If you’ve ever had the flu you know how miserable it is, literally knocking you off your feet for days with a fever, coughing, sore throat, and body aches. But do you fully understand the medical risks involved?
According to the CDC, the 2017-18 flu season saw 900,000 people hospitalized and 80,000 die from the flu. Those numbers are staggering, which is why you need a flu shot every year.
Flu season normally begins in October, peaks between December and February, and tapers off in the spring. But you can get the flu all year long.
At Primary Care Walk-In Clinic in Gilbert and Fountain Hills, Arizona, we keep our patients healthy by treating symptoms of the flu, or more ideally by preventing it. Dr. Pankaj Chopra, Dr. Neha Maheshwari, and Dr. Sufia Khan, and our nurse practitioners Stephanie Niepokoj-Dunn and Ericka Vaughn are flu specialists who are here to help you.
High-risk groups for the flu
While we recommend that everyone over 6 months old gets a flu shot annually, there are groups at a higher risk of developing serious complications. They include children 6 months to 5 years old, adults over 65, and pregnant women. Also on the list are those with heart disease, asthma, chronic lung diseases, or a weakened or damaged immune system.
A flu shot is the best defense
Keep in mind that it takes up to two weeks for your body to bolster your immunity after you get your vaccination. So getting a flu shot sooner rather than later means you’re better protected, and it’s less likely that the vaccine will run out. While it’s not a perfect system and the flu changes from year to year, getting an annual vaccination offers protection against several different flu viruses. This is why it’s so important to get your flu shot every year.
The idea that the shot causes the flu is not true, but you can still get the flu even if you’ve been vaccinated. The shot works by helping your system build antibodies, which fight the virus if you’re exposed to it. If you got the flu shot and end up still getting the flu, it’s likely that your symptoms will be milder.
As we go through your medical history, we may advise skipping the shot if you’re allergic to eggs or had a bad reaction to a flu shot in the past. However, there are now FDA-approved vaccines for adults that don’t contain eggs, which we discuss with you.
Other ways to outsmart the flu
To help avoid exposure to the virus, wash your hands often, especially after being in public places. Don’t put your hands and fingers on your eyes, mouth and nose, and avoid people who are sick. You can also stay informed with sites like the FluView report to know what ‘s happening in your area.
Treating the flu
If worse comes to worst, and you have symptoms of the flu, which can also include chills, cold sweats and weakness, come to see us right away. We do a simple flu test by swabbing your nose, and if you do have the flu, we may put you on antiviral drugs, acetaminophen and/or NSAIDs. You’ll also need to take care of yourself with lots of rest and fluids.
The flu is nothing to mess around with, which is why you need a flu shot every year. Call us or use the handy “Request Appointment” button for an office visit, flu shot or any other immunization.