Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Flu_ Time to Take It Seriously

By: Mohannad Azzam, M.D. at Medical West

Sometimes when we are consistently exposed to something, we can become numb to it. Whether it be foul language, good manners, tragic news coverage - all kinds of things in our lives where the more we see of it, the less of an impact it seems to make, and the less attention we give to it.

I think that this may have happened with the flu.

For a long time, we’ve been exposed to the flu through television commercials, conversation, news coverage, on and on. And in my experience, I’m not seeing the appropriate level of concern over the flu that it deserves. While many times the flu can be a mild illness, there are the cases where it develops into a much more severe situation, resulting in hospitalization and even death. Yes - people do die from the flu.

Influenza is respiratory illness caused by flu viruses, and it is contagious. When a person has the flu, they’ll commonly have fever or feeling chills. Accompanying that is the combination of runny noses, coughs, and sore throats - and muscle and body aches. Headaches are common, as well as feeling fatigued.

Anyone can get the flu. And that’s something that adds to the dangerousness. You can be perfectly healthy, but once you’re body is exposed to a virus it has not encountered before - you can still get sick. And oftentimes, those healthy individuals believe that they are so healthy that they can handle any sickness naturally - and that’s where they can get in trouble.

Influenza, when not treated, can roll into something much worse: bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus and ear infections. And before many people realize, they have a very serious situation on their hands.

The best protection against the flu is vaccination. Stay up to date with your shots! The CDC recommended a yearly flu vaccine - which may seem like its too often, but because of the viral nature of the flu, staying up to date with the changes the viruses may make is important.

Also, be sure to do the smart things everyday to avoid the flu - like, avoid sick people. And if you become sick, don’t spread it around. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth - this is how germs spread, and of course - wash your hands often!

And when you get sick - see your doctor, and do what they tell you to! If you are prescribed medicine, take as instructed. And if your doctor tells you to stay home, do it!

While you may feel like you hear about it all the time - the flu is more serious than you may think. Don’t get numb to it! Anyone can get the flu, healthy or sickly individuals - we’re all at risk. Get your vaccinations and take action if you’re feeling the symptoms.

Take Care, Dr. Azzam

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