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This year, face flu season with confidence

This year, face flu season with confidence

Flu season may have started, but it’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones for the coming months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can get the flu any day of the year. Flu season, however, runs from October through May, and most flu activity goes on in December, January and February.

Whenever you get the flu, you should get better in less than two weeks. In rare cases, the flu can leave you with other health problems. Flu complications are more likely for people who are pregnant, over age 65, under age 5 or have other medical conditions.

Flu-related complications may include:

  • Ear infection
  • Heart inflammation
  • Kidney failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus infection

How to recognize flu

Flu, cold and COVID-19 are all respiratory viruses. As a result, it can be hard to know what you have at first. Knowing the symptoms can help.

If you have the flu, you’ll likely experience some or all of the following:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Cough that may get severe
  • Discomfort in your chest
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Fever of 100 F or higher
  • Headache

On top of these symptoms, you may experience vomiting or diarrhea. You may also have a sore throat or a runny nose. A flu test is the only way to be sure your symptoms are caused by the flu.

Sneaking through flu season

While you can’t avoid flu season, you can reduce your risk of getting the virus. Tips to prevent the flu and avoid spreading it to others include:

  • Avoid people who have flu symptoms.
  • Never touch your eyes, mouth or nose during flu season.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue.

Vaccination: your best flu protection

Your best chance at sidestepping influenza activity is with an annual flu shot.

Because there are so many flu viruses, new flu vaccines get developed each year. Researchers pick the four flu viruses most likely to affect you and create a vaccine to protect against those viruses.

Early vaccination is recommended for most people. By getting immunized in September or October, you’re protected for the whole flu season. However, vaccination anytime in the season can help.

An influenza vaccine is safe for most people six months of age or older. If you still wind up with the flu after vaccination, your symptoms probably won’t be as bad as if you hadn’t been vaccinated. They also shouldn’t last as long.

Getting past the flu

Sometimes, you can take all the right precautions and still get sick. If that happens to you during flu season, a few tips can help you recover as quickly as possible.

  • Ask about antiviral medication. If taken within a couple days of your first symptoms, antiviral prescription flu medicines can treat your symptoms and help you get over the flu faster.
  • Contact your provider. Seek medical attention if your flu causes seizures, confusion, breathing problems, or other severe symptoms.
  • Rest and drink. Stay in bed and stay hydrated to help your body recover.
  • Treat the symptoms. Over-the-counter medicines can help ease pain, relieve congestion, and treat diarrhea.

There’s no need to make it through flu season alone. LCMC Health’s primary care is here to help.