Influenza (aka. the flu)
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is not the same as a cold, although they share many of the same symptoms. Unlike the common cold, an episode of the flu can cause a very severe illness. Serious outcomes of a flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Young children and seniors are at the greatest risk for serious flu complications.
People with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away. Most experts think flu viruses are spread mainly by airborne droplets created when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
The best way to reduces chances in catching the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
- The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
- Flu vaccines CANNOT cause the flu.
- Flu vaccines are safe.
When should you seek medical attention for the flu?
Antiviral medications can be an effective option for treating the flu. However, treatment will be most effective within the first 48-hour of onset of symptoms. Symptoms may include fever, aches, chills, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, chest discomfort, headaches and more. If you are experiencing an abrupt onset of the listed symptoms, seeking medical attention for antiviral medications may be a good option for you.
You should also seek medical attention if you experience a fever over 102F, intense ear ache, or a cough that lasts for more than 10 days.