Frisco- November marks the beginning of one of the most dreaded times of year -- flu season. But you may be able to avoid getting bit by the flu bug by getting an annual flu shot.
“The flu, short for influenza, is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract and causes a more severe illness than the common cold,” explains Kristoffer Pepperell physician at Centennial Medical Center. “Common signs of the flu include a fever, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headaches and body aches, and fatigue.”
Most people who get the flu recover completely in one to two weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia. Every year there are an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations nationwide due to influenza. That's why we try to combat the influenza early with a vaccination.
“Since influenza viruses continually change over time, people are susceptible to the virus infection throughout their lives,” says Dr. Pepperell. “That means that just because you had a shot last year doesn't mean you'll be protected this year. Each year the vaccine is updated to include the most current influenza virus strains.”
A lot of folks bypass the flu shot, believing that the vaccine will actually give them the flu. That's not true. The fact is that the vaccine causes no side effects in most people.
A small number of people may get mild side effects, including a low-grade fever for about day or a headache. The most serious side effect is an allergic reaction in people who have a severe allergy to eggs, since the viruses used in the vaccine are grown in hen's eggs. For that reason, people who have an allergy to eggs should not get a flu shot.
The bottom line is that, for many people, a flu shot is the best defense against this often-debilitating illness stresses Dr. Pepperell_.
Vaccination with TIV is recommended for the following persons who are at increased risk for severe complications from influenza, or at higher risk for influenza-associated clinic, emergency department, or hospital visits:
• All children aged 6 months—4 years
• All persons aged >50 years;
• Children and adolescents (aged 6 months--18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who, therefore, might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
• Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
• Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
• Adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV);
• Adults and children who have any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration; and
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.
The vaccine is also highly recommended for people who are in close or frequent contact with anyone in these high-risk groups, including health care personnel and volunteers who work with high-risk patients and people who live in a household with a high-risk person.
Keep in mind that because the viruses change often, not everyone will be completely covered by the vaccine. But people who do get the flu after getting the vaccine may have a milder case than those who do not get vaccinated.
What can you do if you decide to skip a flu shot this year? Dr. Pepperell explains you may protect yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep, and watching carefully for any flu symptoms. If the flu develops – and if it doesn’t get better in a couple of days – call your physician. If you’re in a high-risk group and you get the flu, don’t wait. Call your physician or visit the Centennial Medical Center’s emergency room.
You want to be spending your time with friends and family -- not the doctor. The flu is a serious illness. Don't let it keep you down this season.
ABOUT CENTENNIAL MEDICAL CENTER
Centennial Medical Center, part of Tenet Texas, is a 118-bed acute care facility located at 12505 Lebanon Road in Frisco, Texas. Centennial Medical Center began serving the community in June 2004. The hospital provides a wide spectrum of medical services, including a 21-bed emergency department, a 12-bed Intensive Care Unit, women's services, 12-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, nursery, diagnostic imaging department, four operating rooms, physical therapy and telemetry. Centennial Medical Center also provides a number of specialty services such as cardiology, open heart and vascular surgery, neurosurgery and neurology, orthopedics, gastrointestinal disease, oncology, infectious disease, general surgery, ear nose and throat, pulmonary medicine, urology, obstetrics, pediatrics, women's services, and neonatal and perinatal services. Centennial Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the nation's oldest and largest hospital accreditation agency. To learn more about Centennial Medical Center, visit www.centennialmedcenter.com.