Flu and You

Susan C. Marty PA-C and Carrie M. Karki
September 25, 2014

What is FLU?

Human influenza A and B are the viruses that cause seasonal flu epidemics almost every winter. The influenza A (H1N1) virus predominated the 2013-2014 flu season.

The flu, which has an incubation period of 18-72 hours, spreads via aerosolized molecules created by coughs or sneezes of infected people. Viral shedding occurs either just before the onset of illness at 0-24hrs or, for some people, at the onset of symptoms, and continues for 5-10 days. Children may shed the virus longer, increasing the risk for infection to those around them.

How is FLU diagnosed?

Diagnosing infuenza A or B can be difficult if based solely on clinical exam alone, as many of its symptoms overlap with symptoms caused by other viruses.

However, common flu symptoms include; headache, fever (varies, but is usually high), runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, vomiting, body aches, muscle and joint pains, and fatigue.

Sudden onset of the illness is common. Patients who have prior immunity to a specific strain or who may have received the vaccine may have milder symptoms if infected.

What to expect:

Patients with influenza generally recover in 3 days, and benefit from bed rest and hydration. However, fatigue may persist for several weeks.

Antiviral agents, if administered within the first 40hrs of symptom onset, may help reduce the duration and severity of the flu.

What can I do to prevent catching FLU?

You prevent catching FLU you should clean your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Always cover your cough, to prevent others from possibly catching the flu from you. Additionally, you should avoid touching your eyes, face, and mouth, as these are the easiest was for the flu to enter your body.

But, the best treatment is prevention of the flu with the flu vaccine. The vaccine that is administered each year is developed with antigens from two strains of influenza A and B (the strains most likely to cause influenza infection during the winter season). It provides good protection against immunized strains, and becomes effective approximately 10-14 days after administration.

Who needs a flu shot?

The flu shot is recommended for everyone. Children under 5, adults over 65, and people with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chronic lung diseases, and pregnant women are the most at risk of having serious complications from flu and should make it a priority to get vaccinated early.

But I had a flu shot last year…

It is important to get the flu shout every year. Flu vaccines are made each year to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

When is the flu shot available?

Manassas Clinical Research Center already has the flu shots available! Do not wait until the “start” of the flu season to get vaccinated, call or stop by today to get your flu shot!