Dear Doctor: Flu Shots

Chau-Tran-MDFrequently patients have questions about the flu, including flu symptoms, prevention and flu vaccination. Below I address these questions.

Q: What is the flu?

A: The flu, also called influenza, is a viral infection in the nose, throat and lungs.

Q: What are the symptoms of the flu?

A: The flu may cause fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and tiredness. Cold symptoms are generally milder than flu symptoms. Some people describe the flu as the worst cold of their life.

Q: What should I do if I get the flu?

A: It is recommended that you stay home and get plenty of rest; drinking lots of fluids will prevent dehydration. You can use over-the-counter medications like Tylenol/Ibuprofen for fever and pain, cough suppressants/expectorants for relieving coughs, and decongestants for runny nose. Most people usually feel better after one or two weeks, but for certain individuals, like babies, the elderly, and people with chronic medical problems, the flu can lead to serious, life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia.

Flu-ShotQ: What can I do to prevent from getting the flu?

A: 1.  Take care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet.

2.  Wash your hands often.

3.  Get a flu shot, which is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older.

Q: What is the flu vaccine?

A: There are two delivery methods of flu vaccines, injection and nasal spray.  An injection contains dead viruses, while the nasal spray contains live but weakened viruses.  The vaccines work by exposing your body to said viruses, allowing your body time to produce antibodies. Should you become exposed to a “live” virus, your body is ready with its new defenses.

Q: Can I catch the flu from the flu vaccine?

A: You cannot get the flu from the injection because the viruses are dead. The nasal spray contains live but weakened viruses thus it would not cause an infection.

Q: Can I still get the flu if I got vaccinated?

A: Since there are various flu viruses, it is possible to get the flu after vaccination.  However, flu symptoms would be milder than if you did not get vaccinated.

Dr. Chau Tran is a Family Medicine Physician for the UT Health Science Center at Houston. To receive your $15 flu shot, contact the UT Physicians at Cinco Ranch clinic located at 23923 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy, TX 77494, 713-486-5300.