The flu is an illness that many people associate as an annoying and harmless condition that they must endure at least once or twice a year. Unfortunately, that belief is dangerous because the flu can be a much more severe concern than many people realize. Every year at least 250,000 people around the world lose their life because of this virus. In some years that number climbs to 500,000. Even higher is the number of people who are hospitalized and miss school or work from an illness that might have been prevented with a single immunization.
The Dangers of the Flu
Flu symptoms typically include a fever, respiratory discomfort and aches and pains. Complications from the virus include ear and sinus infections and pneumonia. The illness can lead to already existing medical conditions becoming worse. Asthma, diabetes and congestive heart failure can be exacerbated by the Influenza virus and are common causes of death. Dehydration is also a serious threat.
The People Most at Risk
The elderly, young children and people with any pre-existing medical condition are the most at risk. Pregnant women are also susceptible to experiencing severe complications. However, this does not mean that young and healthy adults should ignore the risks.
How to Avoid the Flu
Getting immunized at a flu shot clinic is the best way to avoid contracting the flu. People often believe that as long as they stay away from someone with the illness or wash their hands a lot, they are safe from becoming sick. While these tips will help, they are no guarantee. The flu virus is contagious even if the person with it is symptom-free. In fact, as much as 30 percent of the people who are carrying the illness will not show any symptoms. The Ontario government also keeps a regular tab on influenza activity so you can prepare preventive measures when activity is high.
How to Prevent Serious Complications
Procrastinating about getting an immunization often leads to contracting the illness. In these instances it is important to be sensible about how it is treated. Avoid contact with other people as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus. Drink fluids and get plenty of bed rest. Make an appointment with a family medicine clinic if a fever is severe or does not respond to OTC medication. Any respiratory distress should be immediately checked to avoid allowing infections to spread. At-risk people with the flu should be carefully monitored.
Neglecting to receive a flu shot can have serious consequences. Nearly every walk-in clinic will have an abundant supply and the process takes only a few minutes. Reactions to the immunization are rare and minor. Contrary to common rumors, it is impossible to catch the flu through an immunization. Despite the fact that a shot will not protect 100 percent of the time, it does have the potential to save lives and reduce suffering.