Pediatrician Debunks Top 10 Flu Myths

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Dr. Katalenas refutes common misconceptions about the flu to ensure patients stay healthier this winter

Dr. Marta Katalenas receives the flu shot at the Pediatric Center of Round Rock.

Dr. Marta Katalenas receives the flu shot

I'm shocked at how misinformed parents still are about the flu vaccine, it's time for everyone to speak out and encourage parents to get better informed

Each year, Dr. Marta Katalenas sees hundreds of patients who have the flu. "I'm shocked at how misinformed parents still are about the flu vaccine, it's time for everyone to speak out and encourage parents to get better informed" says Dr. Katalenas. With 20 children already dead from the flu this season, she's working to fight the common misconceptions that are so commonly held by many parents.

This year, she has created a list to help debunk the 10 most common flu myths that she hears on regular basis. She hopes that if parents know the truth they will make the effort to get their entire family vaccinated.

Below are Dr. Katalenas’ Top 10 Flu Myths:

Flu Myth #1: The seasonal flu is harmless.
The flu sometimes causes more than missed school and work days. The virus hospitalizes 200,000 people and kills 3,0000-49,000 people every year! That’s close to the number of women killed by breast cancer every year.

Flu Myth #2: The flu vaccine can give you the flu
It is impossible for the flu vaccine to give a person the flu. The flu vaccine contains a dead virus and the nasal spray, FluMist is engineered to remove parts of the virus that can make a patient sick.

Flu Myth #3: There is no treatment for the flu.
There is no cure for the flu, but there are antiviral medications that can make patients feel better faster and you should go to the doctor to get a prescription.

Flu Myth #4: Antibiotics can fight the flu
Antibiotics only fight bacterial infections. The flu is a virus and can’t be cured with antibiotics. If your child is given antibiotics when he or she has the flu, it may cause more harm than good.

Flu Myth #5 The flu is only dangerous for the elderly
Research shows that only five percent of flu-related deaths are among the elderly. The majority of deaths from complications from the flu are among younger people with stronger immune systems.

Flu Myth #6: “Stomach flu” is a form of influenza.
The stomach flu may come from a variety of sources and is characterized by diarrhea and vomiting. People with the flu virus may experience these symptoms but they will also experience fever, cough, congestion, body aches and exhaustion.

Flu Myth #7: If you get the flu, you can’t get it again during that flu season
Every year, people get infected with Type A or Type B of the flu virus. If you have flu, you could get another strain in the same season. Every time you become sick with the flu, you risk spreading it to others.

Flu Myth #8: You can skip years between flu vaccinations.
Most vaccines offer long-lasting protection. However, the flu virus changes every year so it is important to get immunized for that year’s strand of flu virus.

Flu Myth #9: If you haven’t gotten the seasonal flu vaccine by November, there’s no point getting vaccinated.
The flu virus peaks in February or sometimes March so by getting vaccinated you are protecting yourself for the entire flu season.

Flu Myth #10: Cold weather causes the flu
The flu tends to occur in colder months, but being outside will not make you sick. Experts agree that people get the flu in colder months because they spend more time inside in closer contact with others.

Marta Katalenas, M.D. is a pediatrician and the owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock. She is a speaker on childhood obesity issues, and author of The Step Up Diet. She believes that by making one small change at a time, families can become healthier. Learn more at drkatalenas.com.

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