Illness from cold and flu have affected us all at some point, and most likely repeatedly. There are plenty of cold and flu old-wives-tales which have circulated, but sometimes grandma’s advice isn’t right. The following is some cold and flu myth busters, just to set the record straight.
I know most of us have heard many of the following misconceptions, and it’s my hope that truths reach farther than those myths!
- The flu vaccine gives you the flu.
FALSE. Flu vaccinations delivered via a needle are either made with an ‘inactivated’ flu virus that’s not infectious, or with no flu virus at all.
- You don’t need to get the flu vaccine every year.
FALSE. In order to best protect yourself from the flu you need to be vaccinated annually. Getting a vaccine doesn’t need to be a complicated, time consuming process. Canadians can drop in to their local Shoppers Drug Mart or select grocery stores at any time of day, without an appointment.
- You should wait until the height of flu season to get vaccinated so you’re protected for longer.
FALSE. While it’s never too late to get vaccinated, it’s best to receive your flu shot soon after it’s available, likely October. The antibodies delivered via the flu vaccine that protect you against infection take up to two weeks to take effect, and since the flu peaks between December – February it’s important to get vaccinated weeks before the holiday party season starts.
- Pregnant women need to get consent from their doctor prior to receiving the flu vaccine.
FALSE. There is no recommendation for pregnant women to seek consent from their doctor prior to vaccination. However, there are some people who should seek their doctors’ advice prior to being vaccinated, including those who have a moderate – to – severe illness and patients with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
The information about these cold and flu myths comes from this CDC article, yet there is another tidbit of information which was shared that I also think is crucial to be noted as well. In fact, it’s something that I think many more of us are incorrect about…
Is the “stomach flu” really the flu?
No. Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or “sick to your stomach” can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
If you had this misconception all this time, you are not alone. I admit, I had the wrong information for too long as well.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Now that we’ve busted those cold and flu myths, read up on How to Prevent Cold and Flu and How to Boost your Immune System. Getting the flu vaccine is the #1 thing you can do to prevent the flu. In fact, 70-90% of flu cases can be averted through vaccination. The flu vaccine in Canada contains 3 or 4 different influenza strains, helping to reduce the severity of flu illness.
Getting your annual flu shot is easy – Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies offer flu immunizations administered by an injection-certified pharmacist, without an appointment!
Are you getting vaccinated this year?
Disclosure: I am compensated for my part in the #SDMFluFighters program, all opinions are my own.