Virus Spreads Quickly, Comes on Fast, Says Dorrie Happ, MD
It may not seem like it, but flu season is just around the corner. Cases of influenza, or flu as it is commonly called, can start popping up in October and hang around through spring. The exact start of flu season varies from year to year and no one really knows when the virus will make its first local appearance. Doctors recommend everyone receive a flu shot each year, especially children, pregnant women, the elderly and those living with a chronic illness.
Influenza is a serious, highly contagious respiratory virus that enters the body through the mucus membranes in the mouth, nose or eyes. When someone with the flu sneezes or coughs, the virus becomes airborne and you could get sick by inhaling it. The virus can also live on surfaces for up to eight hours so if someone with the flu uses his hand to cover his mouth when coughing and then touches a doorknob, you could pick up the virus by touching that same surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Flu symptoms come on suddenly and can include fever of 100 degrees or higher, headache, muscle aches, chills, cough, a runny nose and severe fatigue. If someone has the flu, the best remedy is rest, plenty of fluids and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever or decongestant. There is also the possibility of complications developing, such as pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
The flu vaccine not only helps you avoid this year’s outbreak, it also prevents influenza from spreading in our community, which is vital for those who cannot receive the vaccination, including newborns and those with compromised immune systems.
This year, the flu vaccine that comes as a nasal spray is not available. The manufacturer decided to no longer make the spray after a study by the Centers for Disease Control found the nasal spray was only 3 percent effective in children during last year’s flu season.
Getting a flu shot is simple. You can call your medical provider or call us at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca at 715.256.3000 and make an appointment to receive the vaccination. Insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, normally cover the vaccination cost since they know receiving the shot will help prevent future health problems.
Don’t wait to get your flu shot since no one knows when the virus may show up in our community. You want to make sure you and your loved ones are protected.