Most people who have experienced the flu DO NOT skip their flu shot.

Need more convincing? Have a seat; these facts might take your breath (and fear of needles) away.

Like a cold front moving into Minnesota, the flu is on its way. It’s currently in South America and heading through Mexico and up to the states with its untimely arrival about the time we’re all unwrapping Christmas gifts.

Those of you who have not gotten your flu shot can bet on several things if you catch the flu:

Fever

It gets high, even 104/105 degrees. This is your body’s response to the flu virus as it works hard to produces antibodies to fight it. 

Muscle aches

Your entire body will feel achy and beyond miserable. The aches are a result of the fever. Essentially the heat in your body makes the small fibers in your muscles twitch (like when you work out). This twitching eventually makes you sore and achy. 

Cough

Some, not all, flu patients get a dry cough.

Headache

As if the fever and aches aren’t enough, a splitting headache is a typical flu symptom.

LASTS 5-7 DAYS!

Just when you think you can’t stand it anymore, you’ve got several days left of what is described as the worst feeling in the world. You can’t work. You’ll struggle to sleep. You will be on the couch, counting every minute of this torture.

Still not convinced? Maybe you’ve heard you can get the flu even if you’ve had the flu shot. That’s correct, but here’s the KEY difference: If you’ve gotten a flu shot, the duration of the flu is much shorter and less intense.

I have two children. One got the flu shot, the other (because of availability) did not. Both girls got the flu. One of them was sick for five days. The other, who received the shot, was better after only ONE DAY of being sick. Why? When you have a flu shot, your body produces antibodies to fight the flu. In 40-60 percent of cases (when the patient had the flu shot) the antibodies are enough to completely protect you from the flu virus if exposed. In the remaining cases, the antibodies aren’t enough, but the key is that they’ve already been produced. So, your body has a head start on the flu fight. If you don’t have a flu shot, it’s as though you’re stuck at the starting line of the race while everyone else is already on their way to the finish line. Without the flu shot you have no antibodies and it will take your body 5-7 days to produce enough to beat the virus. Trust me, in this race, you don’t want to finish last.

Still not convinced? 

In that case, keep the following information handy:

On the onset of flu symptoms, you need to see the doctor as soon as possible. If we see you early, we can administer medication that may help reduce the length of the flu. We can’t give you a pill to stop the flu. You’ll still endure three to four days of agony, in the best case scenario. But, the medication (Tamiflu®) can reduce the longevity of the flu.

The flu is a serious virus. It is known to cause serious implications especially for young children, the elderly and patients with conditions like asthma. Even healthy patients can fall victim to the flu. Last year we had a 41-year-old otherwise health woman come in with flu symptoms. She had been sick only a day and a half with no secondary infections. She was having trouble breathing and was admitted to the hospital. While there her lungs quickly filled with fluid and she didn’t make it.

The flu is a serious and potentially deadly virus. I don’t want you to end up The Urgency Room miserable because you didn’t do the one thing that can protect you: get a flu shot.

 

Dr. Carolyn McClain is Medical Director of The Urgency Room.

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