Be prepared for flu season

483229303Flu season is sneaking up on us. If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, it’s not too late.

Even though the flu is one of the most preventable viruses, it kills thousands of people every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 23,000 people die from the flu each year in the United States and about 200,000 people are sent to hospitals.

Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

“This is a disease that’s very clever; it causes illness and it causes death,” Dr. Ruth Carrico, infectious diseases specialist and clinical director of the UofL Physicians Vaccine and International Travel Center. “Getting an annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against the flu and those who do not like shots can get the vaccine through a nasal mist.”  Dr. Carrico also recommends early immunization to help prevent the onset of the flu virus.

Flu shots are available at most retail pharmacies and clinics or from your primary care physician and most insurers will cover the cost of the vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine. The UofL Physicians Vaccine and International Travel Center also has the flu vaccine available.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough and/or sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • A fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, although not everyone with the flu has a fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

To make an appointment or to learn more about the UofL Physicians Vaccine and International Travel Center, call 502-562-2822 or visit http://www.uoflphysicians.com/vaccine-international-travel-center.