Flu Widespread Across U.S. - Vaccination Still Best Protection
(January 13, 2015)
Antivirals for the Flu
The CDC reports that antiviral medication can be effective in reducing the severity of flu and how long you suffer from it, but is currently being under-prescribed. They have issued these recommendations for healthcare professionals.
With more people getting sick with the flu this year, the American Lung Association wants you to know that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu and help stop spread of the virus to others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has reached epidemic proportions affecting most of the U.S. The most common virus seen so far this season is associated with more severe disease, and is a poor match to the current vaccine.
"Although the vaccine hasn't worked as well as hoped, vaccination is still the best protection against influenza as it protects against the other circulating strains which typically cause a second wave of flu activity later in the season," said Albert Rizzo, M.D. Senior Medical Advisor of the American Lung Association. "The vaccine still has the potential to lessen the severity of illness from any type of influenza and is especially important for people at higher risk of severe flu symptoms."
If you do get sick, it is important for you to call your doctor as soon as possible to receive prompt treatment with antivirals. Antivirals can be effective in reducing the severity of flu and the duration of the disease.
Those at greater risk of developing influenza-related complications, such as older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions including asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease should be prepared.
Here are three ways you can fight the flu:
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1. Get vaccinated now (if you haven't already)
Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself and those around you from the flu. While this year's vaccine is not as protective against one of the common strains of flu circulating this season, it can still decrease the severity of illness caused by the virus. It can also protect against other circulating strains of the virus, which is why the CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated.
2. Get prompt medical attention if you develop flu symptoms
Flu symptoms often appear suddenly. People of higher risk of complications, such as those with chronic lung disease, should seek prompt medical attention. Treatment may include antiviral medicine which can reduce flu symptoms if started within a day or two of getting sick. Symptoms of influenza can include:
- High fever
- Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
- Cough (usually dry)
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
3. Help stop spread of the flu
Help prevent other people from catching your flu. Stay home from work, school and public places when you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Most people recover from the flu within one or two weeks, but others, especially older adults, may feel weak for a long time even after other symptoms go away.
NOTE: The American Lung Association recommends you always consult your doctor or healthcare provider regarding vaccinations or medications at first signs of illness.