What is influenza?
Influenza, or more commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat, and lungs. The flu is highly contagious — in fact, it can be spread from as far as six feet away. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, tiny droplets of the flu leave their body and land in the mouths or noses of someone nearby — who then inhales the virus and becomes infected.
People with the flu are most contagious within the first three to four days after their illness begins. However, it’s still possible to infect others before symptoms develop, and even as long as a week after being sick. Although flu seasons are unpredictable and vary in severity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5-20% of the U.S. population gets the flu each year on average, tens of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands die from flu-related illnesses.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
At first, the flu may seem like a common cold — runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. The difference between a common cold and the flu are the onset of symptoms. Colds develop slowly, and the flu tends to come on suddenly with more severe symptoms than a cold. Signs of the flu include a fever of over 100.4°F, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headaches, dry and persistent coughing, fatigue and weakness, nasal congestion, and sore throat.
How does ID Care diagnose the flu?
ID Care physicians use their specialized expertise to diagnose the flu after providing a thorough physical examination of your symptoms. In some cases, we do recommend testing for the flu. And although rapid influenza diagnostic testing (RIDT) has been a traditionally popular method to diagnose the flu, this form of testing isn’t always reliable and often results in false negatives.
What are the treatments for flu?
Usually, the best way to treat the flu is with plenty of rest and even more liquids — especially those that are rich in electrolytes, such as sports drinks. ID Care physicians may also prescribe antiviral medications such as Tamiflu to help shorten the length of your illness and prevent other complications.
How can I protect myself from catching the flu?
The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year at any ID Care location. We offer a range of the most effective flu vaccines available today for people of all ages. Our flu vaccines are updated annually to help ensure you receive the best vaccine for you.