Influenza 2013 FAQ

The 2013 influenza season is well underway with most of the United States reporting a greater than average volume at most hospitals. Many of those seeking medical attention are doing so with Influenza like symptoms. I have compiled a list of FAQs that have recently come up:

  • What are the symptoms of influenza?
    • Influenza is primarily a respiratory illness characterized by fever with intense shaking chills often with severe muscle aches. It may be complicated with a dry cough and dehydration. In severe cases shortness of breath or confusion may be an alarming symptom.
  • I am feeling ill, what should I do?
    • If you or your loved one has greater than mild symptoms and suffer from any of the below listed medical conditions, do not delay in seeking medical attention either with your primary care physician or an urgent care center
      • Chronic conditions to be concerned about with influenza like symptoms
        • Diabetes
        • Chronic lung disease
        • Chronic heart disease
        • Chronic kidney disease
        • Have cancer
        • Are pregnant
    • Those who are healthy and with mild symptoms can be treated with rest, fluids and analgesics
    • Avoid unecessary contact with other if you are ill. Stay at home and get some rest.
  • If I got my shot why did I get sick?
    • Remember the primary purpose of getting vaccinated is to reduce duration of suffering, liklihood of admission especially to critical care and most importantly mortality (death) from influenza, so in short you can still get influenza but are more likely to get better faster and thereby return to work and reduce the spread of disease than if you were not vaccinated.
  • Is it too late to get vaccinated for influenza?
    • No it is not too late to get vaccinated
  • What if I already got the “flu” before I could get vaccinated?
    • Go ahead and get vaccinated as the vaccine provides immunization for three of the common circulating strains that you may encounter later in the season. Additionally there may be more than one wave of influenza in a season.
  • How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective?
    • Usually antibodies start to rise by two weeks and should peak by four weeks. The response may vary depending on age and other medical factors.

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