What is influenza (flu)?
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses A and B. It can cause mild to severe cases of fever, body aches, headache, sore throat and coughing, and can even lead to death.
How is the flu spread?
Flu is most widely spread through tiny droplets when people sneeze, talk or cough, but it can also be transferred by touching something that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
What are some signs and symptoms of the flu?
Some common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Achy muscles
- Runny/stuffy nose
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Children under 4 years of age, pregnant women and adults 50 and older are most at risk for getting the flu, but everyone six months and older, including those who are in perfect health and show no symptoms, should get the flu vaccine each year.
How can you protect yourself from the flu?
It is critical that you protect yourself and others from the flu. Because the flu is spread person to person both through air and through surface contact, follow these three guidelines:
- Wash your hands when they have come into contact with surfaces in public areas and after you’ve shaken hands with someone. Make sure your hands are clean before touching your face or eating. Here’s how to wash your hands the right way.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent spreading germs to others. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or use a tissue; afterwards, dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.
- Stay home when you are sick to avoid coming into contact with others.
For more information about the flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
This article is sponsored by LifeBridge Health.