According to the CDC, October marks the beginning of the flu season, although it varies year to year. We know the flu is no fun, but what exactly is the flu? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs. While symptoms such as fever, body aches and a sore throat can range from mild to severe, this illness is not to be taken lightly as it can even lead to death. Read some of our frequently asked questions below to learn how to best protect yourself this flu season:
How should I prepare for the flu season? A yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended as the first and most important step in protecting against the disease. In addition, you can take every day preventative steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs.
When should I get the flu vaccine? As soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. This way you ensure that the protection you get from the vaccination will last throughout the flu season.
Where can I get the flu vaccine? Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers and even in some schools. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get the flu vaccine somewhere else like the health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic or often at school, a college health center or work.
Is there treatment for the flu? Most people only need to self- administer the care they would use for the common cold; rest, lots of liquids and acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever, sore throat or muscle ache. For those in a high risk group (check with your physician) your doctor may want to place you on a drug that can fight the flu infection to prevent potential complications.