Most commonly known as "The Flu," Influenza is a highly contagious disease that can be serious, debilitating and affect the whole body. It is especially harmful in Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients who "are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized and even dying if they contract Influenza," according to Influenza Specialist Group.
Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients are at "high risk" of very bad health outcomes after contracting the Flu because of weak immune systems which "predisposes patients to infection with pneumococcal bacteria (a leading cause of serious illness throughout the world) which pose an additional serious risk to Kidney Disease sufferers," said Influenza Specialist Group. Luckily, by correcting common myths associated with the Flu, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients can reduce their risk and improve their health outcomes.
1. "As long as the person does not cough on me, then I will not get the Flu." Wrong! Most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients probably know that the Flu can be spread by infected people coughing or sneezing as well as from contaminated surfaces. However, most do not realize that laughing, talking and even breathing can also disperse the Flu Virus.
2. "At least, the Flu is not deadly." Not so fast. Actually, it is. Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients are at a much higher risk for death or a bad outcome from the Flu because their immune systems are not as strong to begin with.
3. "It is probably just a cold." Yet, maybe not. Many people confuse
the common cold with Influenza. However, colds are much less severe. Flu symptoms include fever (often high), chills, severe cough, headaches, muscle aches, pains, and sore throat.
4. "I dry my hair before going outside so I am in good shape of not catching a Flu." The Huffington Post suggested, "there’s no scientific evidence that this old myth holds any weight." In all actuality, studies find that "your hair has nothing to do with developing an infection." One less thing to worry about, but remain on heightened alert for other causes of infection.
5. "The Flu Vaccine caused my friend to catch the Flu once." This is a very common story, but chances are that it is inaccurate. Doctors have known for ages that the Flu Vaccine cannot give someone the Flu, but somehow this rumor continues to spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Some people may develop a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches," but not the Flu.
6. "Okay, I will take the Flu Shot and I will be 100% immune to the Flu." As is most things in life - the Flu Shot is not 100%. Dr. Sandra Fryhofer (Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta) mentioned to the Huffington Post that the "Vaccine only covers about 70 to 80 percent of the Flu Viruses that exist in a given season." Still it is typically better to have the Flu Vaccine than not. Also, avoid close contact with people who are sick and wash your hands regularly to further help prevent infections.
7. "Sweat it out!" Exercise will help me get through the Flu Season. This is half true. While exercise will not cure the Flu, remaining active and as fit as possible can assist those with Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis in strengthening their weak immune systems and help prevent getting the Flu.
8. "Well, if I get the Flu, there is nothing I can do about it." Nope. If you happen to catch the Flu, then contact your Dialysis Unit immediately to receive further advice. Also, be sure to stay home as much as possible and rest. Ask your family or friends to do your shopping and important errands for you, and discuss Antiviral Medications with your Nephrologists which may, in some cases, limit the effect of Influenza if they are taken within the first two days of the illness.
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