The Ultimate 2019-2020 Guide to Influenza: What You Need to Know About the Flu

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By Sandra D. Lane

The 2019/2020 flu season has started, as has the push for the flu vaccine in physician’s offices and health departments across the nation, and as the graphs and charts are showing, the dreaded H1N1 is already a part of this year’s influenza outbreak (although it appears different from the H1N1 of 2009).

Before I go any further, let me repeat a Truth that I will always stand behind: The absolute best way to protect yourself from the flu and any side effects is personal cleanliness. You won’t get a sore throat from washing with soap (unless you swallow it of course), and I doubt eating a healthy diet will give you a headache or aches and pains.

Here’s what you need to know about the flu.

Influenza is broken down into three main groups, A, B, and C. Type A is the most common, is highly contagious, can spread from animals to humans, and is known to cause pandemics. Type B is also highly contagious but, unlike A, it can only be spread between humans. Type B can cause seasonal outbreaks and can be transferred throughout the year. Type C is considered the mildest version of the flu. I wonder if it’s like a bad cold. Just my wonderings though – I’m not a doctor of any sort.

Usually, though, unless your episode is particularly serious or you specifically ask, the doctor won’t mention what type you have, primarily because they all have the same general symptoms.

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)

It’s important to know that not everyone experiences a fever. Also, some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than adults.

The symptom that usually stands out though is “muscles or body aches” and “tiredness”. For me at least, these always hit first and made me feel like I’d been running for my life, then caught by one of those blacktop pavers. Ugh.

Aren’t sure if you have a cold or the flu, but aren’t ready to go to the doctor yet? Read this!

Watch for complications, as they can be more serious than the flu itself.

The flu itself usually goes away in a few days to less than two weeks, but it’s the complications that can make everything go south. Moderate examples, such as sinus and ear infections, can make the flu even more miserable and then require antibiotics. (Remember: Influenza is viral, which means antibiotics do not help.)

Other complications can include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Myocarditis (Inflammation of the heart)
  • Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • Myositis (inflammation of the muscles)
  • Multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure)

The flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. People with asthma may experience increased asthma attacks while they have flu, and people with chronic heart disease may have a worsening of this condition because of flu.

There are some influenza symptoms to be wary of as they could indicate an immediate need for medical attention. People experiencing these warning signs should obtain medical care right away, according to the CDC:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

The flu shot may not protect you from getting sick.

It’s also important to remember that anyone can get sick with the flu. Can you still get the flu even after getting the flu shot? The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) says absolutely: “Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated.”

According to the CDC, that’s because you can be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the flu vaccine, you can be exposed to a flu virus before getting vaccinated, or during the time frame that it takes the body to gain protection from the vaccination. (It takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccination to be effective.)

Then there are those who can become infected with a flu virus that the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. The protection of the vaccination can vary widely and doesn’t protect everyone.

So yes, anyone can get sick with influenza, some more than others. Then there are the ailments one can get from the flu vaccine, “side effects” as they’re called, that oddly seem similar to the symptoms of the flu – but the CDC states that “a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness”. Even so, here are the ‘side effects’ of the flu vaccine – shot or nasal spray.

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Admittedly, these side effects don’t seem to last as long as a full-blown case of influenza, however, my husband, the day after getting a flu shot one year, said he felt like he’d been in a car wreck and vowed to never get a flu shot again. That was four years ago, and his own experience, but one I happen to agree with.

Even so, there are publications galore of statistics and studies seeming to show that despite the side effects, the flu shot helps more than it hurts, (both literally and figuratively), and so it appears that the final decision on whether to get the influenza vaccine falls on the individual – just as it should.

There are things you can do to avoid catching the flu.

“The absolute, number one way to avoid catching the flu is through the exercise of good personal hygiene,” says Daisy Luther.

Daisy actually has “30 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Catching the Flu” that I’d encourage everyone to read or re-read. And yes, number one is actually simply washing your hands.

Meadow Clark gives us tips to avoid the flu as well, and more flu preventatives and remedies like Elderberry Tea, Vitamin C, and Honey, and says “Homeopathy to the rescue! It sounds incredible, but homeopathy has never let me down. It’s a big part of my health regime. I take a variety of homeopathics at the first sign of food poisoning, joint pain, gas, monthly moodiness, spider bites, work exhaustion, allergies and more.”

Here are some home remedies you may want to try

There are all sorts of home remedies that may help you feel better if you do get sick.

What do you think?

Are there things your family does to avoid infection with the flu and other illnesses? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Hoping everyone has a safe and well holiday season!

About Sandra

Sandra is a published artist, photographer, fellow prepper, and animal advocate.

The push for the flu vaccine in doctor\'s offices, pharmacies, and health departments across the nation has begun. Here\'s what to know about influenza. | The Organic Prepper
Sandra D. Lane

About the Author

Sandra D. Lane

Sandra is a published artist, photographer, fellow prepper, and animal advocate.

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