5 flu myths

5 flu myths

The cold weather has arrived, which means so has flu season. Here’s the truth behind some persistent myths that rear their ugly heads during flu season.

1. Myth: The flu is harmless.

Many people seem to think the flu is harmless, yet thousands are hospitalized each year with flu-related symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that up to 49,000 people die from influenza in any given year. In addition, for employers, the flu results in countless days of lost productivity.

2. Myth: If I get a flu shot, I’ll get sick.

The whole point of the vaccine is to prevent people from becoming ill. When a flu shot is administered with a needle, it is inert – dead. The vaccine protects against certain viruses, and it is possible for an individual to come down with a strain not included in the shot.

A second type of vaccine is given as a nasal spray. This vaccine uses a live but weakened virus that is just as safe as the flu shot.

3. Myth: If I get antibiotics from my doctor, the flu will go away.

Antibiotics are for the treatment of bacterial infections. In fact, if your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you would be better off not taking them because that will help the bacteria build up immunity, rendering the medications ineffective when you really come down with a bacterial infection.

Though there isn’t anything that will cure the flu once you become ill, there are some treatments, such as the Tamiflu pill and the inhaled drug Relenza that can reduce the symptoms.

4. Myth: If you catch the flu once, you won’t get it again during the same season.

If only it were true. But there is more than one strain of the flu that makes rounds in a given season. The vaccine can catch the one expected to be most prevalent in a given year, but there are many more to go around.

5. Myth: You can skip a year between flu vaccines.

The strains of flu viruses that are expected to become dominant change from year to year. What was likely to make you sick last year has been replaced by a different virus.

Talk to your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms including fever, coughing, sore throat and the chills. Sign in to Angie’s List to find a highly rated doctor in the Chicago area.

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