5 Simple Tips for Boosting Your Immune SystemJanuary 17, 2023
It’s flu season, so it’s time to protect yourself! The sudden onset of high fever, headache, and severe body aches characterizes the flu. Other symptoms include coughs, sore throat, runny nose, and discomfort in the chest or throat, which can be felt down to the stomach. Though antibiotics cannot combat the influenza virus head-to-head because they are not targeted against specific viruses in influenza-like, they are with bacterial infections. Antibiotics are often used to treat other illnesses that may arise from the body’s weakened immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that flu season usually begins in October and peaks between December and March. The CDC also reports that Americans can expect to be sick with the flu at least once during their lifetime. This year, influenza A (H1N1) is spreading more rapidly than influenza types A or B, although all different strains of influenza are circulating in the United States.
Since there is no cure for the flu, prevention is key. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot to protect yourself from influenza and its related complications. Also, take these simple steps to help prevent the flu:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or more. Many viruses are spread via saliva, so wiping your hands with soap and water helps reduce virus spread. It also keeps your hands from becoming infected when touching other people.
Stay home if you’re sick because this is when viruses are most contagious. Ask somebody else to do your household chores if you’re ill and can’t do them yourself.
Stay sick-free this winter by washing your hands frequently, covering your cough and sneezing with a tissue, and avoiding other people with flu-like symptoms.
What is in the Flu Shot?
Flu vaccines are composed of dead or weakened viruses produced in eggs and grown for several weeks. When the viruses reach about one-tenth their natural size, they are injected into healthy people to stimulate an immune response. This small amount of virus will not cause illness but will help boost your body’s natural immunity against influenza.
After the vaccine is injected, your body produces antibodies against the virus. These will help prevent future infections by preventing your body from becoming infected with the virus again. It takes two weeks after the shot to fully develop antibodies against the flu, but it can take up to several months for them to be fully produced. All significant side effects will occur after shots are taken and before they become effective immune system defenses.
In some people, however, an allergic reaction could occur between 24 hours to three weeks after vaccination. This type of reaction is caused by proteins in the vaccine and causes redness or swelling at the injection site, as well as some mild fever or short-term vomiting. Some people may have a severe reaction that can cause breathing problems, low blood pressure or shock. These rare reactions occur after a few thousand people receive the vaccine.
What are the symptoms?
The flu symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, coughing, sore throat and congestion; these usually occur within three to four days of infection. Influenza infections commonly occur in children younger than 5 years old and older adults, but although both can be very severe in some instances, most people feel mild or no symptoms at all. In children under 5 years old who develop flu, about 10 percent can become very seriously ill or die from severe illness.
Influenza viruses can be passed on by coughing and sneezing, but infected children often get a runny nose or a sore throat, even though they may be contagious. Washing your hands and not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can help reduce the spread of influenza.
The flu is commonly seen as an infection with a virus that does not have a high mortality rate. The viruses have changed over time and evolved to be able to infect humans better. The viruses that usually cause symptoms of the “flu” are now more easily passed on by people to others rather than being passed on by wild birds such as ducks, geese, or swans.
According to the CDC, the flu can be treated with antibiotics, but the effectiveness of these drugs decreases over time and becomes less effective at preventing serious illness. Antibiotics can help treat secondary bacterial pneumonia that develops after a person is infected with flu viruses, but only for about 4 days. Other options for treating influenza include antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza. The FDA has not approved vaccines to treat influenza infection; however, vaccines can lessen the severity of symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control also states, “Expect a healthy person to get one or more mild infections during the flu season. These infections may include a sore throat and cough, but not everyone will have symptoms. Children, young adults, and others at greater risk of serious illness should see a doctor if they develop the flu.” (CDC)
Contact us at Diversity Healthcare if you have any medical questions.