uncomplicated Influenza

What Is Influenza (Flu)?

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It is generally spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or talks. Symptoms usually begin suddenly and may include fever, chills, aching muscles, a headache, and a dry cough. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose. In some cases, influenza can lead to more serious complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

How Is Influenza Treated?

Treatment of the flu may include rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and pain. Influenza can be prevented through vaccinations. The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. The vaccine is especially important for those at high risk of influenza complications. These include people with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, young children, and people over the age of 65.

How Can I Prevent Spreading the Flu?

The best way to prevent the spread of influenza is to practice good hygiene, including:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough with a tissue or the crook of your elbow
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, contact your healthcare provider. You should also seek medical attention if your symptoms become worse. Specific treatment may be recommended if you are at risk of severe complications due to your age or underlying medical conditions.