The last flu season was brutal.
Medical experts say it's too early to predict the severity of the flu season.
But the flu in Arizona is on the rise and 290 cases have been reported nationwide so far.
While the number of cases reported so far this season is lower than at this time in 2017, they are also 66 percent higher than a regular flu season, the last flu Data from the Arizona Department of Health Services says.
The flu is like a cold, but worse and can make you sick and weak for up to two weeks.
Infectious respiratory infection typically causes high fever, body pain and fatigue. Influenza viruses can destroy the immune system and make those affected vulnerable to other illnesses such as pneumonia.
While a common cold usually occurs gradually, influenza abruptly sets in. It is rare to have a fever and a headache with a cold that are common with the flu.
Here are five things you should know about the flu and the safety:
Get a flu shot. (It will not give you the flu.)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone over the age of six months, including pregnant women, receive the vaccine, even though most Arizona adults did not receive flu vaccinations last season, says the Arizona Partnership for Immunization.
If you have any questions about the influenza vaccine or which vaccine is best for you, contact your doctor or health care professional, officials from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said.
The flu usually hits in the colder months of the year, as warm temperatures can prevent it from spreading. However, it is not too late to get vaccinated. Eric Katz, who chairs the Emergency Department of the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. The flu in Arizona usually strikes hardest in January and February, he said.
Since it takes about two weeks for the influenza vaccine to take effect, there is still time to protect yourself from the December holidays.
"During the holidays we spend time with family and friends. Do not be the person who brings flu at family gatherings. Get your flu shot, "said Debbie McCune Davis, Executive Director of The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI).
Katz said it was frustrating to hear that patients said they would not get flu vaccines because they got it once and got sick. The flu shot will not make you sick, he stressed.
Some patients believe that they got the flu after vaccination, but in reality they have caught a cold. Influenza is injected with dead (inactivated) viruses and is therefore not infectious.
"When a doctor says" influenza "and a patient says" influenza, "they often talk about two different things," Katz said. "When a doctor says 'influenza', he's talking about a specific virus that causes a certain, very bad respiratory infection, and when patients talk about the flu, they often talk about a cold or a bad cold."
Some people have a sore arm after receiving the flu shot and may feel tired or painful. This is your body building strength to protect you from the real flu, officials said with TAPI.
For people who do not want a needle, the FluMist nasal spray vaccine is an option, although the American Academy of Pediatrics would prefer that children get the shot this year, McCune Davis said.
FluMist is generally only suitable for people under the age of 49 who have no other immunodeficiency-related illnesses and can not be used by pregnant women, says Joan Ivaska, executive director of Infection Prevention for Banner Health.
According to the CDC, FluMist contains debilitated influenza viruses and can not cause influenza.
This does not mean that people who receive a flu vaccine are 100 percent protected from the flu. You are not. Katz, for example, got the flu vaccine last season and was sick with the flu at the beginning of April. However, he gets the flu shot every year, is always with flu patients and last season's illness was only the first or second time he had the flu, he said.
"I got the flu shot, got the flu and still think it's a good idea to get it," he said.
If you have insurance, your flu shot is probably free.
Flu vaccines and other vaccines need to be covered by your health insurance without the need for co-insurance or co-insurance, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Check with your insurance company if you need to go to a specific facility to get the vaccine. Some insurance plans only cover vaccines that are administered by your doctor or in certain locations.
McCune Davis of TAPI advises you at your pharmacy.
"Flu vaccines are easier than ever to find and are covered by most insurance companies or offered by some clinics at a reduced cost," she said.
Dr. Banner Urgent Care's Devin Minior talks about flu and symptoms, prevention and tips on what to do when you complete it.
Tom Tingle / azcentral.com
Arizona residents between the ages of 18 and 49 have historically low flu vaccines – only 26.6 percent of those in this age group were immunized against the flu last season. Both last season and this year, flu cases indicate that this is the age group most affected by the flu, said McCune Davis of TAPI.
"This group can easily share the flu with babies and grandparents who have the most severe flu complications," she said. "Getting an annual flu shot (flu) gives you the best protection against the flu in any flu season, and if you get a flu shot, protect yourself and prevent the flu from spreading to others – we call that the immunity of the community."
TAPI contains a list of Arizona-specific information where vaccines can be obtained: http://www.whyimmunize.org/where-to-go-for-your-shots/
Other sources for finding flu vaccines are the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at https://vaccinefinder.org/. And the CDC has a flu vaccine catch on his flu side.
Children between six months and 18 years of age may receive a free flu shot by the Maricopa County Department of Health. For more information, call 602-506-6767.
Otherwise, healthy children can die from the flu.
Children die of influenza every year, and last season there were a record 185 children in the US, including five in Arizona.
Most children who died of influenza last season were not vaccinated against the flu.
Flu emergency sign in children:
- Fast breathing
- Bluish or gray skin
- Do not wake up or interact
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Do not drink enough
The previous record of deaths among children with influenza during a regular flu season was 171 in the 2012-2013 season. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic (a non-regular flu season), between April 15, 2009 and October 2, 2010, the CDC reported 358 pediatric flu deaths.
Children who lose their lives in the flu are often otherwise healthy. Some of the parents who have lost their children to the flu have begun to work for the national charitable working group Families Fighting Flu, which works to inform the population that the flu is severe and a child can be killed.
A new study found that high dose flu vaccines could be more effective at preventing influenza deaths than the standard elderly dose.
Do you know when to see a doctor?
Most of us recover with calm and plenty of fluid from the flu at home. Just make sure you can hold fluids and that your breathing is normal.
"There are not many treatments for the flu once it's hit," Katz said. "The emergency department, with a few exceptions, does not make sense: as long as they can hold liquids in place, the emergency room is not much needed, and they are better served in the pharmacy that goes beyond the limits." Countermeasures such as decongestants, Tylenol, Motrin and so. "
Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu can affect the severity of the flu, but only in the first 48 to 72 hours. And Katz is not entirely sure that Tamiflu works.
"People come (to the emergency room) and want to feel better, but at that moment you just have to treat the symptoms," he said.
People over the age of 65 with underlying respiratory problems are at greater risk for complications and are more worrisome when it comes to the flu, he said.
In addition, healthy individuals without chronic conditions may experience complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections or sinusitis, which may require additional medical treatment, officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services said.
Flu emergency sign in adults:
- difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Influenza is spread by sneezing or coughing of an infected person. Experts also say you could get the flu by touching a surface where flu bacteria are located and then touching your mouth or nose.
Besides washing your hands, another way to prevent the flu is to cover your cough in your elbow, sleeve or with a handkerchief. If you get flu, stay at home, do not travel, and avoid contact with other people, except for medical treatment.
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