Flu Season is Here: What is the flu? And Is the Flu Vaccine Effective?
Winter is here, with its bright colors, cooler temperatures, and the beginning of the holiday season. In the Sonoran Desert, the change of weather is a much anticipated and highly appreciated break from the intense summer heat. Unfortunately, winter also brings with it the beginning of the cold and flu season.
Over the next five days, we will educate you about the flu so you can be prepared and minimize your risk of getting sick. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss a post in this Flu series.
What is the flu?
Flu is short for Influenza and is caused by the Influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory system causing runny nose, sinus congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are also possible.
How do you catch the flu?
The flu virus is contagious and is spread through the air from sneezing, talking, or coughing. It can live for 48 hours on inanimate objects such as doorknobs and countertops and is spread by touching those objects then touching your mouth or eyes. A person can be contagious one day before their symptoms appear and for another 5-7 days after they get their first symptoms.
Is there a difference between a cold and the flu?
Yes. Like flu, colds are caused by viruses that attack the respiratory system, but in most cases they are much less severe and don’t last as long. Flu, on the other hand, can be quite severe and carries a greater risk of serious complications. Pneumonia is the most common serious complication, especially among the elderly, infants and toddlers, pregnant women, and those with chronic respiratory conditions, like asthma and COPD.
A Pound of Prevention
Is there anything you can do about it? The answer is a resounding yes! You are not a sitting duck, but prevention is the key. Our immune system has an amazing capacity to protect us from this nasty virus, but it needs a few things to function at its best.
Is the Flu Vaccine Effective This Year?
NO! Experts from the NIH (National Institute of Health) and WHO (World Health Organization) have been warning that this year’s flu season may be a particularly bad one. One reason the flu may be more severe this year is that this year’s flu vaccine is not a good match for the circulating strains of flu, so it will not be very effective (predicted to be only 10% effective.) You can read more about the science here in Medscape.
Despite the fact that the flu vaccine is not likely to be helpful this year, some people insist on getting the vaccine “just in case.” If you choose to still get the flu vaccine, we recommend that you ask your doctor for the “mercury-free” version. A toxic mercury compound called Thimerosal is used as a preservative in multiple-dose vials of the flu vaccine. Many doctors and drug stores will have the mercury-free version of the flu vaccine available in single dose vials upon request.
Tomorrow – we’ll tell you about the Homœopathic Alternative to the flu vaccine. Be sure to follow along.
DISCLAIMER: The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient’s own physician. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care. The information contained herein is neither intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate or best care for any given health issue, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for the independent judgment of a physician for any given health issue. The major limitation of informational resources like this newsletter is the inability to take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the patient. If you have persistent health problems or if you have further questions, please consult your health care provider.