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2019-2020 Influenza (Flu) Season
- Take time to get a flu vaccine - The CDC urges you to get a flu vaccine. Vaccination is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and others against infection.
- Take every day preventative actions to stop the spread of germs - Cover your cough; practice good hand hygiene using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, avoid close contact with sick people, and if you get sick, limit your contact with others.
- Take the flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them - It will reduce the length of illness and reduce the risk of transmitting it to others.
For more about this season's flu virus and guidance for treatment and prevention, go to the CDC website for the latest information.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu.
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms 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. Flu can have very serious associated complications. (Source: CDC).
Here are some helpful resources on preventing and treating influenza.