Belmont Physicians - Flu Vaccine, Healthy Habits Keep People Healthy Throughout Cold and Flu Season

Primary Care Physicians Remind Patients that Prevention is Key

DAYTON, Ohio (October 24, 2011) – Cold and flu season is right around the corner. Area physicians want to remind community members of the steps they should take to help prevent a case of the flu or common cold: early flu vaccination this October and the adoption of preventive actions such as frequent hand washing and using antibacterial lotions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by viruses that are spread through respiratory droplets. While the illnesses carry some similar symptoms such as body aches, tiredness and chest discomfort, they are distinguished by the severity of these symptoms as well as the presence of others. Symptoms such as fever, chills and headaches are common with the flu, while sneezing, a stuffy nose and a sore throat are more common with a cold. Cold symptoms usually develop more slowly over a few days, while symptoms of the flu appear suddenly and without warning.

“There are simple steps people can take to prevent contracting a cold or the flu,” said Dr. Terez Metry of Belmont Physicians. “Good hand washing is a must—disinfecting surfaces, covering sneezes and coughs and taking over-the-counter supplements like vitamin C and zinc can also help keep people healthy throughout cold and flu season.”

The flu vaccine also plays a large role in preventing the spread of flu viruses. The CDC recommends that  individuals six months and older get the flu vaccine each year, especially those who are at increased risk for developing complications, including the elderly, young children and people who are diabetic. Complications that can result from the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure and asthma.

It usually takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to produce antibodies that protect against the flu virus, and since flu season typically lasts from November through March, it is recommended that individuals get vaccinated in October. Individuals should review their current medications with their doctor before getting a flu shot. There are also minor side effects that could occur as a result of the flu vaccine, including soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, a low-grade fever or body aches. If these symptoms persist, individuals should contact their primary care physician.

“It’s important that people get vaccinated early enough to prevent getting the disease altogether,” said Dr. Metry. “If people wait until flu season is already underway, they might find that it’s too late and they get the virus anyway.”

Dr. Metry added that getting a flu shot a bit earlier than recommended is fine because the vaccine builds immunity for an entire year.

If an individual does suffer from a cold or the flu, there are symptomatic treatments that a person can use while the body fights the virus, including over-the-counter medications to help with fever and body aches, and sinus medication and rinses to help with sinus pressure. To prevent the risk of allergic reactions or other potential side effects from occurring, individuals should consult their primary care physician before taking over-the-counter medications. Rest and hydration are also crucial to recovering from a cold or the flu. If caught early enough, there are antiviral medications, available with a prescription, for patients who test positive for the flu. Finally, if a person’s condition continues to worsen rather than improve, that individual should schedule an appointment with his or her primary care physician for additional treatment options.

“There are many misconceptions when it comes to methods for treating a cold or the flu, but the key is to rest, hydrate and let the body take care of itself,” said Dr. Metry. “Even though everyone catches a cold or gets the flu at some point in their lives, taking all preventive steps possible will help limit those occurrences and keep people healthy.”

Individuals can visit their Premier HealthNet physician to get this year’s flu vaccine. To find a Premier HealthNet physician near you,  visit us online.

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