The Latest Cold and Flu News
The Sniffles and the Flu
Prescription steroids are the usual cure for chronic sinus infections, but new data find that an over-the-counter saline solution may help ease symptoms. It thins and washes away mucus so congestion lessens.
-- Lauren Strupp
Good news: This year there's no flu vaccine shortage -- 132 million doses are available (up from 120 million in 2006). That's lucky, because 75 percent of Americans are at high risk for influenza: children 6 months to 5 years, people over 50, and anyone with health problems such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. Flu complications such as pneumonia can put high-risk people in the hospital.
You need a new shot every year. The viruses that cause the flu change, and so does the vaccine.
Needle phobic? Healthy people ages 5 through 49 can get the vaccine in a nasal spray. Doctors don't give it to everyone because it's made from a weakened form of the viruses (the shot is from killed virus).
The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in, so it's best to schedule it in the fall. Since the flu season often peaks in January or February, even a late dose can help. If you get the flu, call a doctor right away. Taking a prescription antiviral, such as Tamiflu, within two days can shorten symptoms by a few days and reduce their severity as well.
-- Mego Lien
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, November 2007.
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