Nov 172017
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Flu season is upon us and there is a lot of misinformation out there. Here's what you need to know about the flu this winter.

Flu season is once again upon us and, as a nurse, I feel like this warrants a blog.  There are some common misconceptions about the flu.  My personal favorite is one that we’ve all heard – “I got the flu shot once and it gave me the flu”.  This is absolutely 100% impossible.  The flu vaccine is NOT a live virus, making it scientifically impossible for you to get the flu from it.  If you get sick after getting the flu shot, it is purely coincidental; you were likely brewing some sort of viral illness prior to receiving it.

This brings me to my next point: not every illness/virus/cold someone gets during flu season is the flu.  People tend to call whatever they contract the flu.  The only way to know with 100% certainty that you have the flu is to be tested.  It’s a nasal swab; it’s not pleasant, I’m not going to lie.  At the Urgent Care that I work at on the weekends we do rapid flu tests right there; results within 10 minutes.  How’s that for service? Other facilities send the swabs to the lab and you’ll have your results back within a few hours.  If it comes back negative, you likely have some other viral illness that’s going around.  I know, I know….no one likes to hear “it’s just a virus”.  Bear in mind that the flu is a virus; these things just need to run their course.  No antibiotic will make any of it go away.  Treatment is rest, fluids, Tylenol…. the usual.  **IF** you are diagnosed within 48 hours of the start of the symptoms, there is Tamiflu.  Tamiflu is an antiviral that will lessen the symptoms and duration of the flu.  It is only effective if started within the first 48 hours.  

Okay, so what are the symptoms? The hard part is that the symptoms are like every virus out there.  The one thing I can tell you is that the symptoms will come out of nowhere and hit you like a ton of bricks.  When I had it, I woke up feeling great and went to work.  Within 2 hours I ached, had a fever, and wanted to die.  Anyway, symptoms are: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.  You know, like most viruses.  

By now you probably all know the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu, but I think that it bears repeating.  The CDC and physicians will tell you that the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine.  Some agree with this and some don’t; it’s really a matter of preference.  My son has chronic medical issues so both he and I get the flu shot every year.  We have both had the flu despite having had the shot. Based on some cases of the flu that I have seen as a nurse, we definitely did not have as severe a case, and we were both treated with Tamiflu.  

Other ways to prevent the spread of flu or any illness are exactly what one would expect:

  1. Stay home if you are sick.  Don’t go to work; don’t send your kids to school.  There is a reason they want kids fever free for 24 hours before coming back; they could still be contagious.  No one at work wants to catch the plague from you.  Just stay home.
  2. Avoid close contact with others.  Cover your mouth if you cough/sneeze.
  3. Clean and disinfect surfaces.  Desks, phones, door handle…they are all culprits.  I love the sanitizing wipes. Use them often.
  4. Handwashing.  This is probably the most important.  We don’t even realize how often we tough our eyes, mouth, etc.  It’s so easy to transfer those germs.  I keep hand sanitizer in my car, on my desk, and in my purse.  

So, here’s to hoping you stay healthy this flu season!

About Rachel

My name is Rachel and I'm the single mom of a 14 year old boy. I am a Registered Nurse nurse caring for our nation's veterans. I'm a amateur photographer and a self-proclaimed "adventurer"; I am always looking for for free and inexpensive ways to enjoy life.

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  79 Responses to “The Flu: What You Need To Know”

  1. My brother and his family have been suffering with the flu for the last week. Until they are done I am going nowhere near them. This flu sounds like an awful one. These are some great tips to prepare for this year.

  2. We used to get the flu shots every year, but the last few we’ve stopped. Since I work from home now, and my daughter is homeschooled, we haven’t been sick quite as often. And not nearly as bad off as we used to get.

  3. My kids and I get flu shots every year and never got the flu yet. It’s that time of year though, we like tend to stay home more.

  4. I hate when people come into work when they have the flu. For the good of your fellow man, you need to stay home. It must be crazy working in a hospital during flu season. (Knock on wood), I haven’t had the flu in over 20 years. I don’t even know what to expect if I get it because last time I was just a kid.

  5. Oh man I can’t begin to tell you how careful I am about avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing around me. I feel like I can’t afford to catch a flu because I don’t want to pass it to my 21 month old daughter at home!

  6. I have a standing rule in the house that EVERYONE washes their hands after they come in and before they eat or do any food prep. They pretty much have to wash their hands all the time or suffer my wrath. Seriously…

  7. I am constantly on guard against the flu and pretty much all other creeping cruds. Both my kids tend to bring home EVERYTHING from everywhere. Great information!

  8. I am so bookmarking this! I have no time to get the flu – or any other sickness for that matter. Thanks for sharing all of this. Maybe this year I won’t get sick!

  9. I need all this information! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Winter is coming and we really have to get ready!

  10. Great tips, and, thank you for educating us on the symptoms of flu. Time to stock up on Tamiflu, just in case.

  11. I love getting tips because we seem to forget what we need to do each year.

  12. We all get the shot here. Now if they had a shot for strep throat, that would be good as the teen gets that every year.

  13. You first point about the flu shot not giving you the flu needs to be shouted from all the rooftops. I really need to check in and get mine!

  14. I don’t get usually get the shot, I guess I should, my husband gets it because he’s required since he works in health care and the kids get it occasionally when their appointments line up with flu season. I really should be better about this. In my defense, I have only had the flu once in my life. I’m not anti-flu shot, I’m just not one that usually goes to the doctor.

  15. We’ve used Tamiflu before, and swear by it. We have, admittedly, started it too late, once, and it didn’t really do anything for the flu. Thanks for the insight on the flu.

  16. I do not get the flu shot. I’ve had the actual flu one time. While it was the WORST, I was able to fight it off just fine and haven’t had it since (knock on wood)!

  17. I swear by the flu shot, I have only got the flu twice, both times have changed my life because of the after effects, last time was the swine flu outbreak and my parents had got into the earlier appointments than me and they were able to help me through it without catching it – I don’t know what I would have done without them.

  18. Staying home is the key. Many just think they are fine while harboring the flu. I work in the schools so it is easy for it to spread through the kids

  19. Ick, I hate when we get sick. We don’t go for the shots and hope for the best. Last year we got lucky. The year before that we did not. So you just never know!

  20. I’ve never gotten a flu shot or actually had the flu. (Lucky I know and I’m slightly obsessed about keeping away from sick people) Great tips for everyone, thanks for sharing 🙂

  21. The flu will knock you on your butt too! Regardless of the shot or not the shot. I hate to be sick more then a simple shot.

  22. I have been pretty lucky the last few years. I have made sure to get my flu shot as soon as they come out. So far I have been able to avoid getting really sick.

  23. This is such a good reminder. It doesn’t hurt to get tested as well, just to make sure you’re completely healthy. I think it’s important that people take note of these.

  24. I dread the flu season since somehow I’ve managed to get it 2 of the last 4 years. I actually got my flu shot this year so I’m crossing my fingers for a better winter.

  25. Thank you for sharing this information. Flu season is definitely upon us and gotta do what we can to prevent getting it!

  26. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for any of those symptoms! I don’t want to catch the flu and I don’t want to spread it either!

  27. You can never take enough care of your health. I think these are really important reminders especially this season!

  28. This is such an important reminder for everyone, not just parents! I think it’s really good to make sure that everyone gets that flu shot regularly.

  29. It’s really important to stay home and rest when you’re sick as well as to get the necessary shots. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves when we’re ill, so this was really helpful.

  30. I haven’t gotten the flu shot in a few years since I stopped working with the public. The flu shot works for some and not for others, I still became sick from the flu shot.

  31. Oh I am so not looking forward to the flu season again. It always seems like whenever the kids get sick the hubby gets sick and it’s down hill from there, lol. :0)

  32. It’s great seeing people spread around important information like this, especially about the flu! Your tips are awesome!

  33. The flu is no joke. I’ve had it once in my life and hope I never get it again. These are great tips to help avoid that nasty virus!

  34. I have actually never had the flu! But it sounds terrible and I dread the possibility of getting it every year, whether or not I’ve had the flu shot. So important to know the facts!

  35. This is some really great information. Having the flu is literally awful.

  36. I have not had the flu for several years now. We do get head colds in our home a few times a year. Its usually picked up from my little guys playing with other children who have it. I totally agree that anyone sick with cold or flu viruses should stay home until better.

  37. My whole family gets the flu shot… we used to catch it so bad each year but since getting shots the past few years we haven’t been sick once.

  38. These are really good points to keep in mind and coming from a nurse is even better. Great job is treating the patients and making everyone aware of it.

  39. Great tips. Our girls are in a play this week and I am making them wash hands as soon as they get done shaking hands afterwards. It’s flu season!

  40. No flu shot for us. We are boosting our immune system naturally and follow the rules of good hygiene. Thankfully, I’ve never gotten the flu as an adult.

  41. We get our flu shots regularly year after year and we take supplements to boost our immunity too. Some people may hate missing work (and a day’s pay) and still report for work even they are sick. I hope these people do themselves a favor – stay home, rest, and avoid spreading the virus.

  42. I always get a flu shot! I was born with a genetic defect that affects my lungs and can’t afford to get sick. Why risk it? It’s nice that they have Tamiflu for those who forgot to get their flu shot! 🙂

  43. Handwashing is the best way to prevent it. We often get flu before but I think we learned our lessons now.

  44. What a great post. You never know who is carrying the flu or any other virus especially out in public. I also know there are different strains so even if you get the flu shot you could still get a different strain of it. Thank you for these tips.

  45. The flu is so rough. I had it last year and I am doing everything I can to avoid getting it ever again.

  46. The only time I have ever had the flu in the past 30 years was the one time I procrastinated about getting my flu shot. I was so sick that time that I had to stay in my hotel room in Anaheim and missed out on going to Disneyland. I know the shot isn’t a 100% guarantee to keep it away but it sure has helped protect me.

  47. Ugh. I guess this means it’s time to get a flu shot. I used to work in the schools a lot, and inevitably, I would catch the flu. Thanks for this great information. (It’s true. We do tend to call everything the flu!)

  48. This was really helpful. My husband had it bad last year.

  49. Eck we are getting to that time of the year where this really becomes a concern. I have to say, I never know when it is the flu so thank you.

  50. The flu is just awful to have to go through. This is some really good information.

  51. The flu is so yucky, but it is definitely that time of year! These are definitely some good things to know. Thanks for sharing.

  52. I get so frustrated with people that say they got the flu from the vaccine! I recently got into an argument with some family members who were refusing to get the shot before visiting with a few new family members (newborns). They changed their tune when the babies’ moms refused to allow visits without it. So proud of those mothers!!!

  53. This was such an informative article! I have always heard people say that they didn’t want to get a flu shot because the last time they did it gave them the flu. I didn’t know that flu shots do not contain live viruses. It’s also great to know about Tamiflu – I’m going to keep that in my memory bank!

  54. My family makes extra effort to stay healthy during flu season. We get immunized and take more Vitamin C and Zinc. Hopefully, we can get through this season without catching the flu. If any of us would, I will make sure he/she stays home until they are well.

  55. This is really good information and reminder for everyone! It’s important that we put our health as our first priority. We make sure that we have flu shots and that we have all the meds we need. A check up when you get the flu won’t hurt as well.

  56. Staying home when you are sick, no matter if it is the flu or not, is so important. I hate when I see other people, especially kids at my daughter’s school, noticeably sick but still trying to be out and about.

  57. Cold and flu season is definitely here. Fortunately we do not have the flu but our entire house have coughs and colds. This is great info about this awful cold!

  58. The flu is not fun. I had a confirmed case in 2007. My boyfriend (husband now) had to take me to urgent care. Now I get the flu shot because I don’t want it and it is necessary since I have a compromised immune system thanks to rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

  59. This is great information we should all remember especially now that we are in the middle of cold and flu seaon. Wash your hands is what I always say to the kids when they walk into the house.

  60. Washing the hands is very important. We caught the flu three years ago and it was awful. I hope we don’t get it again.

  61. So many people need a good reminder to stay home when they’re sick! And to keep their sick kids home too! It might feel like an inconvenience but my goodness it’s so important for everyone.

  62. You provide some great helpful tips. Staying home is the key entirely agree.

  63. This is great advice and info! Half of us have already gotten our flu shot – now it’s up to the rest of us, I guess! I’ve had the flu one time, and I don’t care to repeat it!

  64. I had no idea that you had to get a nasal swab to determine if you have the flu or not. I’m used to the common cold during this time of the year. Sucks, even more, when it’s the kids that have it.

  65. The flu is the worst, especially when people come into work and spread around their germs. I’ve been more impressed with companies who actually encourage people to stay home when they are sick. No need to get everyone sick, which is why I also keep my desk clean and wash my hands frequently.

  66. Having the flu sounds like it is no fun at all! I can’t imagine what it must be like then again, I don’t even want to know (but at the same time, there’s no way I’ll ever get a flu shot!).

  67. The worst is when you go to sit down at a restaurant and you forget your hand sanitizer in your purse because you refilled it and left it on the counter. I have done this more times than not!

  68. After 3 years my mom flu didn’t attack here. She’s been complaining of it again. Bad thing, she’s out of medicine. Maybe I’ll recommend a Flu shot for her.

  69. Having a flu is one of the worst feelings ever. Usually, I would boost myself with vitamin C to be able to combat it.

  70. Great tips! I wish more would stay home when they are feeling awful … I hate feeling great but then headin to the store or something and coming home feeling sicker than a dog because someone coughed or sneezed on me 🙁 its awful.

  71. All those tips are really worth it. People who suffering with cold and flu need to follow all the rules you have shared in this blog. I will pass it on to my colleagues.

  72. That’s a very informative post..I didn’t know about all this..thanks for sharing this information with us..

  73. Definitely stay home is my biggest advice! Don’t spread them am I right!

  74. My kids had the flu 2 Christmas’ ago and it was rough. I need to get them the flu vaccine…or really all of us. Thanks for the reminder.

  75. Blah! I hate when my kids get the flu and are groggy. We are always disinfecting things around here.

  76. so many points and ways to get through flu season, definitely not what people want to think about during the holidays.

  77. Omg this answered so many questions I was having! Thanks so much for sharing!

  78. Thank you for providing your readers with such an informative post. I hate getting sick and I will definitely used every measure mentioned here and try not to get sick.

  79. I’m so glad someone has done a post on the flu. I am guilty of waiting to get the meds at the onset!