Flu Season: What You Need to Know

Although the fall season is full of holiday celebrations it is also the start of influenza season. Now is the time for preparations.

What are the symptoms of Influenza?

Influenza symptoms include fever, sore throat, body aches and headaches. Not all people will develop all symptoms. Most people will recover from influenza within 7-10 days. However, some people can develop pneumonia and other serious complications that can lead to death.

Influenza vs Stomach Flu

It is very common for people to confuse the influenza virus with what is commonly called the “stomach flu”. While there are some similarities between the two, the common stomach flu virus has only gastrointestinal symptoms while influenza affects the respiratory system and only occasionally presents gastrointestinal symptoms.

Who can get Influenza?

While anyone can get influenza and develop complications, people over the age of 65, people with underlying medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, asthma, COPD, hypertension, weakened immune system, pregnant women and infants less than 6 months of age are at the greatest risk.

What can you do to prevent contracting influenza?

Although there are people that contract influenza even though they are diligent with following the recommendations, the steps below may reduce the chances of you or your family members contracting influenza this season.

  • Get your flu shot early in the fall - Although getting your vaccine every year does not guarantee you will not contract influenza it does greatly improve your protection.
  • Wash your hands - Good handwashing does prevent the spread of viruses.
  • Cover your cough - Covering your mouth, not with your bare hand, but with a disposable tissue or the bend of your arm prevents infected particles from traveling through the air.
  • If you are sick stay home - Going to work, school, shopping or gatherings while you are sick increases the chances of spreading influenza to others.
  • If you develop any symptoms that would suggest you have contracted influenza contact your healthcare provider for advice and possible testing.
  • There are medications available that can help lessen the effects of influenza symptoms and shorten the length of time you are sick but must be taken very early in the course of the illness to be effective.
  • When it comes to influenza the best treatment is prevention. Take precautions this season to protect yourself, family, friends, and co-workers from getting sick.