What is the flu?
The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that impacts the air passages in your lungs.
What causes the flu and how does it spread?
- The flu is caused by a virus with multiple strains that continuously change.
- The virus spreads through sneezes/coughs in the air or touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after handling an infected object.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
- Coughing that becomes severe
- Long lasting fatigue
- Extreme exhaustion
- Headache and total body aches
- High fever
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Severe aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea
The flu and its symptoms can lead to complications! The most common complication of the flu is pneumonia. Significant breathing problems and other severe symptoms may require hospital treatment and can potentially lead to death.
How can I avoid the flu?
It's simple, get the vaccine because it's not too late! Getting the vaccine every year is important for everyone 6 months and older, especially for those with a higher risk for flu complications.
Higher risk individuals include:
- Children under 5 years old
- Adults 65 years old and above
- Those with long-term and chronic health conditions
- Anyone who lives in a nursing home or care facility
- Women who are pregnant or have given birth in the last 2 weeks
Flu vaccine facts
- It's usually administered in a shot but it can also be given in a nasal spray.
- It's completely safe and it's your best defense against catching the flu.
- The flu shot can't give you the flu. This is because the vaccine is made from non-infectious pieces of dead virus cells, not the live cells that can make you sick.
- After receiving the vaccine you may experience some mild, flu-like side effects. These side effects are not the same as having the actual flu.
- When you get the flu vaccine, your body reacts and makes antibodies that give you immunity that protects you from getting the flu.
- You should get vaccinated every year because the flu virus is constantly mutating and the vaccine changes every year based on the predicted strains.
Other prevention steps
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating.
- Avoid putting your hands near your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- When possible, avoid or limit contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean surfaces in the home that others may touch.
- Avoid touching surfaces and objects previously handled by sick people.