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It’s a fact that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent yourself and your family from the flu. The flu is a much discussed topic this time of the year because it is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness. For those with a weakened immune system, the flu can lead to death.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, more common in children
  • Fever/chills (Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.)

A person may be able to pass on the flu to others before they know they are sick, as well as while they are sick. Symptoms can start one to four days after the virus enters the body. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Those with a weakened immune symptoms and children might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Some individuals infected with the flu virus may have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease) have a greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. These can include pneumonia, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or congestive heart failure.

During a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The flu virus is mainly spread by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets then land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. In some cases, a person can get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine each season. Flu is unpredictable, the virus is constantly changing and immunization from vaccination declines over time.

You can call UofL Health – Primary Care Hotline Monday-Friday at 502-588-4343 to schedule an appointment for your flu vaccinations or visit your nearest UofL Health – Urgent Care Plus location.

References:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Diana Schweikhart, R.N., COHN-S

Diana Schweikhart is the director of occupational medicine, safety and health for UofL Physicians. Schweikhart worked at UofL Hospital for more than 26 years and has more than 22 years of experience in employee/occupational health. Schweikhart also worked as the interim manager for employee health over the KentuckyOne West Market. She developed and implemented many programs in regards to employee immunizations, education and safety. She graduated from UofL School of Nursing in 1989 and received certification as a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist in 1995.

All posts by Diana Schweikhart, R.N., COHN-S
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