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Flu Overview

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Flu related image Photo: Getty Images

With flu season just around the corner we may be wondering if we’ll get it, if our partners or children will get it (and how much school will they miss) and whether or not it’s too late to get a flu shot.

If you’ve gotten a flu shot in the past, you may be wondering why you bothered, because it made you feel sick, or if the flu shot is just a marketing ploy implemented by pharmaceutical companies?

What is the flu?
The flu is an abbreviated term for “influenza” and is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs. Because it is extremely contagious and viral, it is difficult to treat, making it one of those illnesses that spreads quickly from person to person.

The flu can strike at any time but “flu season” is during late fall, winter and early spring. This infection is quite serious and can be fatal. In fact, more than 60 million Americans are infected every year.

Between 3, 000 and 49,000 deaths are reported from influenza-related complications each year and about 200,000 are hospitalized with flu-related illnesses. If left untreated, flu can develop into pneumonia, a very serious infection of the lungs.

The flu can strike anyone from babies to the elderly. Sudden onset of fever of about 101 degrees, sore throat, chills, headache, cough and muscle aches are all symptoms of flu and usually occur together.

Getting vaccinated against the flu is now thought to be the best protection. Health authorities make specific recommendations for children 6 months to 18, older adults (50 and older) and anyone with a chronic medical condition.

It also includes anyone who works in the health care industry, parents and anyone else who may be exposed more frequently than others. It is recommended in general that people get vaccinated in October or November, although the vaccine will still be effective if given in December.

Caution should be taken if there has been any history of allergic reaction.
Other ways to avoid getting flu are to wash your hands regularly and often, thoroughly and well.

Treating flu includes getting lots of rest and taking in a tremendous amount of fluid.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Here is a doc who says pregnant women should NEVER get the vaccine.
Besides hasn't improving vitamin D levels in winter been shown to work as well as the shot?

December 6, 2011 - 12:39am
(reply to Anonymous)

My OB/GYN had the "if you're not broken, don't fix you" mentality so I never got the flu shot during pregnancy. However, because pregnant women get REALLY sick when they're pregnant (even with the common cold) many doctors don't like to take their chances... Especially because pregnant women are so vulnerable for flu-related complications. 

I think that it's a personal choice. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot since it is not a live vaccine but an inactivated one. The pros for pregnant women to get the shot outweigh the cons-- so since I did get the flu during my pregnancy and went into labor less than a week later, I would get the shot if I could do it all over again. 

In health,


December 6, 2011 - 7:45am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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