We all know what the flu is, and I’m sure a few of you have felt the aches and pains associated with this virus. In the 2017-2018 flu season there were 80,000 flu related deaths, which is the highest it’s been in over three decades! To help you get ready for flu season we have put together some helpful information for you.
When does flu activity peak in the United States?
The influenza virus to circulate year-round, but it generally peaks between December and February. February tends to see the highest flu activity though.
How will I know if I have the flu?
Influenza is one of those viruses that will make you feel like you’ve gotten hit by a train when you wake up in the morning. You’ll know when you have it. But just in case you want to make sure, here are the symptoms for the influenza virus:
- Feverish and/or chills
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
*You don’t have to have all these symptoms to have the flu.
How does the flu spread?
The influenza virus is usually spread when an infected individual sneezes or coughs. When this happens, tiny droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are in the vicinity, thus infecting them.
How can I prevent the flu?
The best thing you can do is to make sure you get the flu vaccine every year! The CDC also recommends that you stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands frequently.
Will the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No, the flu vaccine is a dead virus. But you could develop flu like symptoms for a variety of reasons including:
- A two-week window: After you get your flu shot it takes about two weeks before it starts to work. If you are infected shortly before or after you may catch the flu.
- Reaction to the vaccine: Your body may produce protective antibodies that will give you flu like symptoms. This should only last a day or two.
- Mismatched viruses: Sometimes the flu shot doesn’t match the virus that is going around and, as uncommon as this is, you still have some protection against the virus.
I don’t like shots, are there any other options?
Yes, there sure is! You can either get the vaccine as an injection or a nasal spray! Although there are some things to be aware of when going the nasal spray route;
- The nasal spray vaccine is only approved for people between the ages of 2 and 49.
- Not recommended for pregnant women.
- Not recommended for people with weakened immune systems.
- Children 2-4 years old who have had wheezing or asthma in the past year.
*Make sure you check with your doctor first.
The flu can’t get worse right?
Wrong! When you get the flu, it weakens your immune system; and if your flu gets worse your body won’t be able to fight off the bacteria. Once the bacteria build up enough, it turns into something incredibly worse… pneumonia.
Here are the 4 stages of Pneumonia:
- Occurs in the first 24 hours
- Cellular exudates containing neutrophils, lymphocytes, and fibrin replaces the alveolar air
- Capillaries in the surrounding alveolar walls become congested
- The infections spread to the hilum and pleura rapidly
- Pleurisy occurs
- Marked by coughing and deep breathing
- Occurs in the 2-3 days after consolidation
- At this point the consistency of the lungs resembles that of the liver
- The lungs become hyperemic
- Alveolar capillaries are engorged with blood
- Fibrinous exudates fill the alveoli
- This stage is characterized by the presence of many erythrocytes, neutrophils, desquamated epithelial cells, and fibrin within the alveoli
- Occurs in the 2-3 days after Red Hepatization
- This is an avascular stage
- The lung appears grayish brown to yellow because of fibrinopurulent exudates, disintegration of red cells, and hemosiderin
- The pressure of the exudates in the alveoli causes compression of the capillaries
- Leukocytes migrate into the congested alveoli
- This stage is characterized by the “resorption and restoration of the pulmonary architecture”
- Many macrophages enter the alveolar spaces
- Phagocytosis of the bacteria-laden leucocytes occurs
- Consolidation tissue re-aerates, and the fluid infiltrate causes sputum
- Fibrinous inflammation may extend to and across the pleural space, causing a rub heard by auscultation, and it may lead to resolution or to organization and pleural adhesions