Blog 2/4/2018

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season


Flu season is well underway across the United States. There’s widespread flu activity in 49 states at this time.

Experts believe the flu virus is spread when a sick person talks, sneezes or coughs. Common symptoms include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Despite these painful symptoms, most people will recover in less than two weeks.

Here a few frequently asked Questions:

What should I do to protect myself from flu this season?

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.
  • In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness.

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

  • Seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May.
  • Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

What happens in the body when someone has the flu?

  • Influenza viruses usually infect the airways of the nose, throat and lungs. As the infection increases, the body’s immune system responds to fight the virus infection.
  • This results in inflammation that can trigger respiratory symptoms such as cough and sore throat, can also trigger fever and cause muscle or body aches. When infected persons cough, they can spread influenza viruses in respiratory droplets to someone next to them; persons can also become infected through contact with infectious secretions or contaminated surfaces.
  • Most people who become sick will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may become more severely ill.

What should I do if I get sick with the flu?

  • Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs.
  • If you have flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
  • If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider.
  • There are drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu called “antivirals.” These drugs can make you better faster and may prevent serious complications.

Flu season started early this year, and while we could be at peak flu right now, public health officials anticipate flu viruses will circulate for a few more months. In the meantime, there are other, even simpler, things you can do to mitigate your risk of getting the flu and, if you do get sick, spreading the virus to others. They include good old-fashioned hand-washing, covering your mouth when you cough and staying home if you’re sick.

Source: Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)  Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs

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