What if we told you we could prevent 7.5 million people from getting the flu each year?
What if we told you we could also prevent more than 6,000 deaths related to the flu?
Well, that’s what the flu vaccine does every year: It keeps millions of people from getting sick and thousands of people from dying.
Here at Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, we get lots of questions about the flu and the flu vaccine each year. We think it’s important that you have the most complete, accurate information possible, so we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions:
What is the flu?
Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses in the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include:
- Cold sweats and chills
- Dry, continuous cough
- Sore throat
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
The two main types of flu that affect people are influenza A and influenza B.
How is the flu treated?
Many times, the flu is treated by just letting the sickness run its course. Antiviral drugs are also a treatment option. They won’t completely wipe out your symptoms, but they can lessen the severity of the sickness and reduce the amount of time you’re sick.
The flu is extremely contagious, so you should stay home from work or school and avoid contact with others while you’re sick.
When is flu season?
The exact time and duration of flu season vary each year, but activity begins to increase in October. The number of cases usually peaks between December and February.
Should I get the flu shot?
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine each year. The vaccine causes you to develop flu antibodies that lower your chances of getting the flu.
The vaccine contains a killed flu virus to allow you to develop the antibodies; getting the vaccine won’t give you the flu — this is a common misconception.
Each seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the strands of influenza that researchers expect to be the most prominent during that year’s flu season. As noted above, the vaccine is highly effective in preventing both flu cases and flu deaths.
With flu season upon us, the team of providers at Arlington Family Practice strongly encourages you to schedule an appointment to get your flu shot or to get treatment if you’re experiencing flu symptoms. Call our office or book your appointment online. Stay safe this flu season!