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Dr. Michael Omidi, MD – Common Flu Myths and Misconceptions

Dr. Michael Omidi reports on the common flu myths and misconceptions that surround the influenza season.

With so many people suffering from the flu this season there have been many articles in the media discussing what you should and shouldn’t do during the flu season. This can lead to many misconceptions about the flu, what to expect, and how to treat it. Here are some things you should know to help you get through the flu season this year.

  • Coughs Last Longer Than You Think – It has been recently reported by many experts that many people have the mistaken idea that a cough should only last a few days and that if it extends up to and beyond a week that there must be something seriously wrong. Researchers at the University of Georgia recently reviewed medical literature and found that for an acute cough the average duration is typically 17.8 days. This misconception about the duration of a cough has led to many patients requesting stronger antibiotics from their doctors, which in turn can lead to more resistant germs.


  • The Flu Vaccine Can’t Give You the Flu – The belief that you can actually contract the flu from receiving the flu vaccine has led to many people avoiding vaccination. In reality, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. As Christine Hay, MD puts it quite succinctly, “There is simply no way that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. It’s impossible.” It’s impossible because the flu vaccine only contains a dead virus, which cannot infect you. In the case of FluMist, which actually does involve the use of a live virus, it has been designed with parts of the virus removed so that people will not get sick. Oftentimes people mistake side effects associated with the vaccine as flu symptoms or catch a virus unrelated to the one they have been vaccinated for.


  • There Are Treatments for the Flu – While many people believe that there are no treatments effective against the flu, this is untrue. Tamiflu and Relenza will not cure the flu but they will cut short the amount of time you spend laid up by one to two days as well as reduce the amount of time that you are contagious. Both drugs are most effective when taken within the first 48 hours of presentation of flu symptoms, but are still beneficial after this period.

Avoid some of these common misconceptions regarding the flu this season.

By Dr. Michael Omidi, MD

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