

Basically, if your immune system is primed to deal with the virus, should it still attack you, you likely won’t develop a severe flu infection.

Another purpose of the flu vaccine: not everyone can get it, so it’s important that people who can receive it do so that “we build herd immunity,” says Dr. Tewari.

“A lot of patients who have immunological diseases, or an organ transplant, have cancer or other conditions may not be strong enough to get a flu vaccine,” Tewari adds. “But if those around them are vaccinated, we develop a herd immunity, so that hopefully the few people who can’t get the vaccine will not get infected.”

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