What is Influenza?
It seems many people commonly confuse “the flu” with influenza. I think most people commonly refer to a stomach flu (also known as viral gastroenteritis) as the flu. Viral gastroenteritis caused by rotavirsus, or adenovirus is what makes us vomit and sit on the toilet with relentless diarrhea. These “stomach flu’s” although miserable are typically self limiting and resolve after 24 to 72 hours.
What doctors call “The Flu” is the actual notorious influenza virus that can be lethal to elderly and immunocompromised folks is a nasty two week long affair that involves a high fever usually over 102 F, chills, body aches, sore throat, cough, and may also include diarrhea and vomiting but less commonly. If you have these miserable symptoms it is extremely important that you stay home and take care of yourself so that you are not infecting those with weak immune systems that can have severe complications from this illness.
Although I determine the need for a flu vaccine on a case by case basis, generally speaking most healthy individuals do not need to be vaccinated against influenza as the virus is not likely to kill them. If you want to be vaccinated against this illness that decision is entirely up to you. I do however recommend a flu vaccine for any elderly or immunocompromised patient, people caring for or living with these patients, patients with heart and lung conditions should also be vaccinated as a preventative measure.
Again if you are suffering from the symptoms of influenza please be sure to STAY HOME and prevent the spread of this miserable illness!
Author: Dr. Nicole Sundene