I was talking to my mother the other day and she told me that she had already had the “flu” this year. Upon further questioning, it turned out that she had a gastrointestinal illness for a day or two. A couple days later when I was working in the hospital Emergency Department, the paramedics called to say that they were bringing in a patient who had “flu-like symptoms”.
It also turned out that she had a gastrointestinal illness. So obviously there is much confusion, even in the medical world, about what the “flu” is.
The REAL flu is a virus called influenza.
When you contract influenza, you get “cold-like symptoms”: stuffy nose, joint aches, headache, coughing, fever and fatigue. It often seems like a cold except that you feel a LOT worse and it generally comes on VERY quickly.When people get a “flu vaccine”, they are getting vaccinated against THIS virus- Influenza. When the news reports on the Avian flu or Swine Flu it is THIS virus that they are talking about.
Now, when you get a gastrointestinal illness, usually accompanied by diarrhea and often nausea and vomiting, this is NOT influenza, but likely some other virus… possibly the Norovirus.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It often goes through a household or office with EVERYONE getting it very quickly. Many people think that they have food poisioning when they get the norovirus.
But it is NOT the flu!!
There is no vaccine to prevent you from getting this uncomfortable gastrointestinal problem. I hope that clears up any confusion about the flu for anyone who thought that gastrointestinal problems were somehow related to the influenza vaccine or the Bird Flu.
However, these two viruses ARE LINKED!
A poor immune system is responsible for BOTH of these diseases. While yes, they are “contagious”, you need not CATCH them from other people if your immune system is “bulletproof”. It is a MYTH that someone else GIVES you a cold, the flu or the norovirus- YOU give it to yourself by not being able to fight it off. While you DO have to have exposure to the virus (although even that is debatable by some scientists), you do NOT have to catch it.
You know how some people seem to always avoid getting the ‘office bug’ or have never missed a day of work in 20 years? That is not some fluke, that person’t immune system has the same potential that YOURS does, but they are actually USING their potential.
It takes some lifestyle changes and habit changes that are not always easy for people to do, but having a “bulletproof” immune system is an attainable goal- one that should actually be considered “normal” rather than spectacular.