Stay Healthy This Winter
What is the flu (influenza)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that circulate every year. Illness caused by flu viruses can range from mild to severe. In the United States, flu season is in the fall and winter.
What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?
Influenza illness typically happens suddenly, and may include some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
How is the flu spread?
Influenza is spread by droplets made when people infected with flu cough, sneeze or talk.
If you have been infected with influenza, you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as up to five to seven days after becoming sick. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about one to four days, with an average of two days.
Remember to Cover Your Cough!
How do I prevent getting the flu?
Get vaccinated! Getting a flu shot every year is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Other everyday precautions to prevent the spread of germs includes avoiding contact with sick people, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and frequent handwashing with soap and water.
Why do I need a flu shot every year?
Flu viruses can change or mutate over time, and new strains of flu virus can emerge. The influenza vaccine is developed every year to target the current circulating viruses.
Are some people at high risk from the flu?
Even healthy people can get the flu, but people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at high risk for complications from flu. People over age 65, pregnant women and young children also are at high risk.
What is the difference between the flu and a cold?
|Signs and Symptoms||Influenza||Cold|
|Fever||Usual; lasts 3-4 days||Rare|
|Aches||Usual; often severe||Slight|
|Chest Discomfort, Cough||Common; can be severe||Mild to moderate; hacking cough|
What should I do if I think I have the flu?
Most people with the flu have mild illness that will resolve in a few days with rest and treatment with over-the-counter medications for symptom relief. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people unless you need medical care.
If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high-risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. You may be prescribed an antiviral medication.
Where can I get more information about flu?
Check the Centers for Disease Control website for more information or contact your health care provider.