One of the most effective steps in preventing influenza is by getting immunized each year with a flu vaccine.
Healthy individuals from 2 to 49 years of age can opt for nasal spray such as FluMist (which is the nasal equivalent of the vaccine) rather than getting a flu shot. Individuals who have chronic (long-term) conditions like lung or heart problems should not be given this nasal spray vaccine since added to it are certain live viruses that can exacerbate these people’s already frail condition. For these individuals and also for people with problematic immune systems, a flu shot is a highly preferred option compared to the nasal spray vaccine particularly when outbreak prevention is required. The risk of infecting these people with an activated flu virus is then avoided. When nasal spray vaccine is inadvertently given to this high-risk group, proximal contact with them should be avoided for a week.
Nasal spray vaccine is not to be given to people:
- Less than 20 years of age who are using aspirin or products having aspirin ingredients
- Who are pregnant
- Who suffer from conditions like cerebral palsy or seizure disorder that may entail swallowing or breathing problems
- Using medications or have a disease that compromises their immune system
- Having kidney disease or diabetes
- Having lung disease that includes asthma
- With heart disease
Sometime a flu shot may not successfully prevent flu but it can help lessen the severity of the symptoms and greatly reduce the likelihood for complications. Statistics reveal that people given flu shots missed fewer absences from work and had lesser doctor visits regarding respiratory infections. They also experienced lesser flu complications like pneumonia. The flu vaccine also allegedly helps safeguard the babies of pregnant women from the flu virus.
A flu vaccine also is known to cause serious side effects in some people and others said that it really is not effective in preventing flu.
You may need to consult with your physician prior to getting a flu shot if:
- Your child had suffered a seizure before
- You suffer from a condition known as Guillain-Barre’ syndrome
- You had an allergic reaction from a previous shot of flu vaccine or are allergic to eggs
Some other recommendations to lessen your likelihood of flu infection or developing complications can include lifestyle and diet changes like:
- Availing of probiotics – Using probiotics can lessen the need for antibiotics in children and to help prevent the symptoms of the flu
- Smoking cessation – Your lungs, sinuses and nose can be easily irritated by cigarette smoke and make your immune system weak making you highly vulnerable to flu complications
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet
- Avoiding your hands from touching your mouth, eyes and nose – Your hands are vectors for the flu virus and other kinds of pathogens. Therefore you not only need to avoid them touching those areas but you also need to wash them frequently particularly during winter season where flu infection is at its most rampant
Flu Prevention with Antiviral Medications
Oseltamivir and zanamivir are two antiviral drugs that are used to help prevent infection caused by the influenza A and B viruses. They effectively shorten the duration of your illness provided they are taken less than 2 days after the onset of symptoms. These two drugs can also be given along with the flu shot for two weeks when there is a flu outbreak to hold off the viruses while your body develops antibodies to battle them. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are either used orally (by pill) or inhaled (inhaler).
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