The flu can be a very serious disease. In fact, the flu can hospitalize up to several hundred thousand people in the United States per year. But by following a few simple suggestions, you can help fight the spread of this disease.
Yearly flu shots are the most important step in protecting yourself against this disease.
- The flu shot fights a different group of flu viruses every year. Make sure to be vaccinated each year.
- Flu shots are especially important for young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease.
- Yearly flu shots should begin soon after the flu vaccine is available, and ideally by October. However, getting vaccinated even later can be protective, as long as flu viruses are circulating.
Stop the spread of germs
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap often, especially before you eat. If you can’t get to a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may harbor flu germs.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Eat a balanced diet to keep your immune system stay healthy. Consume lean proteins (chicken or fish), fruits and vegetables to get the vitamins and nutrients you need.
- Get enough exercise.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (feeling tired)
- Vomiting or diarrhea
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense.
Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
So you have the flu…
Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting? If you’re experiencing most of these symptoms, you might have the flu. So, what should you do?
In most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people for at least 24 hours after your fever has subsided without the help of fever reducers. Remember to get plenty of rest and drink fluids. If you must leave home to get medical care, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and wash your hands often. You should wear a mask upon entering your doctor's office to protect other people around you from getting sick.
Treat your fever
An adult is considered feverish if his or her oral temperature is above 100º F or rectal temperature is above 100.7º F. If the fever is 102º F or higher:
- Take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as directed on the label.
- Take a lukewarm sponge bath.
- Wear light clothing or use a light blanket. Overdressing can increase your temperature.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
If you are concerned about your infant or child’s fever, call your child's physician for the appropriate guidance.
Contact your health care provider
If you have flu-like symptoms and are in a high risk group
or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. He or she can determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed. Seek medical help immediately if you have:
- A history of serious illness such as AIDS, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, or if you are taking immunosuppressant drugs.
- A high fever that doesn't respond to fever-reducing medicine.
- A stiff neck, are confused or have trouble staying awake
- Severe pain in your lower abdomen
- Severe stomach pain, vomit repeatedly or have severe diarrhea
- Skin rashes, blisters or a red streak on an arm or leg
- A severe sore throat, severe swelling of the throat or a persistent earache
- Pain with urination, back pain or shaking chills.
- A severe cough, cough up blood or have trouble breathing