When you get the sniffles, sneezes, coughing, congestion, or a runny nose, you may worry you are getting a cold, or worse yet, the flu. It’s easy to confuse a cold with the flu, but the common cold is often much milder and may come on gradually, while the flu usually has a rapid onset. The seasonal flu shot during peak flu season (between October and March) is an important way to protect yourself against the contagious viral infection, even if you’ve had previous flu shots. You are not immune to the flu if you’ve had it before, because the flu has many different strains, and the virus mutates every year.
Flu can be life-threatening, but even when it is not, most people feel miserable during a bout of the flu. And, it may give rise to complications, such as a pneumonia, which can be very dangerous.
Symptoms of the flu include:
No matter how healthy you are, anyone can come down with the flu. That’s because the flu is highly contagious and spreads through the air when people cough, sneeze, or even just talk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 8-11% of the U.S. population contracts the flu each year. Certain people suffer worse bouts of flu than others, especially if they have a chronic illness, such as cancer.
A seasonal flu shot is important in protecting yourself against the flu. Most people over the age of 6 months are eligible for the flu shot, including pregnant women and the elderly. When you are vaccinated annually, you are protecting more than just yourself. People with weakened immune systems, who may catch the flu from you, cannot fight off the viral infection as easily as healthier people.
Unless you have a severe, life-threatening allergy risk associated with the flu shot, consider getting vaccinated. Most people who are allergic to eggs — a common allergy association — are still eligible for the flu shot and can be vaccinated at our facility where staff can monitor you and treat any reactions quickly. Learn more about who should get the flu shot on the CDC website.
Anyone can get a cold, flu, or sore throat. If you’re unsure whether you have a pesky cold or a serious bout of the flu, Bayfront Health ER & Urgent Care is here to help.