Preventing The Spread Of Flu
You can help stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others with good hygiene measures.
Always wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, as well as:
- regularly cleaning surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs
- using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- putting used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
You can also help stop the spread of flu by avoiding unnecessary contact with other people while you’re infectious. You should stay off work or school until you’re feeling better.
In some people at risk of more serious flu, an annual flu vaccine or antiviral medication may be recommended to help reduce the risk of becoming infected.
- difficulty sleeping
How Long Flu Symptoms Should Last
For a healthy adult, the typical flu will last between one to two weeks.
Following is a timeline of what symptoms you can expect and when, according to , a pediatrician with NorthShore University HealthSystem.
- Day 1:Symptoms come on abruptly, within an hour or two. You may have a fever, muscle aches, chills, cough, runny nose, headache, or all of the above. Many people are so fatigued that they have trouble getting out of bed. Children may feel nauseated and have diarrhea or vomiting.
- Days 2-4: Remain home from work or school as the fever, chills, and body aches continue. You should stay home for a full day after your fever is gone because you can still spread the virus for five to seven days after symptoms start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Day 5: As your fever, chills, and body aches lift, you start feeling better. But you may still have flushed skin, watery eyes, and runny nose. Fatigue may continue for a few days to a week.
- Day 10: Most of your symptoms are gone, but the cough, runny nose, and fatigue can hang around for as long as two weeks.
When Does The Flu Become Contagious
Once you have the influenza virus, you can spread it to other people about a day before you first notice symptoms.
Remember, the average incubation period for the flu is about two days. So, if you come into contact with virus on Saturday morning, you can potentially start spreading it to others by Sunday evening. And by Monday afternoon, youll likely start feeling the dreaded body aches that come with the flu.
Viral shedding refers to the release of the virus from your body into your surrounding environment. It tends to peak during your first day experiencing symptoms. This means youre usually most contagious on this day. Once you develop symptoms, youll still be contagious for another five to seven days .
Children, older adults, and those with a weakened immune system may be contagious for a longer period of time.
Its often hard to know when you have the flu coming on. Unlike the symptoms of the common cold, which develop gradually, the symptoms of the flu often come on suddenly.
The common symptoms of the flu can include:
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Are There Different Types Of Flu Tests
In a lab setting, there are a few different ways to test for influenza. The most common test for flu is called a “rapid influenza diagnostic test” . These RIDTs detect the part of the virus that stimulates an immune response, known as an antigen, the CDC says. Another type of flu test, called a “rapid molecular assay” detects the actual genetic material of the flu virus. Both of these tests are termed “rapid” because they can provide results in 1015 minutes or 1520 minutes .
Even more accurate than RIDTs and rapid molecular assays are tests most often found in hospitals or public health laboratories . Those tests are known as: reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, viral cultures, or immunofluorescence assays, the CDC says. These results also take a little longerup to several hours.
But as far as you’re concerned, all of those tests require the same thing from you: a nasal swab, where a provider swipes the inside of your nose or a throat swab, Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, tells Health. Even more specifically, some tests go further back in the nose, while the rapid test only goes right inside, Anjali Mahoney, MD, MPH, a family medicine specialist with Keck Medicine of USC, tells Health.
When Will I Come Out Of The Flu
After about 4 days, youll probably start to feel better. Your fever should be lower and your body aches should have lessened. Your cough may be worse, but this can be a sign that youre getting better. Its still important to get rest and plenty of fluid intake, and to self-isolate. Remember, youre still contagious until youve been free of a fever for 24 hours . At around day 6 or 7, you should be fever-free. Just wait 24 hours more before you stop self-isolating.
You may still be tired during this stage and still not at 100%. Take it easy to let your body get better. If youre not feeling mostly better after the week of being symptomatic, then youll need to speak with a doctor again, but you should be feeling much better at this time and close to feeling your best again!
Our doctors here at Immediate Care of Oklahoma can help you if you believe you have the flu or any flu symptoms. Please call us if you have any symptoms, though. Over the phone or internet, well be able to provide advice and even diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. Our clinic is available to you 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. Please see our Telecare page for more information or our Appointments page to book with us. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you get better quickly!
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Is It Flu Or A Cold
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have flu or just a cold, as the symptoms can be quite similar. The main differences are:
- usually include fever and aching muscles
- make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activities
- come on gradually
- mainly affect your nose and throat
- are fairly mild, so you can still get around and are usually well enough to go to work
How To Get The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.
The flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 50 and over
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in a long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get infections
- frontline health or social care workers
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
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Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot Protect Yourself And Others This Flu Season
The flu isnt like the common cold, it can hit quickly and last for weeks. For some people, the flu can have serious and devastating outcomes. Its important everyone in the community plays their part in helping stop the spread of flu.
Our message is simple: Don’t forget your flu shot. Protect yourself and others this flu season.
Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:
- you’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
- you’re 65 or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
- your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
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When Is Flu Season
Seasonal flu follows a pattern, starting in the fall and ending in the spring. The first sign is often a sudden rise in the number of school-age children sick at home. This is soon followed by more illness in other groups, including parents.
CDC: “Key facts about seasonal influenza ,” “Questions and Answers: Swine Flu and You,” “Key Facts about Swine Influenza .” âWhat You Should Know about Antiviral Drugs,â âThe Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick,â âFlu Symptoms & Complications.â
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Flu : Symptoms.”
National Jewish Medical and Research Center: “Influenza and the Flu Vaccine.”
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Flu .”
American Lung Association: “Influenza Fact Sheet,” âInfluenza .â
Mayo Clinic: âInfluenza .â
Merck Manual Consumer Version: âInfluenza .â
Flu Shot Side Effects
CDC note that the flu vaccine has a good safety record, and it cannot cause flu.
A person may experience the following adverse effects after having a vaccine, but these will be mild and usually pass within a few days.
- pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- muscle aches
Around 12 people in every 1 million may develop a condition known as Guillain-Barr syndrome . However, people can also develop GBS after having flu, and the risk of this is higher than with the vaccine. The risk of developing GBS may be lower with the nasal spray version of the vaccine.
If someone experiences hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing after any vaccine, they should seek immediate medical help as these may be the sign of an allergic reaction. A severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening.
how to recognize anaphylaxis and what to do if it happens.
People who have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine should not have the flu shot.
Is the flu shot safe? Find out here.
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What Are The Stages Of A Cold
Cold symptoms can differ from person to person, but they generally appear about one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. In most cases, cold symptoms will peak within two to three days.
The signs that you have a cold usually develop slowly. The most common cold symptoms include fatigue, sore or scratchy throat, nasal congestion or stuffiness, and a runny nose, followed by sneezing and coughing. Fever is not typical with a cold, but a low-grade fever isnt out of the question, according to the Merck Manual.
The mucus discharged by a runny nose may change color over the course of the illness, starting out clear and becoming thicker, yellow, or green. Postnasal drip, in which mucus accumulates or drips in the back of the throat, can further aggravate a sore throat or cough.
Symptoms usually disappear in 4 to 10 days, although a cough often lasts into the second week. A cold may last longer or be more severe in people who have chronic health issues.
If your symptoms persist more than 10 days or keep coming back, then something else may be going on, such as allergies, sinusitis, or a secondary infection.
Fever is an important sign, says Norman Edelman, MD, a professor of preventive medicine, internal medicine, physiology, and biophysics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Long Island. Adults with a fever of 102 degrees F or higher and children with a fever of 103 degree F or higher should see a doctor.
How To Tell The Difference Between A Cold And The Flu
A cold and the flu are both respiratory infections, but theyre caused by different viruses. A cold can be caused by more than 200 distinct viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , while there are only a handful of viruses that cause the flu. The flu is usually more intense than the common cold, says the CDC.
Cold symptoms tend to develop gradually, while flu symptoms can come on suddenly, without warning, per the CDC.
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Unable To Keep Food Or Water Down
When you are sick, you may not feel like eating much. Its important to keep food and water in your body, however, so your body can fight off influenza. A sign that your illness is getting worse, however, is the inability to keep anything down.
If you vomit every time you drink or eat something, your flu is getting worse. It can be dangerous and lead to severe problems if it persists. You will want to consult a medical professional if your illness gets to this point.
How Long Does Immunity Last
With some viral illnesses, once you have been infected with it or have been vaccinated against it, youre immune for life.
With the flu, however, immunity doesnt last that long.
A study published in March 2017 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases confirmed that immunity declines over the months following vaccination or infection.
Getting vaccinated every year is important to lower your likelihood of getting the flu. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity to the flu, and experts recommend getting vaccinated before flu season is in full swing to ensure adequate protection.
I think part of the problem with getting people vaccinated is people dont understand how serious can be, says Dr. Troisi. They confuse it with the common cold. But if you actually have the flu, you can get very sick.
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Early Symptoms Of Flu
Symptoms of the flu can include high fever , body aches, chills and sweats, headache, cough, fatigue and weakness, nasal congestion and sore throat.3 Below, well go through a few of these common symptoms so you know what to expect.
1. Sudden Fever
A quickly developed fever of 100.4 F or 38 C or more is a very common early symptom of the flu. However, not everyone with the flu will have the fever. You can have a varying combination of symptoms that can signal the flu.
If you’ve ever felt cold, shivery and clammy even while under blankets in a warm house, you were probably experiencing chills. Chills and body shakes are a common first sign of the flu and often accompany fever.
3. Generalized Muscle Aches
Another early symptom of flu is generalized muscle aches. This symptom can present when you suddenly develop muscle aches throughout your body that aren’t associated with any excessive exercise or injury.
If you find yourself with a headache along with other symptoms like body aches and a fever, this can be a sign of an oncoming or ongoing bout of the flu.
Fatigue can be an early flu symptom as well as a lingering one. General fatigue and tiredness can signal a developing flu virus and it often stays with you for days after the majority of your flu symptoms leave.
How You Catch Flu
The flu virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes.
These droplets typically spread about one metre. They hang suspended in the air for a while before landing on surfaces, where the virus can survive for up to 24 hours.
Anyone who breathes in the droplets can catch flu. You can also catch the virus by touching the surfaces that the droplets have landed on if you pick up the virus on your hands and then touch your nose or mouth.
Everyday items at home and in public places can easily become contaminated with the flu virus, including food, door handles, remote controls, handrails, telephone handsets and computer keyboards. Therefore, it’s important to wash your hands frequently.
You can catch flu many times because flu viruses change regularly and your body won’t have a natural resistance to the new versions.
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Let A Fever Run Its Course
The body does some pretty incredible things to protect itself. Cilia, for example, are the tiny hairs that line the inside of our respiratory system to protect us from pollutants in the air we breathe, like dirt. Our stomachs produce acid that helps kill dangerous germs that could invade through the food or drinks we consume. But perhaps one of the most fascinating ways that the body protects itself is with a fever.
A fever is part of our bodys natural response to invaders and is a very common early sign that your body is fighting an infection like the flu. It may come on quickly, and like other early flu symptoms, is an important step in the bodys quest to get healthy. Many viruses, including those that cause the flu, thrive at the bodys normal temperature 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. So, when the body recognizes an unknown invader, the immune system steps in and heats up the bodys core to a temperature that is not ideal for those germs to reproduce.
While a high fever can be dangerous and may require medical attention, a mild increase in body temperature when otherwise healthy adults and children are under the weather is completely normal and is actually a good sign that your immune system is in working order. In most cases, its completely safe, and even recommended, to let the fever run its course allowing it to break on its own.
How Long Does The Flu Last And When You’ll Start To Feel Better
- Early symptoms of the flu will come on abruptly and hang around for the first five days, or so, before you will start to feel better.
- The flu typically lasts one to two weeks. If symptoms are getting worse after the first week, you should consider consulting a doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition like asthma or diabetes.
- This article was reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergies and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Flu season in the US kicks off in October and lasts through May. While many healthy adults may be inconvenienced by the flu, everyone should know what to watch for and when to head to the doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.
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