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What Is Brain Flu? Influenza Virus Exposed! [2019]

September 20, 2019


– I’m Dr. Frita. In the reality show Ready to Love, one of the handsome,
charismatic, eligible bachelors was recently diagnosed with brain flu, according to his mother. And in another reality
show, Married to Medicine, one of the young,
energetic physicians shared that he was diagnosed
with viral meningitis. Ever since these episodes have aired, I have been getting questions
from patients, family members, and nosy friends who love
to binge watch reality TV, asking me, what exactly is the brain flu? And asking, can a perfectly healthy person really get viral meningitis? Well, in today’s video, I’m going to discuss brain
flu, the influenza virus. I’ll talk about the flu shot. Should you get it, should you not? And I’ll also touch on viral meningitis. Keep watching. (bright music) If you’ve been watching the
show Ready to Love like I have, then you have no doubt been
pulled into the charming, humorous, genuine personality
of one of the bachelors, Alex. If you watch the show, you will see that Alex looks
like the picture of health. His mother recently announced, however, that Alex was diagnosed with brain flu after being infected with
the influenza B virus. What is brain flu? Brain flu is a very rare
neurological complication of the influenza virus. It can lead to altered mental status and other neurological symptoms. What is influenza? Influenza is a highly contagious virus, and it’s most commonly spread
during the winter months. So, in the United States, that’s
between November and April. It can be spread by respiratory droplets. So if someone who is infected
with influenza coughs or sneezes and their droplets get on you, then you can be infected
if you breathe them in, or if their infected droplets
get on a hard surface or any other surface, then you can also get influenza that way. What are the symptoms of influenza? The symptoms include fever, headaches, chills, myalgias or muscle aches. In short, people who are
infected with the influenza virus often describe it as feeling
like they’ve been run over by a Mack truck. You just have severe body aches and it can be quite debilitating. Who is at risk for complications
of the influenza virus? Well, children who are very young, less than six months, are at high risk. Also, patients who are
older than the age of 65. Pregnant women are at high
risk for complications from the influenza
virus, as well as people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, asthma. Immunocompromised patients
or patients on chemotherapy, for example, are also at
higher risk for complications of the influenza virus. That being said, healthy patients can also develop complications
of the influenza virus. What are the complications of
the influenza virus, the flu? Pneumonia, or infection of the
airways, is a complication. Also, myositis, or inflammation
and pain of the muscles, can be a complication. Rhabdomyolysis is another
complication of the flu, and this is when muscle cells
are actually broken down, and you can actually
develop kidney failure from rhabdomyolysis. Other complications of
influenza include heart problems such as pericarditis,
which is an inflammation of the sac that is surrounding the heart. You can even find that heart
attacks can be associated with the influenza virus. Also, you can get central
nervous system complications from the influenza virus, or brain flu. Some of the central nervous complications include encephalopathy, when you get an altered mental status or confusion, or encephalitis, where
there’s actually an infection or an inflammation of the brain. Aseptic meningitis is another
potential complication of the central nervous system
associated with influenza, and this meningitis occurs
when there is an infection or an inflammation of
the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. Even though the influenza virus can certainly cause a meningitis, you can also get a viral meningitis from viruses other than influenza,
such as the enterovirus. On the show Married to Medicine, the ER physician, Dr.
Aydin, actually shared that he was diagnosed
with viral meningitis. Now with viral meningitis,
you can get that by just being around someone
who passes you a virus, whether they sneeze on
you or cough on you, or if they’re just in close proximity. If you develop viral meningitis, the symptoms usually consist of fever, a severe headache, as
well as a stiff neck. Now with viral meningitis, in
order for it to be diagnosed, you need to have a lumbar
puncture, or spinal tap, and that’s to make sure that there’s no actual bacteria involved. If indeed your meningitis
is caused by a virus, then the treatment is simply symptomatic. You treat the symptoms, you
make sure there’s no fever, you make sure the patient stays hydrated. Antibiotics do not actually
help with viral meningitis. Antibiotics only help if
there’s a bacteria involved. Fortunately with Dr. Aydin, as we see in the episodes
of Married to Medicine, fortunately he actually recovers
from his viral meningitis, and we see that he’s even
able to host the party along with his wife,
Mariah, Doctors on the Dock. So, that’s beautiful and
certainly we pray for him and wish him the best. Now back to the brain flu. The brain flu is
associated with influenza, so how can influenza be prevented? Well, the most effective way to prevent the influenza virus is through the influenza vaccination, or through the flu shot. Now there are several
strains of influenza. There’s influenza type A, type B, type C. There’s bird flu, there’s swine flu. So in addition to being vaccinated in order to prevent the flu, you also need to practice safe
infection control measures such as washing your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze. The flu vaccination can
actually decrease your chances of getting influenza by 60 to 70%, and even by up to 80%
according to some studies. By decreasing your chances of
getting the influenza virus, you have now decreased your risk of getting these complications of the flu, and even death from the flu. It’s interesting. We now live in a world where because we have
had so many vaccinations and we’ve decreased the influenza virus, we sometimes forget that the
flu actually does kill people, and it does cause major complications. Back in 1918, there was a major pandemic caused by the influenza virus,
and 70 million people died. The influenza virus is very, very serious, and even though that
vaccination is not perfect, the flu shot is not perfect, right now, it is the best thing we have, it is the most effective way
to prevent getting the flu. What are the recommendations for the influenza vaccine, the flu shot? According to the CDC, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the influenza vaccine should be received by all patients older than the
age of six months every year. The reason the influenza vaccine is recommended to be given every year is because the strains
of influenza change, and so the manufacturers
of the flu vaccine actually come up with
the strains of the flu that are most likely to
infect the population, and they put these strains together in a manner in which they
can be injected into patients so that patients can build up
an immunity against the flu, therefore preventing getting the flu, preventing death from the flu, preventing the complications of the flu. Now, I encounter a lot
of patients and friends who say that they just
don’t want the flu vaccine. And again, I do acknowledge that the influenza vaccine is not perfect. Some of the reasons I get for people not wanting the
flu shot is they might say, Dr. Frita, every time I get the flu shot, it gives me the flu. Well, the flu shot does
not actually cause the flu. For most people, the flu
vaccine that they’ve received is a version of a dead flu vaccine that’s injected into the muscle. Now, this flu shot can make
you have flu-like symptoms. It can make you feel sick briefly, but that’s just your immune system doing what the vaccination
is supposed to make it do. It’s your immune system starting to rev up so that you’ll be able to
defend yourself from influenza. But this brief sickness that you may get from the flu vaccine in no way compares to
the illness you will have if you actually get the flu. By getting the flu vaccination, there is still a small chance
that you can develop the flu, but if you do get the flu, guaranteed, your influenza
illness will be milder, you won’t get the same complications, and you are not likely to die from the flu if you get the flu shot. I have other patients who tell me that they don’t get the flu shot because they’ve never gotten the flu shot, and they have never gotten the flu. Well, that’s wonderful. That’s absolutely lucky
and blessed of them to have not gotten the flu. However, for people who are
actually infected with the flu, it takes about two days
before you develop symptoms. Now, if you’re a healthy
person and you get the flu, then you really may just have
a mild course of the disease, and then you’re fine. But imagine for those two days
when you have no symptoms, if you come in contact with
a baby or an elderly person or someone with a chronic illness or someone who’s immune compromised. You stand the risk of
spreading the influenza virus to these vulnerable people, while you do well just
because you’re healthy. So basically, another reason for getting the influenza vaccine could be to help to protect others. Basically, the influenza
virus, or the flu, is a highly contagious virus that can cause complications
like the brain flu, and it can even cause
death, and right now, the best prevention we have
against it is the flu shot. Make sure that you are well
read, and consult your physician on whether or not you
should get a flu shot. Just be sure to make an informed decision. Personally, I get my influenza
vaccination every year. This ends my overview of
the brain flu, influenza, the flu shot, and viral meningitis. Please like my video,
please share my video, and if you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to my page. If you’ve ever suffered
with the influenza virus, or if you have an experience that you’ve had with the flu
shot that you’d like to share, please comment down below. I want to hear from you. As always, I want you
to prioritize yourself. Take care of you. Do your best to live your
healthiest, happiest life. Thank you for watching. I’m Dr. Frita.

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