Influenza - The Flu
Commonly known as the flu, influenza is a virus that infects the trachea (windpipe) or bronchi (breathing tubes). Symptoms come on suddenly and include high fever, chills, severe muscle aches and headache. The onset of shaking chills is often so dramatic that many people will remember the exact hour that it started. The virus also causes runny nose and a cough that can last for weeks. Complications of influenza include severe, and occasionally fatal, pneumonia.
How to Prevent the Flu
- Get a seasonal flu shot.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cough into your elbow or a tissue (and place the used tissue in the trash).
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces often (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, water faucets) with a household disinfectant.
- Avoid contact with people who have the flu, when possible.
How to Know if You have the Flu
Unlike a cold, which comes on slowly, the flu comes on fast. Usual flu symptoms include fever of more than 100 degrees F and one or more of the following:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
How to treat the flu
- Stay at home from work, school and public events for at least 24 hours after your fever (100 degrees F or more) goes away without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Take medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever, headaches and body aches.
- Children often need help keeping their fever under control. Follow instructions from your child’s doctor.
- Antibiotics will not help a person recover from the flu because the flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria.
- Seek medical attention if experiencing difficulty breathing; confusion or dizziness; chest or abdominal pain/pressure; persistent vomiting; change in skin color to bluish or gray; or if you are under the age of 5 (or over the age of 65); are pregnant or have a chronic medical condition.
More information is available at www.cdc.gov/flu.
Information provided by the CDC.