Flu Myths: Debunked

Flu season is upon us, and with it comes the myths of the flu. The following four are the most common flu-related myths.

The Flu Shot can Give You the Flu

Experts are constantly forced to debunk this myth. “The flu vaccine is made with dead viral particles, and since the virus is not living, it can’t infect you,” explains Holly Phillips, M.D., a New York City internist and WCBS News medical contributor. The nasal-spray version of the vaccine, called the FluMist, does contain a crippled version of live flu virus. However, it still can’t make you sick. This myth most likely stems from the fact that it does take your body two weeks to form the antibodies necessary to fight the vaccine. Serious reaction to the shot do occur, although very rarely. If  you do experience a reaction it will be within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. Although they can be life-threatening, there are effective treatments in place and available to you.

The Flu is Just a Bad Cold

Influenza may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, and cough. But in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu. During the 2017/18 flu season, flu activity has significantly increased throughout the majority of the country with the A(H3N2) viruses predominating so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The flu is not simply a bad cold. It is a separate virus and should be treated as such.

You are Only Contagious in the first 48 Hours of the Flu

Even if your symptoms begin to subside after only a couple of days, you very well may still be contagious. Everyone “sheds” the flu virus at a different rate. Children tend to be contagious longer than adults. The CDC notes that most healthy adults can infect others beginning a day before flu symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick. Of course you cannot prevent spreading germs you aren’t aware you have, but you can control staying home during and after having the flu.

The Stomach Flu is a Type of Influenza

People use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses involving nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.

With flu season ramping up, now is a better time than ever to sharpen up on your flu facts. Understanding the truth behind influenza will help you combat it more effectively, as well as educate others!

 

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