Resource Round-Up: Fighting the Flu
Influenza season is here, and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk for infection and may get more severe flu cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because flu can be dangerous for people with HIV/AIDS, any flu-like symptoms warrant contacting your medical provider right away. If you do have the flu, your doc may prescribe antiviral medication that can make your symptoms less severe and speed your recovery.
(Not-so-fun fact: “Stomach flu” isn’t really flu at all; it’s actually viral gastroenteritis, which affects your intestines rather than your nose, throat, and lungs.)
So, what can you do to fight the flu?
This round-up of online resources can help you protect yourself against infection, recognize flu symptoms, get treatment if you do come down with the flu, and avoid spreading the illness to others.
- Ask A Pharmacist: Gearing Up for Flu Season
This in-depth BETA article from clinical pharmacist Jennifer Cocohoba will get you up to speed on HIV and the flu—and the flu vaccine. “People living with HIV should seek a ‘traditional’ (injected) flu shot, which contains only inactivated influenza virus,” Cocohoba explains. “The influenza nasal vaccine FluMist is a ‘live’ vaccine that is not advised for with compromised immune systems.” The CDC recommends flu shots for everyone age 6 months and older, with some important exceptions: “You should not get a flu shot if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, if you are allergic to eggs (because chicken eggs are used in the manufacturing process), or if you have a history of any paralyzing illnesses such as Guillain-Barré syndrome,” Cocohoba points out. Read the full article here, and don’t hesitate to talk to your own pharmacist or medical provider if you have questions about flu vaccine safety.
- 2012-2013 Could Be Bad Flu Season, Not Too Late to Get Vaccine, CDC Advises
“Significant increases in influenza activity in the U.S. during the past 2 weeks indicate that this year’s flu season has come early, and it could be a bad one,” writes Liz Highleyman on HIVandHepatitis.com. “Fortunately, this year’s vaccine formulation appears to be a good match for circulating strains seen so far,” she adds, and it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Read the full article here for a glimpse of how the current flu season is shaping up, and what it means for you.
- Healthmap Flu Vaccine Finder
To find a location providing flu shots, visit flushot.healthmap.org and enter your zip code. Your medical provider’s office can also provide the vaccine.
- Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits
Recommended by the CDC, these six simple habits can help you avoid getting or spreading the flu. (Want to earn instant gratitude from friends, loved ones, and public transit passengers? Follow tip #3.)
- Flu Symptoms
Do you have the flu, or just a nasty cold? Check your symptoms at MayoClinic.com’s flu symptom page.
- HIV/AIDS & the Flu
Just looking for the facts? This reader-friendly factsheet from Flu.gov, a website produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers the very basics on flu for people with HIV/AIDS.
Reilly O’Neal is a freelance writer and former editor of BETA.