What you need to know about the flu

Flu season is just getting underway. So, what better time to discuss the myths, dangers, prevention tactics and tell-tale signs of the virus?

I sat down with my panel of experts: Roger Khetan, MD, and Rainer Khetan, MD, internal medicine specialists on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, about all these flu-related issues and more. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Get vaccinated!

A flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. It takes a couple of weeks to achieve immunity after receiving a vaccination, so the earlier you get vaccinated, the sooner you can protect yourself.

Many people don’t realize how serious the flu can become. Each year, 35,000 to 40,000 Americans die from flu or flu-related complications.

Vaccinations cannot give you the flu

The vaccine in flu shots is a dead virus. This time of year there are many upper-respiratory “bugs” which people can contract that are not the flu.

Sometimes these are mistaken for the flu, and people who have been vaccinated blame it on the vaccination. It’s worth repeating: a flu shot cannot give you the flu.

Quadrivalent, trivalent and high dose vaccinations

There are several types of flu vaccination. One of the most talked about new types is the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of the flu, whereas the trivalent protects against three strains.

Most people will be adequately protected against the flu by getting the standard trivalent, though the quadrivalent may be right for some at high risk.

There is a debate in the medical community about high dose vaccinations, which are supposed to quickly boost immunity. Some are calling into question whether it is as much more as effective as it claims to be.

Again, the most important thing is to get vaccinated regardless of which vaccine you choose.

Cold or flu?

While some flu symptoms are similar to those of cold or other viruses common this time of year, there are certain symptoms that usually point more exclusively to the flu:

  • High fever
  • Harsh coughing
  • Severe aches
  • Chills

Help prevent the spread of flu and disease

Even if you’re vaccinated against the flu, you can spread the virus, as well as other illnesses. Be a good neighbor and keep the following tips in mind during flu season and throughout the year.

  • If you have to cough or sneeze, do it into the crook of your elbow, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer often.
  • Wear a mask if you’re coughing a lot.
  • Stay home from work if you’re sick.

Take action and precaution to protect you, your family and those around you from the flu this year by following these quick tips. Learn more from our Google+ Hangout below.

About the author

David Winter, MD
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David Winter, MD, is an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Signature Medicine – Tom Landry.

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What you need to know about the flu