Fall is here and we have already had reports of the flu making an appearance in Iowa. St. Anthony providers say that although their patients hear the word “flu” frequently, they still have many questions about what influenza really is and the best ways to protect themselves and their loved ones. Healthcare practitioners say that it is very easy to mistake the symptoms of the stomach flu for influenza, however, they are not the same. While the stomach flu is the result of an inflamed or irritated stomach and intestines, influenza symptoms include fever, congestion, muscle aches and fatigue, and the cause is always a virus. Healthcare professionals say the best way to help prevent or mitigate the effects of the flu is an annual flu vaccination as early as October up to May. Children six months and older can receive a flu vaccination and it is recommended for high-risk individuals, including those under the age of five, adults 65 and older, women who are pregnant and people with chronic health conditions. Contrary to popular myths, the flu vaccination does not give you the flu. It is made up of the protein antigens from killed viruses and is not infectious. It will not cause you to get the flu, but it will enable your body to develop the antibodies necessary to ward off potentially fatal influenza viruses. The St. Anthony medical staff encourages everyone to contact their healthcare provider with questions about the flu and the vaccine and to take the necessary precautions throughout the flu season.
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