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Health Tip of the Month: How can you know if you have influenza?

How can you know if you have influenza?

Common symptoms of influenza are fever, headache, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, and a runny nose. Your healthcare provider can swab your nose to detect influenza. Sometimes this may not be needed if you have classic symptoms during flu season.

What is Influenza?

Influenza is a virus that causes the illness known as “the flu.” Flu season is from October to May. Every year, new strains of the virus are slightly different than in previous years. It can be a serious illness that sends tens of thousands of people to the hospital and kills thousands every year in the United States.

How is it spread?

The flu is spread by breathing in the droplets that form when coughing or sneezing, or by touching objects that have been contaminated. It can be spread even by people who aren’t sick yet. Washing your hands often and covering mouth when coughing are important to prevent the spread of the flu.

Can influenza be treated?

The most important treatments for flu are drinking a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration, healthy diet and plenty of rest. There are also medications that can help with symptoms while you are fighting off the virus. There is an antiviral medication that can be used to treat influenza if started early in the illness. Talk to your medical provider.

How can influenza be prevented?

There is a vaccine to help prevent the flu. The vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months old and has to be given every year. If more people get the vaccine we will all be less likely to get sick. It is not possible to get the flu from the flu shot because it does not contain any live viruses. Always wash your hands, and remember that you can spread the virus to other people before you even know that you have it.