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Fight the Flu with a Jab

Stunning autumn colours are gone, now you get the downside of the changing seasons: the lethargy, fever and muscle pain that signal the advent of influenza. To catch the nasty virus all you need is direct contact with an infected surface (touching a light switch, doorknob or the handrail on the tube) and transferring the pathogens to your mouth or nose. Get the better of flu this year with a jab! Get vaccinated!

Let us cut the wheat from the chaff first and see the difference between flu and the common cold. If you feel that a gerbil is running the treadmill in your throat, your nose is dripping like a leaky faucet, then a dry cough tickles and rattles your windpipe persistently for a week or two, you can rest assured that you have the common cold. Feeling a sudden bout of drowsy stupor with a spike of high temperature, worsened by aching muscles and joints, on the other hand, means that you have caught the flu. All the rest of the cold symptoms might follow in due course, of course.

The main difference, however, is that the common cold is a mild condition while influenza is a debilitating illness that may cause serious complications, such as pneumonia or sinusitis. Bear in mind that antibiotics are ineffective in fending off the primary viral infection, and your physician only prescribes it to mitigate secondary bacterial infection and to prevent further complications.

Once you are down with the flu, bed rest and hydration (drinking lots of water, sugar-free fruit tea and lemonade) are the best cure. Medication is only recommended when clinical symptoms arise (high fever, lethargy, strong pain in the throat or muscles). Blocked nose is best tackled with salt spray or other inhalants that sooth and contract the swollen mucous membranes. During the day we can take expectorants against a persistent cough.

It is highly advisable to disinfect the most commonly used surfaces (light switches, doorknobs and remote controls) at home to prevent other family members from catching the flu. Be warned by unusual symptoms, such as ear ache, sinus pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, strong lethargy and uncontrollable drowsiness – these could be the signs of more serioius health complications and require immediate medical consultation. 

What to do?

Doctors order – Dr. Zsolt Pintér, head of Dr. Rose Private Hospital International Vaccination Centre 

Most people think it is enough to take more vitamins that prepare the immune system to fight viral infection. None the less, even high doses of vitamin C are ineffective when it comes to a flu epidemic. Vaccination is the most effective prevention, which is highly recommended for children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases. There are different strains that might cause seasonal epidemic, and the composition of influenza vaccination is adjusted to the most common viruses at hand each year. The short immune response calls for repeating the vaccination annually, to ensure complete immunity through the whole season. Many are afraid of the side effects although in the case of the latest “split” vaccines these are extremely rare. Occasionally one may develop a vaccine reaction (developing flu-like symptoms following the vaccination). Two weeks after vaccination the body starts producing enough antibodies to ensure immunity.

It is interesting to note that according to an American study those inoculated against influenza have a lower risk of heart attack in that year. It is a staggering figure that in the 2017-2018 season the death toll of influenza was 80,000 in the United States alone! Get the message and get vaccinated now.