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What is the flu?

Keep your family healthy this flu season.

What is the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness. It’s caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can lead to complications like ear infections or bacterial pneumonia. Sometimes it can lead to hospitalization or even death. It can also make chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, and others worse. Click here for more information.

Flu symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and headaches. Fever is another symptom, but not everyone with the flu gets a fever. Some people also have vomiting and diarrhea. This is more common in children than adults.

How can I protect myself and others from the flu?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to stop the spread of other respiratory illnesses like the flu. Flu season begins in October and can last through May. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Flu shots help reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious complications. It can also help reduce the severity of the flu even if you do catch it.

Even if you don’t feel sick, it’s important to stop the possible spread of the flu. If you do get the flu, you’re most contagious for the first three to four days. This is usually before you start showing symptoms.

There are ways to protect yourself and others from the flu in addition to getting the flu shot. Washing your hands frequently can help. Covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze can also help. But the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Talk to your doctor about getting your flu shot. If you don’t have a doctor and need help finding one, call us at 866-833-5717.

How do I know if it’s the flu, a cold, or COVID-19?

All three are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because some of the symptoms are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. You may need a test to confirm a diagnosis.

Commons symptoms that the flu and COVID-19 both have are:

  • Fever (or feeling feverish/chills)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (this is more common in children than in adults)

Click here for more information.