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Dr. Patrick Yassini, a primary care physician affiliated with Sharp, answers commonly asked questions about the flu.
What is influenza?
Influenza is a virus that typically affects the nose, throat and lungs. It’s an illness usually lasting between three and seven days.
What are common symptoms of the flu?
The symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, fever, headaches, dry cough and a sore throat.
How can I prevent the flu?
The single best way to prevent flu is to get the flu vaccine each year. You can get it either in the form of a shot or through a nasal spray. The shot is approved for anyone older than 6 months and the nasal flue vaccine is not approved for people unless you’re healthy, between the ages of 5 and 49 and you’re not pregnant.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The vaccine prevents influenza infection about 78 to 90 percent of the time in healthy persons younger than age 65. For older people living in chronic care facilities such as nursing homes and those persons with long-term medical conditions, the flu shot is about 30 to 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations from pneumonia and influenza.
Who is at risk for flu complications?
Everyone at high risk of complications from the flu, for example young children, pregnant women or anyone over the age of 50, should get a shot every year. In addition, anyone with a compromised immune system or any chronic medical conditions like diabetes should get immunized.
Are there any problems with the flu shot that I need to be aware of
Serious problems from the flu shot are very, very rare. The strains of flu that we’re exposed to and are active every year change, and so therefore vaccines generated every year specifically for the strains that are active.
How do I find out where to go to get my shot?
Call your health care provider or visit a vaccination location. Various Sharp medical group clinics can be found by visiting Seasonal and H1N1 (Swine) Flu. You can also dial 211 or visit www.sdiz.org to find a flu shot location.
Besides getting vaccinated, what other things can I do to prevent getting sick?
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, stay at home from work, school or running errands if possible; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; wash your hands frequently; and avoid touching your nose and mouth because typically the flu spreads this way. Get plenty of sleep, of course, and be physically active, manage your stress and drink plenty of fluids. The only way to prevent it is to get immunized. I urge everyone to get immunized as soon as possible.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about flu care health, visit Influenza in Adult Health or read the Infectious Diseases News archive.
While we hope you find the above website helpful, please remember that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information found on this website nor does this site endorse the information found on www.sharp.com.