They also should call a doctor to receive medicine if they have been exposed to the flu. You can help prevent influenza by getting immunized with an influenza vaccine each year as soon as it's available. Yearly immunization with the inactivated influenza vaccine flu shot prevents flu infection and its complications in most people. A nasal spray flu vaccine was available in previous years.
At times, the nasal spray did not work as well as the shot. The nasal spray vaccine is not available right now. Even if a flu vaccine does not prevent the flu, it can reduce the severity of flu symptoms and decrease the risk of complications.
Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
Studies have found that the flu shot results in fewer days missed from work and fewer visits to a doctor for respiratory infections, and it reduces the number of people who develop complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. In spite of these results, many people choose not to get a flu vaccine. Some do not get the vaccine because of myths they believe about the flu or the vaccines.
These include beliefs that the flu is a minor illness or that the vaccine causes the flu. The shot may cause side effects, such as soreness or fever, but they are usually minor and do not last long.
And a type of flu shot Fluzone Intradermal is available that uses a much smaller needle than a regular flu shot. It is injected into the skin instead of into a muscle. This usually causes less discomfort at the time of the shot. People 18 to 64 years old can get this shot. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg. Although antiviral medicines sometimes prevent the flu, they do not work in the same way as a yearly immunization and should not replace a flu shot.
Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
Almost every community has a program that offers flu vaccines at low cost during the flu season. You also can get a flu vaccine during a routine visit to a doctor or pharmacy. Many health clinics have set hours at the start of the flu season for people to get flu vaccines without needing to make an appointment. Two antiviral medicines oseltamivir and zanamivir can help prevent the flu caused by influenza A and B viruses.
These medicines may also reduce the length of the illness if they are given as soon as possible after the first symptoms. During a flu outbreak, these medicines may be given at the same time as a flu vaccine and for 2 weeks after while your body produces antibodies to protect you from the virus. But they may also be used for a person who has been sick with the flu for less than 48 hours. These medicines are taken by mouth pill or inhaled into the lungs inhaler.
The antiviral medicines amantadine and rimantadine have been used to prevent flu caused by influenza A.
But for the past few years the U. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC has advised doctors not to use these medicines to treat or prevent the flu. These medicines have not worked against most types of the flu virus. Amantadine and rimantadine do not protect against influenza B. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you. If you have influenza, you can expect the illness to go away on its own in about 7 to 10 days. In the meantime, you can take steps to feel better:.
Rather, antiviral medicines may help control outbreaks and prevent the spread of infection, especially in people at high risk for flu complications. The antiviral medicines oseltamivir and zanamivir are used to prevent and treat influenza A and B infections. They can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu symptoms. Amantadine and rimantadine have been used to help prevent and treat the flu caused by influenza A but not influenza B infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC has advised doctors not to use amantadine or rimantadine to treat or prevent the flu.
It is important to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you. Two antiviral medicines, oseltamivir and zanamivir, can treat and prevent influenza A and B infections. The effectiveness of antiviral medicines can vary from year to year. Some years a medicine may not work against the types of influenza virus causing symptoms. Your doctor can help you decide whether antiviral medicines are likely to help you. Most people do not need antiviral medicines.
They recover from influenza without having complications. But since most people who have the flu feel quite sick, some people may choose to take medicine even if they are at low risk for complications. Current as of: March 25, Author: Healthwise Staff. Medical Review: E.
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What are the symptoms? How is the flu diagnosed? How is it treated? Can the flu be prevented? The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of problems from the flu, including: Young children. Adults ages 50 and older. Adults and children who have long-term health problems or an impaired immune system.
Women who will be pregnant during the flu season. Frequently Asked Questions Learning about influenza flu : What is influenza flu?
What are the symptoms of the flu? What happens during the flu? What increases my risk for the flu? Should I get a flu vaccine? Should I take antiviral medicine for the flu? Being diagnosed: Who can diagnose the flu?