The flu vaccine itself cannot cause the flu, but you could be exposed to the flu within two weeks after vaccination -- before you have time to develop antibodies or immune resistance. Then, when you get sick, you might think the vaccine caused it.
1 AnswerChildren are both highly likely to get the flu and the most likely to transmit it to others. In fact, studies find that:
- Children are more likely than adults to get the flu and to have complications with the illness. The flu is most serious in children under age two.
- Families with school-age children experience more flu infections than those without because schools are ideal locations for viruses to attack and spread. On average, about one-third of family members of school-age children are infected with the flu each year.
- Children do not have as much natural immunity to influenza as adults because they have had less lifetime exposure. Also, close contact with other children in school, home and daycare settings increases a child's risk of getting and spreading the virus.
1 AnswerIn children who have the flu, warning signs necessitating emergency medical care include fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin color, not drinking enough fluids, severe or persistent vomiting, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worsening cough.
In adults who have the flu, warning signs necessitating emergency medical care include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worsening cough.
Antiviral medications can be used to treat people who are severely ill with flu. To be effective, antiviral medications should be taken within 12 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
1 AnswerIf you've been in contact with someone who has the flu and you begin to experience flu-like symptoms, chances are you have the virus. Only your healthcare professional can diagnose your symptoms accurately, so it's important to call for an appointment as soon as your symptoms develop to see if you're a candidate for prescription antiviral medication.
If you think you've been exposed to someone who has the flu and you begin to experience symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends you stay home and keep away from others as much as possible and avoid travel, work, school or public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication), except to get medical care or for other necessities.
If you become severely ill or you are in one of the groups at high risk for complications, call your healthcare professional or seek medical treatment. High-risk groups for complications are: children younger than five, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes or heart disease, people who are immunosuppressed due to HIV infection or because they are taking immunosuppressive medications and people over age 65.
1 AnswerIn terms of flu prevention and treatment, drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors (NAI) -- also referred to as antivirals -- attack influenza viruses at the cellular level and block the viruses' ability to escape from cells already infected, thus preventing the infections from spreading.
These antiviral medications can also prevent the flu by containing the virus in certain settings, such as family members passing the flu to one another in a household or coworkers spreading it in the workplace.
1 AnswerThere are three strains of the flu virus:
- Type A results in severe illness that easily spreads throughout a population, even globally, affecting a large number of people at the same time.
- Type B is a generally less severe strain that tends to affect fewer people.
- Type C causes very mild symptoms, so mild that many people don't even realize they're sick.
1 AnswerThe severity of flu is increased by exposure to cigarette smoke, which can injure airways and damage the cilia, the tiny hairlike structures that help keep airways clear. Toxic fumes, industrial smoke and other air pollutants are also risk factors.
1 AnswerBeginning with the 2009-2010 flu season, there was a new flu to contend with -- H1N1 flu (swine flu), which caused the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. Since this outbreak, seasonal flu vaccines have included coverage for the 2009 H1N1 flu. The seasonal trivalent flu vaccine usually contains one of each of the three kinds of influenza viruses that most commonly circulate among people today: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B viruses.
1 AnswerThe flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or, in severe cases, death. Even healthy people can become very sick from the flu. Death rates from the flu vary from season to season. Annual flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000 between 1976 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Outbreaks frequently start in school-age children, who carry the virus home and spread it to other groups.
Flu seasons are unpredictable. The 2011-2012 flu season affected a record-low number of people, while the 2012-2013 flu season was moderately severe. The flu season in the United States commonly peaks in January or February, but it can begin as early as October and continue into May.