Posted by Dr. Eugene Park

Flu is very common during winter, and if you suffered from the flu recently, you know how sick you can be. Chances are that some of the advice or an article you read about the flu was wrong. It is important to understand the common myths about the flu, and habits to keep you healthy.

1. Myth: The flu isn’t dangerous

While most people who catch the flu will endure a self-limited illness, the flu is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Last year, the CDC estimates nearly a million people were hospitalized for the flu with 80,000 deaths. The flu is especially dangerous for patients with chronic illnesses, the elderly, and young infants.

2. Myth: The flu shot can cause the flu

The influenza vaccine does not contain live virus and cannot cause the flu. The most common side effects reported have been local pain at the site of injection, headaches and muscle aches. Some patients may experience a low-grade fever from the inflammatory reaction but this is not serious, is temporary, and is unrelated to the flu.

3. Myth: I will be 100% protected from the flu after receiving the flu shot.

The flu vaccination can prevent millions of influenza illnesses each year, preventing thousands of hospitalizations and deaths. However, the vaccine is not 100% effective and there is still a chance of becoming ill with the flu. It is always important to practice good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of illness.

4. Myth: Antibiotics will help cure the flu.

The flu is a viral illness and is not treated with antibiotics. Unnecessary antibiotics can lead to other side effects such as diarrhea, upset stomach, and sometimes serious allergic reactions. Certain antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, may be indicated for certain patients with the flu. For most people, the flu will resolve with time and without the need for prescription medications.