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Flu Infographic Be Flu Less

The CDC estimates that influenza causes between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year. Of these, roughly 140,000 to 710,000 cases require hospitalization, and as many as 56,000 result in death.

So how do you make sure you don’t wind up an unlucky statistic? Start by brushing up on your flu facts.

We’ve made it easy with FastMed’s detailed infographic that explains everything you need to know. In it, you’ll discover important information to help you minimize your downtime, avoid infecting others, and hopefully, even prevent the flu altogether. With our help, you could stay healthy and flu-free all season long.

The ABCs of the Flu

Let’s start with a few basics. The flu typically refers to four different types of influenza virus. Only three of these affect humans.

Human influenza A and B viruses are the ones responsible for those seasonal outbreaks in the U.S. The A virus has also been linked to worldwide infections of the bird flu and swine flu. Type C viral infections tend to be milder and less likely to cause epidemics. Thankfully, influenza D primarily affects cattle, not people.

“Contagious” Comes with a Catch

One of the reasons the flu virus tends to spread so quickly is because it’s often passed to others before the person carrying the virus exhibits any symptoms. Infected individuals can be contagious for up to one day before symptoms develop, and up to seven days afterward. In fact, young children and those with weakened immune systems can infect others over an even longer period of time.

For these reasons, you need to protect yourself all season long by following a few basic prevention tips. These include frequent hand washing, decontaminating frequently touched surfaces such as smartphones and keyboards, keeping hands away from your face and nose, sneezing into a tissue or your elbow to avoid spreading germs, and never sharing food, drinks, or toothbrushes with others. Most important, make sure you get vaccinated.

If you do catch the flu, do your best to keep it to yourself. The CDC recommends you stay home for a minimum of 24 hours after a fever subsides. This means without help from a fever-reducing medicine.

The Symptoms Are Simply All Too Common

One of the trickiest problems with treating the flu is that the symptoms can be nearly impossible to pin down. That fever, sore throat, cough, stuffiness, and runny nose can easily mimic a number of other illnesses, including the common cold.

In addition, many symptoms, such as chills, body aches, and fatigue, vary from person to person. Some flu victims experience fever, diarrhea, and vomiting, while others may not. This makes the flu difficult to diagnose without a specific test administered within the first few days of infection.

Your Best Medicine?

In some cases, a healthcare provider may prescribe an antiviral medication to lessen the symptoms and duration of the flu. Although these drugs can be modestly helpful in reducing symptoms, they tend to be at their most effective when taken by those who are not yet symptomatic. For this reason, they’re typically reserved as a preventive measure for high-risk patients, or for those who’ve been exposed, but haven’t yet developed symptoms.

No One Is Immune

The flu virus is particularly clever at tricking the body’s immune system. Every time your body develops proper protection, the virus morphs into a new virus that your immune system no longer recognizes. These genetic changes in the virus are why people continue to get the flu, year after year.

They’re also why the flu vaccine needs to be reviewed and updated annually. Whether the latest flu vaccine is effective against this year’s virus ultimately comes down to science vs. nature. Thankfully, even a marginally effective vaccine is better than no vaccine at all.

Flu Shot, or Not?

Although flu shots tend to be only 60% effective at preventing the flu, the good news is that even an ineffective flu shot nets important advantages. Those vaccinated tend to get a milder form of the flu with less-severe symptoms than those who are unvaccinated. They’re also less likely to suffer from complications associated with the virus.

And, no, you can’t catch the flu from the flu shot itself. Flu vaccines contain only inactivated or weakened flu viruses, incapable of infection. You may, however, notice some temporary redness, tenderness, or soreness at the site of the shot. Some people also experience low-grade fever, headaches, or muscle aches.

Your Best Shot

Generally speaking, everyone should get a flu shot each season. The $25 to $80 out-of-pocket cost makes this an inexpensive prevention method that can save countless sick days and associated medical costs.

So which type of flu shot is right for you? That depends upon your age and certain other factors. Trivalent, a commonly used vaccine, has been approved for those aged 18 to 64. It’s available at all FastMed Urgent Care locations for just $20 per shot, with no insurance required.

Ask your local FastMed provider whether Trivalent is the smart choice to keep you flu-free this season. But don’t delay. All flu shots take approximately two weeks to provide full protection. Until those antibodies kick in, you’re still at risk for catching the flu.

Protect yourself before flu season begins by visiting your nearby FastMed Urgent Care location today. For your convenience, you can either walk in, or check in first online to reduce wait times.

Flu Infographic

 

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About FastMed

FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates more than 100 locations across Arizona, North Carolina and Texas, providing a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days per year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation services at all of its clinics, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than 5.8 million patients since the opening of its first clinic in 2005, and is the largest urgent care operator to be awarded the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation in healthcare quality and safety in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.FastMed.com.

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