Get the Flu Facts
Are you worried about getting the flu this year? Here is a guide to how it spreads, who is most at risk and how to prevent it. Knowing the facts on the flu will help you stay healthy this season!
How the Flu Spreads
Experts believe the flu spreads through droplets from infected sick person’s nose or mouth that become airborne when that person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
It can also spread when a sick person touches objects like tables, doorknobs or desks. The virus can live on such surfaces for up to two hours. If another person touches the surface and then puts their hand near their mouth or nose, they can get the flu. Since it takes one to four days for the symptoms to appear, a sick person can spread the virus before they know they have it.
Flu symptoms usually include sore throat, fever, headache, runny nose, congestion, cough, and body aches. The symptoms usually are the worst for the first three or four days, but it can take up to two weeks to get completely better.
People most at risk
We are all at risk for getting the flu. However, some people are at higher risk of complications from the flu. High risk populations include:
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- Older adults (age 50 and older)
- Individuals with long term illness
- Individuals with impaired immune systems
Tips for Flu Prevention
The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. It’s especially important that health care workers and anyone that has contact with individuals at a higher risk of problems with the flu get vaccinated.
Even with vaccination, it’s important to protect yourself. Other protection measures include:
- Avoid contact with infected persons
- Stay home when you are sick
- Clean your hands
- Avoid touching the mouth, eyes, or nose
- Live a healthy lifestyle including eating a nutritious diet, sleeping well, and exercising
Treating the Flu
If you come down with the flu, treatment usually consists of rest, drinking plenty of liquids, and taking medications to relieve the symptoms. In some cases, you may need more advanced treatment if symptoms are more severe or turn to pneumonia or the symptoms impact a preexisting condition. Always follow your doctor’s care plan and recommendations and take all prescriptions as prescribed, even when feeling better.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Key Facts About the Flu: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
UPMC Patient Education: http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/infection-control/Pages/the-flu-and-how-to-avoid-it.aspx