I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I guess it’s already flu season. My niece who is in college, has come down with the flu! She never even got a chance to get a flu shot, which she has gotten for many years. I have also regularly gotten a flu shot, and it has worked out well for me. It’s been many years since I last suffered from the flu. And boy did I suffer!
My husband on the other hand has not had a flu shot since we have been married, despite the fact that I have been reminding, pleading and nagging him that he should get one. But he has been one of the lucky people that has avoided suffering from the flu…I hate him! Just kidding, hun!
People have had mixed feelings about getting flu shots. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that flu shots should be given to people aged 6 months and older. The CDC also recommends that people 65 years and older get an annual flu shot. I have already started nagging my mom and dad about getting one as soon as it is available.
The annual shots are usually available at the beginning of the flu season. The specific shots change on a yearly basis based on the type of flu that is expected for the upcoming flu season. While this is not an exact science, the researchers do a fairly good job of anticipating how the flu will be and create a shot that can combat the flu and protect you from being sick.
But let’s take a step back and talk about the flu. How do you know that you have it or if you have just a common, run of the mill cold? To determine is you might have the flu, you need to know the symptoms. Typically, if you are suffering from the flu you will experience symptoms such as a high fever, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, cough, fatigue and weakness, nasal congestion and a sore throat. While many of these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of a cold, the biggest difference is having a feeling of achiness, having chills while also sweating and having the feeling of weakness and being extremely tired. If you are not certain if it is the flu or a cold, contact a medical professional.
So, you didn’t get a flu shot, and don’t you know it…you got the flu! What can you do for it? Unfortunately, there is not a miracle cure for the flu. You can treat some of the symptoms such as headache, congestion, cough and sore throat, but this is to just make you feel better. Generally speaking the remainder of the symptoms will go away on their own. Unfortunately, the remaining symptoms can take up to a week to completely go away from your system.
So how can you prevent getting the flu? The best defense, although not 100% effective, is by getting an annual flu shot. In addition, there are a number of other suggestions on how to avoid being hit with the bug. They include washing your hands on a regular basis, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and if possible, avoid crowds during flu season. Nobody wants to be out at the mall on Black Friday and have people coughing and sneezing on you! Ick!!!
The choice to get a flu shot is entirely yours. You need to do what is best for you and for your family. The CDC recommends flu shots, but you don’t have to. However, it is recommended to get one if you fall into one of the following risk factor categories. They are your age, weight, unhealthy immune system and more. For more information on the flu, the Mayo Clinic has a very helpful article. Good luck and stay healthy this season!