– From Grand Beauty Spa Medical Director Dr. Anne Hermann
The Two Flus this year
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a highly contagious viral illness. The flu is different than the common cold. This year there are two strains of flu virus. The first is the season flu or ‘regular flu’ and the second is the H1N1 influenza which was first seen in March 2009 in Mexico. Symptoms of infection with the H1N1 flu virus are similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea are common in H1N1, which differs from seasonal influenza.
Pneumonia is the most common serious complication of the flu. In cases of seasonal flu, complications are most likely to occur in people over the age of 65 and those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes or conditions affecting the heart or lungs. The H1N1 has a higher rate of complications in children, healthy adults and pregnant women than the seasonal flu.
You are considered contagious with either flu beginning one day before symptoms appear until at least 24 hours after your fever has resolved.
PREVENTING FLU —
One of the most effective ways to prevent both seasonal and H1N1 flu is the influenza vaccine. To be protected against both flu types, you will need vaccinations with both flu vaccines. Frequent handwashing with soap and water can also help limit the spread of influenza. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when soap and water are not available. Cover the mouth and nose should while coughing or sneezing, and dispose of tissues immediately.
Swine H1N1 flu prevention — In addition to the precautions mentioned above.
People who are infected with swine flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever has resolved.
If face-to-face contact is necessary, the infected person should wear a face mask.
There are numerous options for face masks. N95 respirators are recommended for anyone caring for an infected person.
If possible, the infected person should stay in a room separate from common areas of the house, keep the door closed, and use a separate bathroom while ill. The bathroom should be cleaned daily with a disinfectant.
Pregnant women should avoid caring for adults or children infected with the swine H1N1 flu.
Seek help if you develop shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, dizziness when standing or dehydration, confusion, severe vomiting or if you are unable to keep fluids down
Treat symptoms — Treating the symptoms of influenza can help you to feel better, but will not shorten the duration of the flu.
Rest until the flu is fully resolved, especially if the illness has been severe.
Fluids — Drink enough fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® and other brands) to relieve fever, headache, and muscle aches. Aspirin, and medicines that include aspirin (eg, bismuth subsalicylate; PeptoBismol), should be avoided, particularly in children under 18, because it can lead to a serious disease called Reye syndrome.
Antiviral drugs—- Antiviral drugs may be recommended to treat or prevent influenza. Not every person with influenza requires treatment with an antiviral
Antibiotics — Antibiotics are NOT useful for treating viral illnesses such as influenza. Antibiotics should only used if there is a bacterial complication of the flu such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infection, or sinusitis. Antibiotics can cause side effects and lead to development of antibiotic resistance.
Complementary and alternative treatments — There are a wide variety of herbal, homeopathic, and other complementary and alternative treatments that are marketed for influenza. One homeopathic remedy, oscillococcinum, appears to have a modest benefit in reducing the duration of influenza symptoms.
Anne Hermann, MD Fellow, American Board of Internal Medicine
As a service to our clients Dr. Hermann will be providing vaccinations for the H1N1 flu when she is given vaccine from the department of health.
Questions and Answers about Flu Vaccines
Who should get vaccinated for H1N1?
1. Pregnant women
2. Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age (eg, parents, siblings, and daycare providers)
3. Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
4. Individuals from 6 months through 24 years of age
5. Individuals from 25 through 64 years of age with health conditions associated with increased risk of influenza complications.
Do I need one or two doses of H1N1 vaccine?
Children aged six months to nine years should receive two doses of the vaccine, separated by approximately four weeks; individuals ≥10 years of age should receive one dose
Who should get seasonal flu vaccine?
1. Persons 50 years of age or older
2. residents of nursing homes
3. Adults with chronic diseases, including:
4. Pulmonary disease, including asthma
5. Cardiovascular disease, except isolated hypertension
6. Active malignancy
7. Chronic renal insufficient
8. Chronic liver disease
9. Diabetes mellitus
10. Immunosuppression, including HIV infection
11. inflammatory disorders treated with immunosuppressants
12. Adults who have any neurologic condition that can compromise handling of respiratory secretions
13. Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season.
14. Individuals who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting influenza to others.
15. Children aged 6 months to 18 years.
What are the side effects of the flu shot?
You may experience the following: Soreness or swelling in the area where the shot is given, fever, aches. Some effects may last 1-2 days. Notify your prescriber immediately if these effects continue or are severe, or for a high fever, seizures, or allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, weakness, dizziness, fast heart beat). Prior to vaccination, notify prescriber if you are allergic to eggs
Can I get the flu from getting the shot?
No, but some people may feel tired for a day or two after. There are very rare cases of long term side effects, so ask your doctor about these.