We are now in full swing. The winter months are here. Christmas has arrived, and with it, it has brought a nice new flu season. Unfortunately, by the looks of it, this year is shaping up to be bigger and worse flu season than last year. As you and your family are gearing up to fight the big flu battle this season, it is good to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to the flu. Here is a look at some biggest myths many of us believe as truths associated with the flu and the flu season.
I have to come into direct contact with someone who has the flu to catch it.
Unfortunately, the flu virus can be spread to people that are up to six feet away from the infected person. In fact, the flu is typically spread from person to person by the infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. These actions release droplets into the air that can be carried to an unsuspecting person. You can also catch the flu virus by touching areas that have been contaminated with the flu virus. During the flu season, it is extremely important to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and cleaning surfaces that may come in contact with the flu virus.
I am not contagious if I do not feel sick.
Typically, a person is contagious a day before any of the normal symptoms start to show, and they can remain contagious for five to seven days after becoming ill. This means it is possible to give the flu virus to someone else prior to you even knowing you are sick, which unfortunately, is pretty hard to prevent. If you have been around someone who has the flu virus or later became ill, you need to limit your contact with other just to be safe and try to stay away from the elderly and young children who are affected more severely from the flu. You could also try wearing a face mask to prevent droplets from traveling from one person to the next.
If I am next to a drafty window or in extreme cold, I will get the flu.
This is a myth that has been floating around forever, and many people believe it. However, being in the cold will not give you the flu or make you more likely to get the flu. Remember you get the flu from other people infected with the virus. I know most of us are like the flu season reaches its peak in the cold winter time; however, this is just a coincidence. The weather ultimately has no control over whether or not you will become sick with the flu.
If I get a flu shot, I will become sick with the flu.
Luckily, with the flu vaccines available these days, this is not true. In the 1970s, they were giving flu shots with live versions of the virus, which could, in fact, give people the flu virus. However, we now use flu shots that uses the dead virus and only contains parts of the virus. This new version ensures that it is impossible for you to become sick with the flu.
The flu and a severe cold are basically the same.
Unfortunately, the flu, while common, can be serious. It is highly contagious and can spread quickly throughout the area. In fact, every year in the US tens of thousands of people die due to the flu and complications associated with the flu and around another 200,000 people are hospitalized because of the flu. Unfortunately, the flu virus kills more Americans each year than every other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.
There is not much you can do once you get sick with the flu virus. The best chance of escaping the flu is to take all the preventable steps available, such as getting your flu shot, washing your hands with soap and hot water (especially if you are out and about), keeping commonly used surfaces clean, keeping your hands away from your face and avoiding large crowds when you know the flu virus is at its highest peak. Remember when you take these preventable steps, you are not only looking out for yourself but also for others around you.