Flu or influenza is a viral respiratory disease that happens mainly during the coldest months. The virus travels through the air when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs. You can either inhale the virus directly from the air or get it from surfaces and objects, then transfer it to your nose, mouth, or yes.
Once you get the virus, you become contagious even before getting the symptoms. The flu symptoms usually occur within 48 hours after being exposed to the virus.
- Chills and sweats
- Aching muscles
- Dry, persistent cough
- Weakness and tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Diarrhea and vomiting common in children
Most people who contract the flu can get better after two weeks without medical attention. However, the flu can cause other complications like:
- Worsening existing medical conditions
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
Other causes of breathing problems include allergies, sinusitis, nasal polyps, and being overweight.
While anyone could catch the flu, some people are at a higher risk of getting it and getting complications. These include children, people over 65 years, people with existing chronic illnesses, overweight people, and pregnant women.
Myths And Facts About Flu
Flu is a common disease, which is why you need to know all about it to protect yourself better. Like other diseases, there are myths and facts about the flu that you should know about to increase your protection measures.
Myth: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine
Fact: The flu vaccine contains weakened, recombinant, or inactivated flu viruses. Therefore, they do not have the strength to cause the flu if you already did not have it. It, however, enables your body to develop the required antibodies to fight the flu virus.
Some people, however, may experience mild flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine, including low-grade body aches and fever. These, however, go away after a day or two.
Myth: You do not need to get the vaccine every year.
Fact: Your immunity from the flu vaccine declines as time goes by, which is why you need to get the vaccine every year. Also, the flu viruses change over time, and the vaccines change to match the new types of viruses.
Myth: I don’t need the flu vaccine if I’m healthy.
Fact: Everybody, including healthy people, can get the flu. Therefore, annual vaccination is necessary for everybody over six months old. It helps improve your immune system in protecting you against the virus.
Myth: The vaccine is dangerous and can have adverse side effects.
Fact: You might experience some side effects from the virus-like flu-like symptoms, soreness, redness, and swelling around the injection site. However, these side effects are rarely fatal, and they go away after one or two days.
Myth: I cannot get the flu if I’m vaccinated.
Fact: While the flu vaccine helps protect you from getting the flu, you might still get sick if you are vaccinated. It takes around two weeks for the antibodies that protect you from developing.
Also, there are different types of flu, which means that if you got a vaccine that covers specific flu variants, you could still get the flu from another variant.
Myth: The flu is only a bad cold and is not that serious.
Fact: While the flu and common cold have similar symptoms, they are not the same. The flu is more dangerous than a cold and can cause fatal complications. The symptoms from the flu can last for up to two weeks, while those from a cold go away quicker.
Some of the fatal complications that you might get from the flu include sepsis, bacterial pneumonia, and secondary infections like a sinus or ear infection. It could also worsen existing diseases and conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart failure.
While anybody can get serious flu complications, people at the highest risk include young children below two years, people over 65 years, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, people with a weak immune system, and people with obesity.
Myth: You cannot spread the flu if you do not have the symptoms.
Fact: Flu symptoms could sometimes take days to develop even after being infected with the virus. Even though you do not have symptoms, you could still be contagious because you are most contagious during the first two to four days after you get the virus.
Some people remain contagious for up to seven days after getting infected. Therefore, you should avoid close contact with people if you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus.
Myth: People with egg allergies cannot get the flu vaccine.
Fact: Some of the FDA-approved vaccine flu vaccines are manufactured using egg-based technology, meaning that they have an egg-based protein. However, allergic interactions are rare, and you can still get the vaccine if you have an egg allergy.
However, you need to consult with your doctor before getting the shot. You can have a specialist in allergies administer your shot so that they can treat any reactions or receive one of the two egg-free vaccines available.
Myth: The vaccine is not safe for pregnant mothers.
Fact: While there might be some side effects after getting the flu vaccine, it is safe to get it while pregnant. The CDC actually advises women in their third trimester to get vaccinated. That is because pregnant women are more vulnerable to getting the flu and complications.
Myth: You cannot do anything if you or your child get the flu.
Fact: You need to know the symptoms of the flu. Call a doctor immediately if you notice any of those symptoms in you, your child, or anybody close to you. You can get prescription antiviral medications that will ease the symptoms and prevent any fatal complications.
Myth: Vitamin C prevents you from getting the flu.
Fact: While a healthy diet with many vitamins could help improve your immune system, adding vitamin C to your diet does not guarantee that you will not get the cold. The only guarantee is to get vaccinated and avoid interactions with people who have the flu.
The flu could differ from person to person, and in some people, it gets worse than in others. The best thing to do is seek medical attention immediately you recognize the first symptoms.