Influenza, or flu, viruses are detected in the United States year-round, but they tend to circulate much more prominently during the fall and winter months. This time of year is known as flu season. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the flu and flu season this year.
When Is Flu Season?
The timing of flu season varies from year to year. However, seasonal flu activity tends to increase around the middle of October, marking the beginning of flu season. Flu season typically peaks between December and February, with the largest number of cases most often occurring in February. Flu season then typically continues until around May. Because flu season varies from year to year, it’s difficult to predict exactly when this year’s flu season will peak.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
The flu is an infectious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that circulate most rapidly during flu season when everyone is spending more time indoors. People who are infected with the flu often exhibit a combination of various symptoms. Symptoms may change as the illness progresses. Depending on the health of an individual, some of these symptoms have the potential to cause serious complications that can lead to hospitalization or even death. Here is a list of symptoms associated with the flu:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Eye pain
- Some people may also experience vomiting or diarrhea; however this is more common in children
Many of the most common symptoms of the flu may seem like a cold. However, colds tend to start slowly while the flu comes on quickly. The flu also tends to make you feel much worse than a cold.
What Is the Treatment for the Flu?
Many people who catch the flu are able to treat themselves at home without seeking care from a healthcare provider. Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, getting lots of sleep and rest, and taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever and help with muscle aches or headaches. Stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine so you can avoid spreading the virus to others. Most people will feel better within about a week of becoming infected with the flu, but coughs may last up to a week or two after that.
It may be necessary to see a doctor if you have severe symptoms or other medical conditions that put you at high risk of complications from the flu. People who may be at high risk include individuals who are:
- Under 5 years of age
- Over 65 years of age
- Receiving chemotherapy
- Living with a weakened immune system
- Living with other chronic illnesses
How Can I Avoid Catching the Flu?
There are a few steps you can take to avoid getting sick this flu season. Wash your hands regularly throughout the day to remove the flu virus and other germs from your hands. Avoid being around people who are sick or exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, as these are common points of entry for germs like the flu virus. Drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious diet can also help you stay healthy this flu season. One of the best ways, however, to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccine. Annual flu vaccines are safe and effective in protecting individuals from getting the flu or experiencing dangerous complications from the flu.
Protect Yourself This Flu Season with a Flu Vaccine
It is recommended that anyone over the age of 6 months should receive an annual flu vaccine to lower the risk of getting sick with the flu. You can find out more about flu vaccines and how they can protect you and those around you from getting sick this flu season. If you are interested in getting a flu shot, reach out to us at Village Discount Drugs and we will be happy to help!