Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Singing the Flu . . . oops, Blues!

Lots of silly myths about it

What am I talking about? The flu season is here (yikes!)
I hate being sick, rebounding emotion from fighting a cold for about seven weeks! I'm like a paranoid guard, always scared I'm going to get something or the other. And the thoughts of getting the flu--well, ick! No, thanks.

Here's 12 flu myths we'll swat away!

  • The flu is annoying but harmless. Yeah, right. You usually feel terrible! Congestion, cough, nasty body aches, fever, the feeling you've been hit by a Mack truck. Serious complications: 200,000 people hospitalized; 36,000 killed.
  • The flu vaccime can give you the flu. Wrong. Flu vaccines only contain dead virus; it can't infect you. Many times the side effects are taken for flu.
  • There is no treatment for the flu. If you get to the doctor within 48 hours of contracting the flu, an antiviral medication can help.
  • Antibiotics can fight the flu. (As I tell my smart hubby all the time . . .) Antibiotics only fight bacterial infections. The flu is not caused by bacteria, but by a virus. Sometimes you'll develop secondary conditions (ear infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia--these can be treated with antibiotics).
  • The flu is only dangerous to the elderly. True that the people most likely to become seriously ill (or die froma the flu are those over 65, but it can be risky for anyone.
  • "Stomach flu" is a form of influenza. No relation. If you have vomiting and diarrhea, but no fever or body aches, you probably don't have the flu.

Influenza virons magnified
  • If you get the flu once during the flu season, you can't get it again. The "flu" isn't a single virus. Three's usually a Type A and a Type B in circulation. Flu shots are the thing for protection.
  • If you're young and healthy you don't need a flu shot. Nonsense. Anyone can get the flu. It's a virus!
  • You can skip years between flu vaccinations. Nope. Other diseases, yes. The vaccines last longer, but not for the flu. Because of so many different strains of flu that are dominant every year.
  • Vaccines are dangerous. No study has ever found a link between developmental disorders in children with vaccines.
  • Cold weather causes the flu. The flu is prevalent in the cold weather season, but there's no connection. Maybe because we're inside more?
  • If you haven't gotten the flu vaccine by November, there's no point in getting vaccinated. Sorry, that's not the case. (As I should know, I got the flu one year in February!) Sometimes the flu doesn't hit its peak until February (or even March!).

Influenza spreads by aerosols created by coughs or sneezes.

Influenza spreads by aerosols created by coughs or sneezes.

There's your medical lesson for today. Now take heed!

The quieter you become, the more you can hear. --Ram Dass


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