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Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs and airways that is also known as “the flu”
Anyone can get influenza. Influenza is spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. It may also be spread by direct contact with infected people or contaminated objects like door handles or computer keyboards. Influenza can be a serious disease that causes severe complications such as pneumonia. It can also make heart disease or chronic lung disease worse. In the United States, it estimated that 12,000 to 56,000 deaths are caused by influenza each year.
Symptoms of influenza might be confused with the common cold
Influenza and the common cold both have symptoms that affect the throat and nose, but influenza symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms. These symptoms include:
Symptoms usually start 1 to 3 days after being exposed to the influenza virus. Most persons feel better after several days but cough and tiredness may last two weeks or more.
There are ways to treat influenza
For the quickest recovery from influenza, get plenty of rest; drink fluids like juice, water, or hot tea; and consider a fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen (but do not give aspirin or aspirin-containing products to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms – including fever). Do not give any medication including over-the-counter remedies to a child without first consulting with your pediatrician. If a fever lasts more than 3 or 4 days, see your healthcare provider. A physician may also prescribe certain antiviral medications. These medications may make symptoms milder if taken within 1 to 2 days of when symptoms begin. However, antiviral medication should be limited to those with severe illness or those at higher risk for complications.
Look out for emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention. If you see these warning signs, seek medical care immediately, either by calling your healthcare provider or going to an emergency room. When you arrive, tell the receptionist or nurse about your symptoms. You may be asked to wear a mask and/or sit in a separate area to protect others from getting sick:
Yearly vaccination is the most important way to prevent influenza
Anyone concerned about getting sick from influenza virus should get a flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people at higher risk of complications from flu. The best time to get the influenza vaccine is as soon as it is available, but any time during the flu season is still a good time to get vaccinated. It takes about 2 weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the influenza virus. Past infection with influenza or immunization with the influenza vaccine does not necessarily protect a person from getting influenza the next year because influenza strains often change from one season to the next.
People who should receive influenza vaccination include:
There are some people who should NOT be vaccinated. These include:
Some people should talk to their doctor before getting the flu shot. These include:
Influenza vaccine may rarely cause serious side effects in some people
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. People who receive influenza vaccine rarely have any serious problems from it. However, some serious problems can occur, such as severe allergic reactions.
MORE INFORMATION ON FLU VACCINATION CAN BE FOUND AT http://cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm
In addition to vaccination, there are everyday steps you can take to protect your health and if you are sick, to prevent spreading influenza to others:
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