It's December and everywhere you look friends and family are down with flu symptoms: fevers, body aches, and fatigue.
If you're still feeling pretty chipper yourself, great! But if you want to hedge your bets, it's good to know that even though flu season is in full swing, it's not too late for the added protection of the flu vaccine.
Flu viruses change from year to year. So each year, manufacturers develop a new vaccine based on predictions of what strains of influenza viruses will be around...
Antibiotics. Medicines that treat infections by killing bacteria. They don’t work on viruses, like the flu.
Antibiotic resistance. When bacteria get used to an antibiotic and no longer respond to it. This happens because doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics to people who don’t need them.
Antiviral agents. Medicines that treat viral infections. Antivirals like oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza) can be used to treat the flu or to help prevent it in people at high risk. As a treatment, they work best if you get them within the first 2 days after your symptoms start.
Bacteria. Microscopic one-celled organisms. Some of them cause illness.
Reye's syndrome. A life-threatening brain and liver disease that can follow infection with a virus, like the flu. It’s most common in children. It’s often linked with taking meds that contain aspirin.
Sinusitis. Swollen sinuses, especially the ones around your nasal passages. Causes include infection with a virus or bacteria.
"Stomach flu." The common name for tummy troubles caused by any number of different microbes. It has no relation to flu.
Vaccine. A substance that helps protect against certain diseases. Vaccines contain a dead or weakened version of a microbe. It helps your immune system recognize and destroy the living microbe during a future infection.
Virus. A microscopic organism that invades living cells to reproduce. Many, like influenza, cause illness. Antibiotics don’t affect a virus.