Winter Flu Protection PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Niru Prasad   

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST WINTER FLUES

by

                      

                      

 NIRU PRASAD, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.E.P.

                      

                      

 SENIOR STAFF

 DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE

 HENRY FORD HOSPITAL

 WEST BLOOMFIELD CENTER

                      

                      

 DEPARTMENT OF AMBULATORY PEDIATRICS

 ST. JOSEPH MERCY HOSPITAL

 PONTIAC, MICHIGAN

Influenza is a viral respiratory tract illness that runs

 its own course and affects millions of people of different 

ages during peak seasons.  Influenza is caused by two 

viruses A and B and infection is transmitted by sneezing 

and coughing.  The symptoms of influenza are of sudden

onset, fever, cough, sneezing and generalized muscle

aches.



Persons at high risk for influenza related complications

are:


1.   Persons over 65 years of age.


2.   Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care

     facilities.


3.   Adults and children with chronic disorders of

     pulmonary and cardiovascular system including

     children with asthma.


4.   Adults and children with chronic metabolic diseases

     like diabetes, cancer, renal dysfunctions and

     immunosuppressive illnesses.


Persons that can transmit influenza to high risk patients

are:


1.   Persons clinically infected with influenza virus and

     live with highly susceptible individuals.



2.   Physicians, nurses and other health personnel.



3.   Employees of nursing homes and chronic care

     facilities.



Influenza vaccine is made from highly purified egg grown

viruses that have been inactivated and are non-infectious. 

Each year's influenza vaccine contains three virus strains

two types A and one type B.  The composition of vaccine

rarely causes systemic or febrile reactions.



The side reactions to vaccine are:



1.   Swelling redness at the site of injection lasting for 1

     to 2 days.



2.   Fever, myalgia and other systemic symptoms that

     begin 6 to 12 hours after vaccination and can

     persist for one to two days.



3.   Immediate hypersensitivity reactions such as hives,

     angioedema, allergic asthma that might result from

     hypersensitivity reaction to vaccine components -

     especially due to residual egg proteins.



Persons who should be vaccinated are:



1.   Physicians, nurses and other personnel in both

     hospital and outpatient care settings.



2.   Employees of nursing homes and chronic care

     facilities.



3.   Home care providers to persons at high risk

     (visiting nurses, volunteer workers).



4.   Household members including children of persons

     in high risk group.



Persons who should not be vaccinated are:



1.   Persons known to have anaphylactic

     hypersensitivity to eggs or other components.  An

     antiviral agent like amantadine or rimantadine

     should be used in those patients.



2.   Anybody with acute febrile illnesses should not be

     vaccinated until their symptoms subsided.



Pregnant women who are high risk for getting influenza

should be vaccinated as the vaccine is safe during

pregnancy.



In the United States there have been several influenza

outbreaks throughout the year, however the peak

incidence is between December and early March.  The

optimal time for organized vaccination in high risk

individuals is usually the period between Mid-October and

Mid-November.



The basic treatment of flu syndromes are:



1.   Drink plenty of fluids.



2.   Rest.



3.   Take Tylenol, aspirin or nonsteroidal

     antiinflammatory agents like Motrin to reduce

     muscle aches and discomfort.



4.   Do not give aspirin to children since it has been

     linked to high risk of getting Reyes Syndrome which

     is a potentially fatal illness.



5.   For cough, use a cough syrup with

     dexhomethorphan.  Avoid taking Codeine

     containing cough syrup or a combination of over

     the counter medications since they may cause you

     more harm than good.



6.   For stuffy nose, use nasal spray containing

     oxymetazoline, however nasal decongestant should

     not be used for more than 3 to 4 days since

     stopping the medication might cause a withdrawal

     reaction.



7.   If your symptoms persist for more than 4 to 5 days

     then get medical help, since complications of

     influenza are more serious problems.