What you need to know about the flu.
The flu is more than a bad cold. For several days, people can suffer with fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. Each year, influenza causes thousands of deaths and hospitalizations. People with long-term health conditions are especially at risk. The best way to prevent flu is to get a flu vaccine.
Good health practices help stop flu.
- Wash your hands frequently or used hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
Flu signs and symptoms
- Fever over 100.4°F or feeling feverish/chills.
- Sore throat.
- Runny or stuffy nose.
- Muscle or body aches.
- Vomiting or diarrhea (sometimes).
You can treat the flu with medicine if you get to the doctor early. The medications work best when you begin treatment within 48 hours of flu onset. Treatment can ease symptoms and reduce the risk of complications and death.
Ask your doctor for treatment options for anyone who is two weeks old or older.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine. Everyone six months and older needs a flu vaccine each year. You can get a flu vaccine at your doctor's office or local pharmacy. To find a flu vaccine provider near you, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
When to get vaccinated
You can get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available in the late summer or early fall. It is best to get vaccine before flu starts circulating. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine later in the season.
If a household member has the flu, medications are available to prevent you from getting sick.
Getting the flu can be dangerous. You may be at risk for complications if any of the following describe you:
- Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years.
- Adults 65 years and older.
- American Indian and Alaska Native people.
- Pregnant women and those who gave birth within the last two weeks.
- Chronic lung disease (e.g. asthma, COPD).
- Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, stroke, etc.)
- Weakened immune system due to disease or medications.
- Blood disorders (like sickle cell disease).
- Kidney or liver disorders.
- Morbid obesity (extremely overweight).
- Residents of long-term care facilities including nursing homes.
- People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy.
- Asthma: Influenza can trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms worse.
- Heart Disease: People with influenza can experience an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- Pregnancy: Flu can cause severe illness in pregnant women. It can cause serious problems for unborn babies, including premature labor and delivery.
- A mother's flu shot can protect her unborn baby from influenza.