Take a bite out of the Flu bug!

By Dr. Olivier Gherardi, DO

Medical Director for CareWell Urgent Care Warwick

Pumpkin spice, fiery foliage, and comfy sweaters.  These are the things that remind us that fall has gently spread itself over the landscape of the season.  They also serve as perfect reminders that it is time for the annual flu shot!  Mostly because a season this beautiful and filled with outings and events with family and friends ought not to be spent alone in bed with a 104 fever.

Every new fall/winter season has the potential for a flu epidemic, which can mean different things to us all, but generally includes lost days of work, school, sports, or whatever activity you’d rather be doing. Add to that the general sensation of feeling miserable for the better part of a week –  high fevers, body aches, headaches, stuffy nose, and cough,  otherwise known as the I-Just-Got-Hit-By-A-Bus syndrome.  Influenza may sound like a nag but it actually can cause serious illness, hospitalizations, and even death. Those affected the most severely include young children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or weakened immune systems.

The flu shot usually changes some from one year to the next as some really smart scientists somewhere try to predict which strain of the virus will hit us each year. This guessing game can make the vaccine a hit or miss. And the shot is not 100% effective, as sometimes it just doesn’t “take” as effectively in some people.  Still, it is the best protection we can get against this nasty bug which just won’t go away. You’ve probably heard that there is some flu medication that can be prescribed by a medical provider, but here’s the problem – by the time you realize you have the flu, you’ll likely already be sick and may have unknowingly passed the virus on to those around you.  And in case you were wondering, antibiotics are completely ineffective against the flu.

So get your flu shot ahead of the season to protect yourself and you can keep on sipping that pumpkin latte while you rake the leaves in that cozy sweater Aunt Petunia knitted you last year.