Each year around September, we start gearing up for flu season. The flu, short for influenza, is a respiratory virus that circulates worldwide and makes people extremely ill. The flu kills more people than AIDS annually and about as many as as breast cancer. It is an infection that we need to pay great attention to.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The symptoms of influenza are fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. Some people don't have symptoms at all. Having these symptoms does not mean you have the flu. The flu can be very difficult to diagnose, especially if you aren't tested in the first few days of the illness. The people who are most at risk are the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and children. The flu, although a virus, can lead to other serious conditions such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of your medical condition.
How does one get the flu
The flu is spread by tiny droplets that are emitted into the air when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, sings or even talks. An individual near an infected person could inhale the droplets or become infected by touching something (a table, doorknob, phone) and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes with their hands. It is possible to have the flu without showing any symptoms and, therefore, spread it unknowingly to others. If you have the flu, you could be contagious anywhere from one day before you experience symptoms to five days after getting sick.
How do I protect myself from getting the flu?
There are a few ways you can protect yourself from getting the flu.
Hebrew SeniorLife has created four public service announcements (PSA), each dispelling a different "myth" about getting vaccinated. These PSAs were filmed with HSL staff as the stars. Please click on the links below to view these PSAs. (NOTE: It may take several minutes to download these videos.)
Watch "I Never Get the Flu" on YouTube or Download PSA Video
Watch "The Flu is Insignificant" on YouTube or Download PSA Video
Watch "Scared of Needles" on YouTube or Download PSA Video
Watch "Can't Get the Flu from the Flu Vaccine" on YouTube or Download PSA Video
What is the best treatment for the flu?
If you are sick, avoid public places like work, school, church, and other social gatherings.
The flu is a virus and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics. The best treatment is to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid using alcohol or tobacco. You may take medication to alleviate the symptoms. A doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, which has to be given within the first two days of illness. So, if you have flu-like symptoms, get to your doctor early.
For more information on the flu, visit: