Influenza and Prevention

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. Signs and symptoms of the flu usually start suddenly, not gradually: Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus and infected to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. Everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand washing can slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses.

Every flu season is different. The influenza viral infection will affect people differently.   An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect you against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

Get your flu vaccine at Tower Health Urgent Care today, no appointment needed.

Lisa Diegel MSN, CRNP

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