People At High Risk Of Developing Flu
Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu can also make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu. The list below includes the groups of people more likely to get flu-related complications if they get sick from influenza.
Summary Of Key Results
Less than half of patients with chronic health conditions report having been vaccinated against flu
- Less than half of patients with chronic health conditions report having received an annual flu vaccine by early November. Another 2 in 5 say they still plan to get a flu vaccine during the current flu season.
- 75 percent of patients who have received or plan to get a flu vaccine are doing so to protect themselves, 61 percent do so to protect their family, and 62 percent cite avoiding getting sick with the flu during the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for getting their annual flu vaccine
- 93 percent of patients agree that annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu-related hospitalizations and death
HCPs are not consistently recommending annual flu vaccination
- Less than a third of HCPs say they recommend annual flu vaccination to all of their patients with chronic health conditions
- 44 percent of HCPs say they recommend annual flu vaccination to most of their patients with chronic health conditions
- 20 percent say they recommend annual flu vaccination to about half of their patients with chronic health conditions
- 5 percent say they recommend it to about a quarter of their patients with chronic health conditions
Nearly all patients are getting recommendations from an HCP to get vaccinated, but cardiologists lead among specialists
How Long Does The Flu Last 14 Flu Faqs Answered
When the winds blow colder and the days grow shorter, you know that flu season is imminent. Its the sickness we dread with each doorknob we touch and each time we hear a coworker cough.In the spirit of flu season, were here to answer some of your most pressing questions about the virus: How long does the flu last? Is there any way to prevent it? Do you really need a flu shot?We spoke with medical professionals and consulted the holy grail of health care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , to answer all of your flu FAQs. Keep reading to hear how you can protect yourself and your family this flu season.
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Those With Chronic Health Conditions
For those of any age with chronic health problems, the flu can lead to worsening of those conditions or the development of complications.
You are at increased risk when you have:
- A weakened immune system: For example, due to cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic steroid medication use
- Lung disease , in large part due to sensitive airways
- Diabetes: The condition makes it harder for the body to fight infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus infections. The CDC notes that about 30% of adult flu hospitalizations are people who have diabetes.
- Heart disease
- Neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions: For example, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, intellectual disabilities, spinal cord injury
- Liver disorders
- Kidney disorders
American Indians, Alaska Natives, and people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are also at greater risk.
When To Seek Emergency Medical Care
Anyone experiencing any of the following emergency warning signs of flu sickness, including people with asthma, should seek medical attention right away.
These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.
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When Does Flu Season Officially Start
There is no fixed date for the start of the flu season. Instead, flu season is characteristically marked by the winter months coming in and the weather cooling down.
- Influenza may circulate lightly through populations throughout the entire year, causing a few infections, but winter weather triggers the flu to be exponentially more active.
- Although the medical field has not yet identified exactly why flu viruses are more active in the winter, cold weather is universally believed to be a primary catalyst for the start of the flu season.
- Once there is a significant spike in the number of influenza infections occurring throughout the population, the CDC officially declares that flu season has begun.
As this season progresses, the CDC constantly tracks, collects and analyzes data related to flu infections. This allows it to identify trends in when and where the flu virus is being spread. Based on these trends, the CDC can forecast when the virus is at its peak level of infectiousness and inform at-risk community members to take extra precautions.
Flu season typically falls sometime between the start of fall and the end of spring. For the past three decades, flu activity has peaked at some point between the months of October and February but always tapers off by April.
What Are The Symptoms Of Influenza
The most common symptoms of influenza are an abrupt onset of fever, shivering, headache, muscle ache and dry cough. People can confuse influenza with a heavy cold. Unfortunately some people call even a simple cold a touch of flu. However, influenza is usually a more severe illness than the common cold.
For most people influenza infection is just an unpleasant illness, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious. More common complications of influenza are bronchitis and pneumonia due to bacterial infections on top of the infection with the influenza virus.
Rarer but more severe complications are encephalitis and generalized infections. These complications often require treatment in hospital and can be life threatening especially in the very young, the elderly, and those in poor health.
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Tools To Help #loweryourflurisk
NFID has developed resources to help share the importance of annual flu vaccination and lower the risks of flu for patients with diabetes. Toolkit materials include:
- 30-second public service announcement and short social media videos
- Infographics for healthcare professionals and patients about the importance of flu prevention for those with certain chronic health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes
- Sample social media posts and graphics
View the flu & chronic health conditions toolkit at: www.nfid.org/loweryourflurisk.
To join the conversation and get the latest news on infectious diseases, follow NFID on using the hashtags #LowerYourFluRisk, #FightFlu, and #PreventPneumo like us on follow us on join the and subscribe to receive future NFID Updates.
What Are Some Common Flu Shot Side Effects
Some people do experience side effects after getting their flu shot. Of those who do, they are usually very mild and diminish on their own. The CDC outlines a few of the more common flu shot side effects:Soreness or swelling from the shotHeadacheMuscle acheFeverThese flu shot side effects are perfectly normal. However, there are a few other flu shot side effects that are not as common. These are very rare and may indicate an allergic reaction:Wheezing or difficulty breathingSwelling around the eyes or lipsHives or palenessDizziness or weakness
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People With Certain Chronic Health Conditions
- Heart disease: Heart disease patients are six times more likely to have a heart attack within seven days of influenza infection. People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke are at higher risk for developing serious complications from flu, and even death. Increased inflammation caused by flu infection can make heart disease symptoms worse even weeks after flu symptoms have resolved, leaving people vulnerable to permanent loss of function and disability.
- Lung disease : People with asthma and/or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease have an increased risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Flu can have a direct effect by increasing inflammation in the lungs and airways, which can trigger asthma attacks and make COPD symptoms worse
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have a greater risk of flu-related complications. Diabetes can interfere with the bodys ability to fight flu, and flu infection can interfere with management of blood sugar levels
- Compromised immune system: People who have weakened immune systems such as current and former cancer patients and people living with HIV/AIDS are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, including hospitalization and death
- Obesity: Individuals with a body mass index of 40+ have a higher rate of serious flu-related complications, including hospitalization
Types Of Flu Shots For People 65 And Older
People 65 years and older should get a flu shot, not a nasal spray vaccine. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in their age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another. There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 years and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for this age group:
High Dose and Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine Side Effects
The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the temporary, mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal flu shots. Side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise, and typically resolve with 1 to 3 days.
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What Are The Symptoms Of The Common Cold And How Do They Differ From Simple Influenza
Cold symptoms are limited to the nose and throat with runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, throat irritation and headache. The symptoms usually occur gradually and only rarely cause a high fever or body aches. In those with chronic respiratory conditions e.g. people with asthma they can make those conditions worse for a few days.
Uncommon and then low
Common and often a high fever
Aching muscles body
General malaise and lack of energy
Common but a minor feature
Common but a minor feature
What Are Common Symptoms Of The Flu
They usually come more suddenly than cold symptoms. They include fever, feeling feverish, the chills, and having a cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, and fatigue. Less common are vomiting and diarrhea. Children are more likely to have vomiting and diarrhea than adults are.
Not everyone with the flu has a fever.
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What To Do If Youre At High Risk
Take the time to get your yearly flu shot, especially if youre around young children or older adults. Getting your vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, visits to the doctor or hospital, and missed work or school. It can also prevent the spread of the flu.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older, healthy or at-risk, get the vaccine. If youre at high risk and you start showing any symptoms of the flu, see your doctor immediately.
There are many different kinds of vaccinations, from traditional shots to nasal spray. Depending on your condition and risk factors, your doctor may recommend a certain type of vaccination.
According to the
People At Higher Risk From Flu
Anyone can get sick with flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen to anyone at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions , pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
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Can The Flu Shot Make You Sick
A common misconception is that the flu shot makes you sick. The CDC asserts that the flu shot cannot give you the flu. At worst, you may feel a few minor side effects a few days after receiving your vaccination. This is because flu shots are made either with no virus at all or with an inactivated virus, meaning it is not infectious.There are a few side effects some people encounter after a flu shot, which are described below, but these are minor and will subside on their own. The reality is that even if you do experience side effects from a flu shot, they are much less severe than the effects of contracting the virus itself.
Where To Get A Flu Vaccination
Flu vaccines are available at many locations, particularly in health-related institutions, such as doctors offices, clinics, health departments, and pharmacies.
Some schools will also facilitate a flu vaccination program to prevent a school-wide influenza outbreak. This broad level of availability means even children who do not have a regular doctor can get protection from influenza.
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Boost The Immune System
The immune system protects the body from infection. When it is functioning properly, the immune system launches an attack on threats, such as flu viruses.
While the immune system usually does a good job of regulating itself, certain disorders, allergies, asthma, and some medications can limit immune function.
The following strategies can benefit the whole body, including the immune system:
- eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- exercising frequently
- reducing stress
Studies have produced some interesting findings concerning the immune system and the flu.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system. In people with low baseline vitamin D levels, taking supplements of the vitamin may halve the risk of respiratory infections such as the flu.
Meanwhile, flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in blueberries, red wine, and black tea, may help to control the immune response. According to a 2016 review , taking flavonoid supplements may reduce the incidence and impact of upper respiratory tract infections.
In addition, physical activity can have either a positive or negative effect on the functioning of the immune system. Regular moderate exercise reduces the risk of infection, while intense exercise, such as marathon running, could increase the risk.
People At High Risk For Developing Flu
Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu. The list below includes the groups of people more likely to get flu-related complications if they get sick from influenza.
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How Flu Affects Babies And Young Children
In children birth to 5 years old, influenza is more likely to cause severe illness and a bacterial co-infection. Lubna S. Madani, MD, medical director of Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care, says children in this age group are at higher risk of flu complications because:
- Their anatomy does not allow congestion to drain as well, and children can have fluid in the ear that eventually can grow bacteria.
- Young children, especially those who are frequently around other children, such as in a daycare setting, can carry bacteria in their noses. This bacteria may not pose a threat when the child is healthy, but if a virus such as flu infects the child, that bacteria can cause a secondary bacterial co-infection that can be severe and possibly fatal.
Because the virus is spread through droplets, children may be more prone to spreading the flu because they are more prone to touching their noses, and poor hand-washing, says Dr. Madani.
Therefore, Dr. Madani suggests giving them an immunization and teaching children to:
- Cover their mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and make sure they throw away dirty tissues immediately.
- Sneeze or cough into the sleeve of their clothing at the inner elbow to contain sprays of saliva and secretions and to avoid contaminating their hands.
- Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after their cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, as germs are often spread this way.