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How to Beat the Flu This Year

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Winter doesn't have to mean getting the flu. Learn how to protect yourself this flu season.

Flu Facts

You've heard the statistics: At least 15 million Americans will get the flu this year; the average person will be so sick she'll miss two days of work. If you're a mom, your chances of getting the flu are particularly high. That's because, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more children come down with the condition than previously believed, which may increase the likelihood that kids are passing the virus to others. The flu also travels quickly in the workplace or anywhere you're in close proximity to other people, such as on a train or plane, or at a party.

For even the healthiest woman, a knockdown, drag-out case of flu can be debilitating. "The virus can get into the large and small airways of the lungs and then turn into a more serious disease, like pneumonia," says Richard P. Wenzel, MD, president of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Each year, more than 200,000 patients end up in the hospital and 36,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus also aggravates other serious diseases that affect women in huge numbers. Research from the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center shows that the flu may trigger inflammation of the plaque in the coronary arteries and can cause thousands of fatal heart attacks and strokes. And it can worsen conditions like asthma and diabetes.

Fortunately, there's one simple move you can make right now to protect yourself: Get the flu shot. Still not convinced you need one -- or what will happen if you don't get the vaccine? Read on for the answers to all your questions.

Next:  Flu Shot Q&A


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