Tips on Staying Healthy
1. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
2. Practice respiratory etiquette by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze.
3. Know the signs and symptoms of the flu.
4. Stay home if you have the flu or flu-like illness for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever.
5. Talk to your health care providers about whether you should be vaccinated for seasonal flu.
Signs and symptoms of the flu
Influenza (commonly called the 'flu') is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The information below describes common flu symptoms, how to protect yourself and those close to you from getting the flu, and what to do if you get sick with flu-like symptoms.
Be Aware of Common Flu Symptoms
Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:
- Fever (usually high)
- Tiredness (can be extreme)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children)
Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms.
Diagnosing the Flu
It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of symptoms alone. A doctor's exam may be needed to tell whether you have developed the flu or a complication of the flu. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu as long as you are tested within the first 2 or 3 days of illness.
If you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about your illness, especially if you are high-risk for complications of the flu, you should consult your healthcare provider. Those at high risk for complications include people 65 years or older, people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.
Know the Risks from the Flu
In some people, the flu can cause serious complications, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. Children and adults may develop sinus problems and ear infections.
People May Have Different Reactions to the Flu
The flu can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Although most healthy people recover from the flu without complications, some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease) are at risk for serious complications from the flu.
Know How the Flu Spreads
The flu usually spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets when people who are infected cough or sneeze. People occasionally may become infected by touching something with influenza virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. Healthy adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms and up to 5 days after getting sick. Therefore, it is possible to give someone the flu before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick.