POINT PLEASANT — Sometimes, drinking that extra glass of orange juice just isn’t enough.
When it comes to the flu, there are some who may think it can be kept at bay by loading up on vitamin C. While that may seem to work at times, the reality of the matter is, vaccination is sure to be the best method in preventing the flu. According to Diana Riddle, of the Mason County Health Department, there are still many flu shots left, and they are free of charge.
While the term “the flu” is very common, the same may not be true when it comes to the real information concerning it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the flu as “a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.” Common symptoms of the flu can vary from fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body and headaches, and fatigue. Some may even experience vomiting and diarrhea, although that is more common in children rather than adults.
It is believed that the flu is spread mainly through droplets made by people when they cough, sneeze or talk. It could also be spread if one touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then they touch their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Symptoms do not need to be present in order for someone to spread it either. According to the CDC, “most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.”
While there have been tremendous strides in modern day medicine, the flu can still get very serious in some instances, and have a big impact. Elderly people, young children, pregnant women, and people who live in facilities such a nursing home are at a greater risk for complications. The CDC states that some complications of the flu can include “bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.”
The flu can also be easily confused with the common cold, and vice versa. According to the CDC, the main difference between the two is that the cold usually won’t lead to any life threatening illnesses. The symptoms are very similar, but the flu tends to be more intense that a cold. The illnesses are caused by two different viruses, so tests can be done, if needed, to determine whether it is just a cold, or the flu.
The best and most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone who is 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year, according to the CDC. Even if one is not considered to be a in a high risk group, one may come in contact with someone who is, and may unknowingly spread the virus.
For more information regarding flu shots and when they are offered, contact the Mason County Health Department at 304-675-3050.