Flu Season: Are You at Risk?

Although each flu season is different, each year 5 to 20 percent of the population will get the flu. Of those who get the flu, between 3,000 and 49,000 will die from it or from complications, with more than 90 percent of deaths occurring in people over 65. 


"It's very important to avoid touching your eyes and your nose and mouth without cleaning your hands first." -Jim Rockhill, Infection Preventionist, Lakeland Health

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. It usually starts quickly, with fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a dry cough. People of all ages can get the flu. Although most people are ill with the flu for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza can also lead to pneumonia and death.

Influenza viruses continually change. Because the virus changes, people can get the flu no matter what their age. 

What causes the flu?

The influenza virus is generally passed from person to person through the air - when an infected person sneezes or coughs. But the virus can also live for a short time on objects like doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So, you can also get the flu by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The following are the most common symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Fatigue or feeling very tired
  • Sometimes a sore throat

What is the treatment for the flu?

Treatment may include:

  • Medications to relieve aches and fever
  • Medications for congestion and nasal discharge
  • Bed rest and increased intake of fluids
  • Antiviral medications. When started within the first 2 days of treatment, they can reduce how long you'll have the flu and the severity of symptoms.

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© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2019