The flu season is upon us. The exact timing of flu season changes from year to year, but influenza tends to become more common starting in October and then ramp up from there, with the most virus activity occurring between December and February.
Here are some of the most common questions about influenza and the 2020-2021 flu season:
What is the flu?
More formally known as influenza, flu is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s contagious and can range from mild to severe, in some cases even leading to death.
What are some common flu symptoms?
Influenza affects the respiratory system, so you’ll notice many symptoms related to your throat, nose, and lungs. Some of the most common symptoms include a sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, fever, body and muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue.
It’s important to seek medical care right away if you experience more severe symptoms and complications, such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, seizures, lack of urination, severe weakness or muscle pain, confusion, persistent dizziness.
Should I get a flu shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly everyone who is six months old or older should get a flu vaccine. Even though the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective in preventing the flu, the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting it.
While the vaccine is safe and recommended for most people, there are some exceptions, including people with allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients and people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome in the past. If you have any questions about getting a flu shot, it’s a good idea to seek guidance from a healthcare provider.
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
After getting a flu shot it takes about two weeks for your body to develop flu antibodies (these help protect you from getting sick if you come in contact with the influenza virus), so it’s a good idea to get your flu shot before the virus starts spreading widely in your community. Early fall is a good time, but if you forget or are unable to get one then for some reason, flu shots are usually still available later into the flu season.
What flu vaccines are recommended this flu season?
This season’s flu vaccines were updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States. For the 2020-2021 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference for any one vaccine over another.
Can I have flu and COVID-19 simultaneously?
It’s possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 or another respiratory illness at the same time, though researchers aren’t sure how common this will be. With the possibility that the flu and coronavirus will both be spreading at the same time this winter, the CDC says getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever before. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.