Flu Facts and Fiction
November 13, 2019 | Published by Brandon Hoenisch
Every year from fall to winter myths about influenza spread quicker than the virus itself. Today we’re going to look at the truth behind the flu, and how you can help keep yourself protected.
Truth- You cannot get the flu from a flu shot
While flu shots are made with dead viruses or proteins from the flu virus, it’s not possible to catch the illness from a flu shot. Even though you may experience aches or have a low fever after getting the shot, you would feel a lot worse if you caught influenza.
Myth – You can’t spread the flu before you know you’re sick
Unfortunately, it is possible to pass the flu to someone for up to a week before you start feeling its effects. Some people, such as those with compromised immune systems and young children, can be contagious for even longer.
Truth- The flu can be deadly
It’s possible for the flu to lead to a stay in the hospital. Influenza can lead to pneumonia or even respiratory failure, and is most dangerous for children, those with compromised immune systems, or adults age 54 and older. In fact, about 90% of people who die from the flu are older adults.
Myth – You have to be near someone to catch the flu
Contagious people can spread the flu to anyone within a six-foot range, which means busy busses, trains, or elevators can be a real danger zone. Unfortunately, you can also catch the flu by touching a door handle or a phone that is contaminated with the virus, which brings us to our next point.
Truth- Washing your hands helps prevent the flu
Since the flu is not bacterial, antibacterial soap or gel will not protect you any more than standard soap and water. To help avoid catching the flu and other contagious illnesses, be sure to wash your hands well and often. This way you’ll get rid of the germs and viruses that stick to the oil on your hands.
Truth- The influenza virus changes all the time
The flu virus is always changing and can be different form year to year. It’s even possible for the virus to change in the middle of cold season.
Myth – Antibiotics help with the flu
Since antibiotics only help with infections cased by bacteria, it’s not possible for them to aid in preventing the flu. There are drugs, such as zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) that were designed to fight viruses, which can make you feel better sooner. Since these drugs work best if you take them within 2 days of getting sick, be sure to speak with your physician as soon as possible if you begin feeling under the weather.
Myth – A stomach flu is a kind of seasonal flu
While common stomach bugs can be caused by a virus, the seasonal flu we know as influenza typically displays symptoms in the throat, nose and lungs, not the stomach and digestive system.
Truth- It’s better to get a flu shot late rather than skipping it
Since it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to begin working, it’s a good idea to receive it as soon as possible. Even if you put it off into November, the shot can still protect you from getting sick. Flu season is usually at its worst from December to February but can go on long past that.
- Khatri M, Quiz: Do You Fall for Old Flu Myths? WebMD https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/rm-quiz-flu-myths