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You Can Fight the Flu!

 
  Introduction
 


Since the flu has been in the news so much, you can't help but wonder whether you or your family will be able to beat it. How can you improve your odds of winning the battle?

  • Use the flu guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Follow the instructions from your healthcare provider.
  • Know what's going on with the flu in your community.

A Cold or the Flu? How Can I Tell the Difference?
When those first sniffles show up, you hope it's just a cold and not the flu. Even though these diseases are caused by different viruses, it can be hard to tell the difference. Here's how they compare:

Cold Flu (Seasonal or H1N1)
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Sneezing
· Sore throat
· Cough
· Headache
· Fever
(Low in adults, but up to 102° F in babies and small children)
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Sneezing
· Sore throat
· Dry cough
· Headache
· Fever (Usually high)
· Chills
· Body aches
· Feeling very tired

Especially in kids, also:
· Vomiting
· Diarrhea

Most of the time, the flu hits you fast and makes you feel worse than a cold. If you're not sure whether it's a cold or the flu, get your healthcare provider to check it out. Flu medicines work best when you start taking them within the first couple of days after getting sick. With the right medicine, you'll keep safe from complications and get back on your feet faster.

Do I Need a Flu Shot?
Anyone who's worried about getting the flu can get a flu shot. To get protected against the "regular" (seasonal) flu, you'll need a "regular" flu shot. To get protected against the H1N1 (swine) flu, you'll need a second shot just for that.

The CDC says that people who could become especially sick from any type of flu should definitely get vaccinated. This includes:

  • Kids over 6 months old (children over 6 months and under 10 need two doses of the vaccine. Speak with your doctor for more information.)
  • Teens
  • Pregnant moms-to-be
  • The over-50 crowd
  • Anyone who's already dealing with an illness like diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung disease

You should also get flu shots if you're taking care of anyone in this list. Yes, moms, that includes you!

If you're not a "needle" person, you can get vaccinated with a nasal-spray vaccine called LAIV (or FluMist®). A flu shot contains dead flu virus. Side effects of a flu shot can be a low fever, aches, or irritation where the needle went into your body.

The LAIV (or FluMist®) nasal-spray contains a weak form of the live virus. Side effects from the nasal-spray vaccine can be runny nose, headache, sore throat, or cough. Kids can also have wheezing, vomiting, muscle aches, or fever.

If you think that a flu shot made you sicker than is normal, you can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

What Else Can I Do to Protect Myself?
There's a lot you can do to keep from getting the flu. Taking these steps can help you stay well and kicking through the flu season, no matter which type of flu is going through your community:

  • Get vaccinated for both types of the flu.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. And don't hog your germs! Throw tissues in the trash right after you use them.
  • If you don't have a tissue handy, cover your nose and mouth with your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day, especially after you cough or sneeze. Sing the "Happy Birthday" song all the way through while washing your hands. That's how long it takes for soap to kill the germs!
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand cleaner with you, for times when you don't have soap and water to wash your hands. In places where alcohol-based cleaners are not allowed, using a non-alcohol based cleaner is better than nothing.
  • Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands. Germs get from your hands into your eyes, nose, or mouth to make you sick.
  • Avoid getting close to people who sneeze, cough, or have other flu-like symptoms.
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What If I Get the Flu?:   Next Page >
 


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