Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. People get sick from seasonal flu viruses every year. Flu can cause illness ranging from mild to severe and in some cases can lead to hospitalization and even death. Most people who get the flu will have a fever plus a cough or a fever plus a sore throat. Other symptoms may include a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, a headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. more
What you should do to avoid the flu
Flu vaccine is safe and is the best defense against the flu. Get your flu shot at your doctor's office, at a community clinic, school clinic, or at a pharmacy. (Not all pharmacies vaccinate children. Call ahead before bringing your child to be vaccinated at a pharmacy.) Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year, and it is especially important for people in the following groups to be vaccinated:
Practice good health habits
Flu viruses spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another person. They may also spread when people touch something covered with infected droplets and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel. more
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.
What you should do if you think you have the flu
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have flu-like symptoms (fever plus a cough or fever plus a sore throat), stay home from work, school, or child care until you have been fever-free (temperature less than 100.4 degrees F/38 degrees C) for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid using alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
- Consider using over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve symptoms. Children younger than 19 years old should not be given aspirin to treat the flu.
- Check with your healthcare provider about any special care you might need if you are pregnant or have an underlying health condition.
- Tell your doctor if you've had flu-like symptoms or felt ill after returning from destinations with health travel advisories.
- Consider antiviral medications. Antivirals are prescription medicines used to treat the flu when people are very sick or at high risk of flu-related complications. In order to work, they must be started within 2 days after getting sick. During a pandemic, antivirals may be prioritized for people at high risk of serious flu complications. more