During flu season, it seems like there is no shortage of flu prevention tips and advice on how to cure flu symptoms. Unfortunately, many old wives’ tales and home remedies for flu have no basis in science. The following looks at common flu myths.
Myth: I am generally healthy, so I don’t really have to worry about the flu.
Reality: During the 2017-2018 flu season, nearly 1 million people were hospitalized with the flu, and nearly 80,000 people died. While children and older adults had the highest rates of flu-related hospitalization and death, more than 10,000 working-age adults with no significant risk factors died from flu-related complications. Even if you are young and healthy, getting the flu vaccine will reduce the likelihood that you will pass along the virus to someone else who may not be able to fight it off as easily.
Myth: The flu shot can cause flu symptoms.
Reality: Flu vaccines are made from either dead or weakened form of the flu virus, so they cannot give you the flu. It is true that some people experience mild redness or soreness at the injection site or even mild headaches, muscle aches, or a low-grade fever. These symptoms are part of the body’s normal immune response as it starts to produce the antibodies that will aid in flu prevention. If you do develop true flu symptoms shortly after getting the vaccine, you were either already infected or became infected before making antibodies to the vaccine or became infected with a flu strain that was not included in your vaccine. If you do still catch the flu, the vaccine will likely reduce the severity of your symptoms and your risk for serious complications.
Myth: Spending too much time in the cold can cause you to catch a cold or the flu.
Reality: For centuries, mothers and grandmothers have implored children to dress warmly when going outdoors to avoid catching a cold or the flu. It is true that colds and flu are more common in colder months, but this is because we spend more time indoors in close quarters where the germs spread more quickly. Both colds and flu are caused by viruses and not cold weather.
Myth: Home remedies for flu are just as effective as the flu vaccine.
Reality: Home remedies for flu, such as saltwater rinses and gargles, hot beverages, and chicken soup may help ease some of your symptoms, but they will not prevent or cure the flu. There are only two ways to prevent or lower your risk of coming down with the flu:
• Get the annual flu vaccine. Even though it does not guarantee that you won’t get the flu, the flu vaccine is still your best protection against the flu. It is important to get the shot every year to ensure that you are protected against the current strains of the virus.
• Practice good hand hygiene and limit your exposure to people who are sick.
Myth: You should feed a cold and starve a fever.
Reality: Fever is a common flu symptom and is part of your body’s immune response to the infection. Unfortunately, it can also make you prone to dehydration, so getting plenty of fluids is important. Eating healthy foods will help boost your immune system as it fights against the virus.
Myth: Antibiotics can prevent or treat the flu.
Reality: Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. The flu is viral, so antibiotics would have no effect. In fact, taking antibiotics unnecessarily can cause side effects and even lead to antibiotic resistance. Depending on your situation and how long you have been sick, your health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medication to help your body fight the infection faster.
For more information about treating or preventing the flu, call or stop by your nearest FastMed location. With over 100 locations and extended hours, FastMed has made it convenient to get the quality healthcare you need this flu season. Save time by checking in online and completing your e-registration to gain PriorityAccess and skip the waiting room.
FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates nearly 200 centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that provide a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days a year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation and other occupational health services at all its centers, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than six million patients and is the only independent urgent care operator in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas to be awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.fastmed.com.