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Flu season is approaching. Stay safe and healthy with these tips and resources!
Protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu. Use the resources below to help prevent it.
Influenza (also called “the flu”) is a viral infection in the nose, throat, and lungs. About 10% to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Some people can get very sick and even die from the flu.
The flu may cause fever, a cough, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, muscle aches, and tiredness. Most people feel better after 1 to 2 weeks. However, for some people, the flu leads to serious diseases, such as pneumonia and even death.
Who is at higher risk of complications from the flu?
The following people have a higher risk of flu complications:
- Young children, especially those younger than two years of age
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- All women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
- People who are living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- Individuals who have long-term health problems
Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
Are there any vitamins or supplements I can take to reduce my chances of getting the flu?
- When is it too late in the year to get the flu vaccine?
- Should I still get the flu vaccine if I’ve already had the flu?
- What side effects might come with the flu vaccine?
- Should I get the flu vaccine if I’ve ever had a reaction to a flu shot?
- If I decide not to get the flu vaccine, does that put me at risk for any complications if I later get the flu?
- Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
- For flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Fever should be gone without the need to use a fever-reducing medicine. Note that the stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different. Learn about some of the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19.
Cold and flu season often begins in October as the weather outside starts to turn cold. It can last until May. Each year, it’s important to prepare and protect your family from these illnesses. While, the cold and the flu are similar, they’re two different conditions. They’re both caused by viruses that are contagious. The cold is often mild, starts slow, and can last longer. The flu is often more severe, appears suddenly, and lasts 3 to 7 days. If you got a flu shot, it lasts only 2 to 4 days and had milder symptoms.
The best way to protect against the flu is to get the seasonal flu vaccine. You can get the vaccine at your doctor’s office, at a local pharmacy, or at the health department.
The flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk for flu-related complications. This includes:
- Children younger than 2 years of age
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding
- People who have cancer or a weak immune system
- People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- People who work in a health care setting or are caregivers
Chronic health conditions can increase your risk of being hospitalized with influenza (the flu). A recent study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that severe illness from the flu is more likely among adults who have specific chronic medical conditions compared with those who do not. This is because chronic conditions may leave your body too weak to fight the flu. The higher your risk of flu complications, the more important it is that you get an annual flu vaccine. It’s the best way to protect yourself from the flu.
The flu vaccine is safe. There are very few side effects. After receiving the flu shot, your arm may be sore for a few days. You may have a low-grade fever, feel tired, or have sore muscles for a short time. If you received the nasal spray vaccine, you may have a runny nose, headache, cough, or sore throat.
Questions to ask your doctor:
- Can I get the flu vaccine?
- How do I know if I have the flu?
- Am I at higher risk for flu complications?
- What else can I do to protect myself from the flu?
- What should I do if I have the flu?
- Is it too late for me to get the flu shot?
- Can I get the flu shot if I’m not feeling well?
- Are there any vitamins of herbal remedies for the flu?
The best way to prevent the influenza virus is by getting an influenza vaccination each year. Other methods you can take to help prevent influenza include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick in your home. Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others outside of your home.
- Stay at home when you are sick.
Check out our Flu Vaccine Toolkit to Assist Businesses in Preventing Flu at Work
The flu, or influenza, is a viral infection. It occurs in your respiratory (breathing) area, and affects your throat, lungs, and nose. There are a lot of myths surrounding the flu. A myth is something that a group of people has come to believe is true, but it is not.
Myth: The flu is the same thing as a cold, and it is harmless.
It is common to confuse the flu with a cold. Both have similar symptoms and often treated with similar methods. However, colds are mild and last longer. The flu usually occurs suddenly and lasts 2 to 3 days. The flu also is contagious and can be dangerous.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever of 102°F or higher.
- Chills and sweats.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Muscle aches and headaches.
- Chest pain.
- Stuffy nose.
- Loss of appetite.
Myth: You won’t get the flu if you get the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine helps to prevent the flu. Every year, its purpose is to protect you from the main types of influenza. However, you still can get the flu. You could have been infected with the flu before you got the vaccine. You also could get another type of flu that the vaccine does not cover. Most likely, you will have a milder case than if you hadn’t gotten the flu shot.
There are other things you can do to lower your risk of getting the flu. These include:
- Washing your hands often.
- Covering your mouth when you sneeze and cough.
- Using household cleaning spray to disinfect surfaces and objects.
- Using hand sanitizer.
- Washing laundry of sick people separate from other items.
- Keeping your children, especially newborns, away from anyone who is sick.
Questions to ask your doctor:
- Is it okay to get the flu vaccine at grocery stores and drug stores?
- Does having asthma increase your risk of getting the flu?
- What’s the difference between the flu and a respiratory infection?