It is flu time in Antioch and our friends at TriStar Family Practice at the Crossings has some great advice to help keep you healthy this year.
We are right on the cusp of flu season now. Porcher said, on the early side, it may start in October and can go as late as May, with flu peaking between November and February.
The flu is a serious concern. According to Cecilia E. Porcher, FNP, a nurse practitioner at Family Practice at the Crossings, about 36,000 people die from flu-related illnesses each year and anywhere between five and 20 percent of the population is impacted by flu.
Healthcare providers are not expecting a particularly hard strain of flu this year.
“The vaccine was a good match last year and it is expected to be a good match this year,” Porcher said. “The vaccine covers the most common 2A strains and one or two of the B strains, depending on which vaccine you get.”
She added that the “B” strains are far less common and typically have milder symptoms.
But that is the key to prevention – the flu shot.
Porcher said, anecdotally, that Antioch may be a little more resistant to getting a flu shot.
“I have worked in two clinics in Antioch and have floated to other clinics in Nashville,” she said. “In comparison, I feel a greater number of residents in the Antioch area are reluctant to get flu shots. Lower number of vaccinations in a group usually equal higher number of cases of flu, but it is hard to get a true accurate number of cases since a lot of individuals treat their symptoms at home.”
That said, Porcher believes everyone six months and older should get a flu shot, unless they’ve had a severe reaction to any component of the vaccine. She also cautions against the mist since is has questionable effectiveness.
While there are often concerns that someone may get the flu from the vaccine, Porcher said that is not the case.
She added that since vaccines are often given during cold and flu season, it is more likely a person was already exposed to the viral illness before receiving the vaccine.
Porcher also offered a few other points about the vaccine.
“Once you receive your vaccine, it takes two weeks for your body to build immunity against the virus,” she said. “Also, the vaccine is new each season so if you got a vaccine in January 2016, that was for the 2015- 2016 season, not the current season, which is 2016-2017. “
The shot isn’t all. Porcher said people should practice good handwashing, covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze by coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and finally keep common areas clean.
If you think you might have the flu, here are a few things to look out for:
- Body aches
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
She said flu symptoms are sudden and more severe than a cold, and that while you can run a fever with the cold, it usually is not accompanied by chills and body aches.
Diagnosis must be confirmed in a medical clinic and people with underlying medical conditions or immune compromise should see their physician. Also, Porcher said see your physician if fever does not respond to OTC medications, headache is accompanied by sensitivity to light, neck stiffness or worsening cough along with continued fever for more than 48 hours.
Treatment is important as pneumonia is a common complication of the flu.
Porcher finally offered a few other things to remember.
Flu symptoms last 3 to 7 days with the first 3 days being worse. A cough can linger after for up to two weeks. Lastly, getting a flu shot does not mean you cannot get the flu. It just means the severity of the symptoms will likely be less. As well, the vaccine was designed to keep as many individuals from dying from the flu as possible.
Caregivers, friends and family of immune compromised individuals should receive flu shots to help protect their loved one from getting the flu.
Family Practice at the Crossings, 5300 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Suite 100, Antioch. 615-731-8390.