10 Myths about flu

By admin
10 June 2013

There seems to be no shortage of misinformation and bad advice when it comes to dealing with the flu.

1) I had a flu shot last year; is it necessary for me to get it again?

Absolutely. The flu strains that circulate in one year may differ from those that circulate in another. And of course people change from year to year, meaning your response to a viral infection one year may not be the same as your response in another. This year’s strain of the flu is incredibly nasty, so it’s best to get vaccinated.

2) I can wait until later in the flu season to get a flu shot so its efficacy doesn’t wane.

This will only increase your risks of getting flu. The flu vaccination lasts an entire flu season so it’s better to get your flu shot earlier rather than later.

3) A flu shot can give me flu.

No. The viruses in flu shots are weakened during the production of the vaccine, which means they can’t cause infection. Some people experience tenderness at the injection site, but it usually dissipates within two days. You may experience flu-like symptoms, but these may be caused by the immune system making antibodies that help a person fight off flu.

4) I’ve had a flu shot so I don’t need any additional protection against the flu.

Not a good idea. While the flu vaccination does reduce your chances of getting flu, it’s not enough to minimise your risk of catching the bug. Simple behavioural changes will also help you reduce your chances of catching flu ? avoid contact with people who have flu, wash your hands frequently and consider taking immune boosters, as well as antiviral medications to increase your protection.

5) I’m healthy and haven’t had flu before so there’s no need for me to get a flu shot.

Current guidelines suggest children aged six months to 19 years old, people living with a chronic condition, pregnant women, and anyone older than 49 be vaccinated each year. However, if you work or live in an environment where you have the potential to pass on flu to someone at risk it’s recommended you also get a flu shot ? this is particularly important for child minders, health-care workers and care-givers to the elderly.

6) A flu shot will affect my pregnancy.

The flu vaccine is an essential element of prenatal care and is recommended for all pregnant women. Pregnant women are among the groups at increased risk for flu complications such as pneumonia, infections and dehydration. Though babies can’t be vaccinated until they’ve reached six months of age, antibodies they received in-utero from their mothers may help protect them.

7) If I have chicken soup this will this speed up my recovery.

Hot liquids can soothe a sore throat and provide much-needed fluids to boost recovery. But chicken soup has no other specific qualities that can help fight the flu. Be ready to tackle flu symptoms as soon as they arise by stocking up on throat lozenges, tissues, nasal sprays and other essential self-medication products. Your pharmacist can give you good advice about what the best products are to keep handy.

8) If I have flu I need antibiotics.

Antibiotics work well against bacteria but they aren't effective for a viral infection such as flu. Then again, some people develop a bacterial infection as a complication of flu, so if your symptoms worsen it’s a good idea to speak to your pharmacist or doctor who can advise on what the best treatment would be.

9) I can't spread flu if I’m feeling well.

Actually, the World Health Organisation points out that 20 to 30 per cent of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.

10) A cold and flu are the same thing.

A cold and flu are two different types of viruses. The cold virus tends to produce symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion and sore throat. The symptoms gradually get worse over a few days. Having a cold may also cause tiredness, but it’s much less severe than the exhaustion that comes with flu. Flu (caused by the influenza virus) is more pronounced as it affects the lungs, the joints and may cause pneumonia, respiratory failure and in extreme cases even death. Symptoms come on quickly and are generally more severe than those of the common cold. Both the common cold and flu are contagious two to three days before symptoms start showing and for a week or two afterwards.

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