We’ve all heard that winter is “Flu Season,” but what is the flu? Who does it affect? How can you prevent the flu? These are all questions you may have to protect yourself and your family best.
Influenza (or the ‘“flu”) is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that can infect the nose, throat, and sometimes even the lungs. It can cause mild illness in most, but in severe cases, it can lead to death. Keep reading to learn more key facts about the flu and how Checkpoint Urgent Care can help you stay healthy.
Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and fiercely. This differs from the common cold, where symptoms develop over time. It’s also important to note that different viruses cause colds and the flu.
Common symptoms can include:
- Fever and chills (although not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body aches or headaches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
Most people with the flu get better on their own, and while sick with the flu, it’s worth noting you may not experience all of these symptoms.
How Long Are You Contagious With The Flu
While sick with the flu, you may spread the virus before you ever feel sick. People are most contagious the first 3-4 days after the illness begins. Some people may start infecting others a full day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Small children and those with weakened immune systems might be able to infect others for even longer than 5-7 days.
Who Can Get Sick With The Flu
On average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets infected with the virus each season. Depending on the season, that number can range from 3% to 11%. That same study produced an interesting finding- “attack rates” were roughly 9.3% in children aged 0-17, 8.8% for adults aged 18-64, and 3.9% for adults aged 65 and older. This means that children are more than twice as likely to develop symptomatic flu than adults over 65.
Is The Flu Seasonal
While seasonal flu viruses are detected year-round in the U.S., they typically circulate during the fall and winter, giving rise to the “flu season.” We usually see the flu start to creep in in October, and activity peaks around December through February. Significant flu activity can last as late as May.