What Causes The Flu
The flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. These viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk, sending droplets with the virus into the air and potentially into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. You can also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose.
You can spread the flu before you know you are sick, beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Exposure To More People
Some are more at risk because their circumstances expose them to larger groups of people or those more likely to have influenza. These include those who work in daycare centers, retail, and healthcare settings.
Using public transportation or congregating in crowded places for entertainment can also increase your expose you to people who can transmit influenza. As well, some workplace designs crowd workers together or encourage shared surfaces that may increase the risk of transmission.
How Do You Get Influenza
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It is caught when the virus comes in contact with the mucus membranes in your nose. This could be contamination of the air or by touch. Someone who has the flu touches his nose or mouth and then touches an object, which you then pick up. If you dont wash your hands, at some point if you touch your mouth or nose, you have brought the virus close enough to infect yourself.
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When To Call 911
The flu can quickly take a turn for the worse and may require emergency care. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention, as these may be a sign of serious or life-threatening complications:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
- A fever above 105 F that does not respond to medication
In children, seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish lips or face
How Long Does Flu Last And Is It Serious
If you have flu, you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected.
You should begin to feel much better within a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.
You’ll usually be most infectious from the day your symptoms start and for a further 3 to 7 days. Children and people with weaker immune systems may remain infectious for longer.
Most people will make a full recovery and won’t experience any further problems, but elderly people and people with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu or develop a serious complication, such as a chest infection.
Read more about the complications of flu
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Should I Get My Child Vaccinated
Yes, a flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting the flu and spreading it to others. Children younger than 5 years of age especially those younger than 2 years old are at high risk of serious flu-related symptoms and complications.
Flu vaccination has been found to reduce deaths in children. A study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that influenza vaccination is effective in preventing influenza-associated deaths among children.
Nationally, a total of 199 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC during the 2019-2020 season.
Is The Flu Contagious
The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about 1 week for adults, but it can be longer for young kids.
The flu usually happens in annual epidemics. An epidemic is when an illness spreads quickly and infects lots of people in an area at the same time. Some years the epidemic is more severe and widespread than others. An epidemic that spreads worldwide is called a pandemic. This is far less common. There were three influenza pandemics in the 20th century, and one so far in the 21st century, in 2009 with influenza A .
During the coronavirus pandemic, experts found that wearing masks can help protect the community from the spread of germs. They recommended that all children age 2 and up wear a mask when out in public or around people who don’t live with them. Wearing masks can also help stop the spread of flu.
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Complementary And Alternative Medicine
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that no complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful for treating influenza, making it milder, or shortening its course.
For relief of symptoms, using a neti pot or other method of saline nasal irrigation may help with congestion. Be sure to use distilled, sterile, or previously-boiled water to make the saline solution.
Honey may help relieve nighttime cough in children. However, it should never be given to children under age 1 due to the risk of botulism.
Go To The Emergency Room If Serious Symptoms Arise
Both the flu and COVID-19 can have serious complications. Go to your nearest emergency room if you or your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Flu-like symptoms that improved but then returned worse
- Chest pain or pressure
And, more specifically for children, go to the emergency room if your child:
- Is less than 3 months old and has a fever above 100.4° Fahrenheit
- Is between 3 months old and 3 years old, has a fever above 100.4° Fahrenheit, and is showing signs of dehydration
- Has a fever with a rash
- Has skin or lips that have turned gray or blue
- Is extremely irritable
- Is not eating or drinking
- Is not waking up or interacting with you
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Is It Possible To Get The Flu Even After Vaccination
Getting a flu vaccine greatly reduces the risk of getting the flu but it does not guarantee that a child will not get the flu. In developing the vaccine, physicians and scientists make a best guess based on recent flu patterns to determine the most likely flu strains for the season. Unfortunately, there can be strains circulating in the environment that are not in the vaccine. The flu vaccine includes three strains of the influenza virus. The good news is that even if the vaccine strains and the circulating strains are not perfect matches, the vaccine can still provide some protection because viral strains share similarities. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to elicit the proper protective response, so if someone is infected soon after receiving the vaccine, or if he or she was exposed to the virus before receiving the vaccine, symptoms can still develop.
Treatment In Residential Aged Care Facilities
From mid-May 2022, packs of the prescription-only medication, Tamiflu , an oral antiviral used to treat and prevent influenza A and B infections, are being sent to residential aged care facilities in a one-off pre-placement.
This stock is being pre-placed to ensure access to supplies at the commencement of this years flu season.
Information for aged care providers
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Get Treatment And Care Virtually
Whether youre stuck at home with a fever or you arent ready to leave your house just yet, there are a couple ways to get quality virtual care that fits your preferences.
Make a video visit appointment for face-to-face care from a doctor or nurse practitioner. With video visits, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan if needed. For example, your doctor may prescribe antivirals to treat the flu.
Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. Well ask you a few questions, and youll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner.
Why You Should Get Tested
According to Dr. Rehm, People who think they have a respiratory illness like COVID-19, influenza or respiratory syncytial virus should call their healthcare provider and see if testing is appropriate.
Testing is important not just for identifying which disease you have, but it also enables doctors to see what specific illnesses are circulating in a community.
And some tests can identify as many as a dozen different respiratory viruses, says Dr. Rivard. The caveat, though, is that these tests are usually reserved for children. Children have many more viruses theyre exposed to that could cause infection compared to adults, she says.
Similar tests can be used for adults, says Dr. Rehm, but, again, theyre typically only used in certain circumstances. Not every patient with a respiratory illness needs to be tested for a dozen viruses, she says. Those tests are primarily used for hospitalized or immunocompromised adults.
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Dispelling Misinformation About The Flu Vaccine Sickness Treatment And Recovery
If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how sick you can be. Chances are good that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with the flu was wrong. There seems to be no shortage of misinformation and bad advice when it comes to dealing with the flu and the flu shot.
Here are 10 common myths about the flu.
Managing Your Symptoms At Home
If you’re otherwise healthy, you can look after yourself at home by resting, keeping warm and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
If you’re concerned about coronavirus , be mindful of our ibuprofen advice on the coronavius page.
If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches. Children under 16 shouldn’t be given aspirin.
Stay off work or school until you’re feeling better. For most people, this will take about a week. See your GP if your symptoms get worse or last longer than a week.
Read the page on preventing flu for more information about stopping the infection spreading to others.
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Flushots The Why And How:
Yearly flushots can help prevent the severity of flu illness. Vaccination is the best mode to prevent life-threatening diseases. Flu vaccines build up antibodies about two weeks after vaccination. Therefore, it is important to get boosted at least two weeks before it starts spreading in your community.
There are a number of flushots available: Standard-dose flushots, cell-based flu shot, recombinant flu shot, high-dose flu shot, and adjuvanted flu shot. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , everyone who is 6 months and older should get a flu shot every season.
Its extremely important for those groups who are at risk of developing serious complications. However, there are rare exceptions based on health history, age, and any allergies to the vaccine.
The major reasons for getting flushots are that every year a persons immunity declines, so a yearly flu shot is necessary for the best possible protection. Secondly, the extremely versatile viral strains can pose a threat and therefore, the vaccines are updated to provide the needed safety.
What Is The Flu
The flu, also called influenza, is a respiratory infection caused by viruses. Each year, millions of Americans get sick with the flu. Sometimes it causes mild illness. But it can also be serious or even deadly, especially for people over 65, newborn babies, and people with certain chronic illnesses.
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I Think I Have Influenza Should I See A Doctor
Anyone at a higher risk of serious illness with flu-like symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible.
Most people who are generally healthy wont need to see their doctor for the flu. As symptoms of the flu are similar to COVID-19, talk to your doctor about testing for COVID-19 infection.
If you have the flu, try to rest, maintain a good fluid intake, and manage your symptoms. This will help you recover and prevent dehydration. Your immune system will fight the infection and symptoms will usually clear up on their own.
If you do need to see a GP for your symptoms, make sure you call ahead first so they can make sure theres no one in an at-risk group around when you have your appointment.
Failure To Get The Annual Flu Shot
The best way to reduce your risk of the flu is by getting the annual influenza vaccine, which is recommended for all people six months and older. If you choose not to get the vaccine, you are at risk of catching influenza and transmitting it to vulnerable people around you.
The flu shot is reformulated each year based on the prediction of which strains of flu will be circulating. While the prediction is not always perfect, it can prevent catching the flu or may make the flu milder if you do catch it.
The vaccine works by stimulating your body to create antibodies that will fight the influenza virus. If you are actually exposed to the influenza virus, your body will recognize it and be able to fight it off.
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The Importance Of Social Distancing
Two reasons that the 2020-2021 flu season was such a quiet one: social distancing and improved hygiene, says Dr. Rehm. The use of face masks, social distancing and paying more attention to hand-washing all impacted the lower rates of flu and other respiratory viruses.
All of these things are still part of our strategy going forward, not just to prevent COVID-19 and the flu, but other viruses, too, she adds. Having robust vaccines adds to these levels of protection.
What About Influenza Complications
In some cases of the flu, severe illness and complications can develop. This can result in hospitalisation and even death.
The flu can also make some existing medical conditions worse.
In Victoria, flu vaccination is free for people with a higher risk of severe complications associated with the flu:
- children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months and over
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- people 65 years and over
- people aged 6 months and older with medical conditions putting them at higher risk of severe flu and its complications:
- cardiac disease
- children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
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Flu Symptoms In Children
Flu symptoms in school-age children and adolescents are similar to those in adults. Children tend to have higher temperatures than adults, ranging from 103°F to 105°F. Flu in preschool children and infants is hard to pinpoint since its symptoms are so similar to infections caused by other viruses.
If the symptoms mentioned above are present and the flu is circulating in your area, please contact a healthcare provider immediately.
Can A Flu Vaccine Give Me Flu
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been killed and are therefore not infectious, or b) with proteins from a flu vaccine virus instead of flu vaccine viruses . The nasal spray vaccine is made with attenuated live flu viruses, and also cannot cause flu illness. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.
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How Is The Flu Treated
Most kids with flu get better at home. Make sure your child:
- drinks lots of liquids to prevent dehydration
- gets plenty of sleep and takes it easy
- takes acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches. Don’t give kids or teens aspirin because of its link to Reye syndrome.
- wears layers that are easy to remove. Kids might feel cold one minute and hot the next.
Children with the flu should stay home from school and childcare until they feel better. They should go back only when they haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine. Some kids need to stay home longer. Ask the doctor what’s best for your child.
Doctors may prescribe antiviral medicine for a very ill child or kids are at risk for more serious symptoms. The medicine can shorten the flu by 12 days. It works best if children start taking it within 48 hours of the start of the flu. If a doctor prescribes antiviral medicine for your child, ask about any possible side effects. Doctors won’t prescribe antibiotics for the flu. Antibiotics work only against bacteria, not viruses.