Hello everyone and welcome back to the start of the school year 2012-2013. Back to getting up early, back to packing lunches with lots of fruits and veggies, and back to the cold and flu season. This year’s forecast is again lots of colds, viruses, infections and influenza. So what do you need to know? Well my friends, here it is-everything you need to know about the flu season, brought to you by flu.gov –in a two part article. Print this out and put this on your refrigerator or bulletin board or where ever you can keep checking it. Every family member (and teachers-every child in your class) needs to read this. Remember this information is meant for educational purposes; always consult with your medical provider regarding any and all medical questions.
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year.
- Flu season typically peaks in January or February.
- Getting the flu vaccine your best protection against the flu.
- Flu-related complications include pneumonia and dehydration.
- Illness from seasonal flu usually lasts one to two weeks.
What is the seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, the flu can lead to death.
When is flu season?
In the United States, flu season occurs in the fall and winter. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.
How does seasonal flu spread?
Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Who is at risk?
Some groups are more likely to experience complications from the seasonal flu, including:
- Seniors (those age 65 and older)
- Children (especially those younger than 2)
- People with chronic health conditions
How can I protect myself from seasonal flu?
Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. The 2012-2013 vaccine is now available. You should also follow our everyday steps to keep yourself healthy.
What are common complications from the seasonal flu?
Complications from the flu include:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Ear or sinus infections
- Worsening of chronic health conditions
Each year approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications.
How long does the illness last?
Most people who get the flu feel much better within one or two weeks.
How long am I contagious?
Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after symptoms appear. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be contagious for a longer period.
How many times can a person become infected with the seasonal flu?
You are unlikely to get infected with the same exact strain of flu more than once. It is possible to be infected with flu virus more than once in a season, though, because several different strains of flu virus circulate each year. Exposure to a particular strain of flu virus may help protect you against that strain in the future. But it will not protect you from infection with other flu virus strains.
Is the stomach flu really the flu?
Many people use “stomach flu” to describe illness with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Many different viruses, bacteria, or parasites can cause these symptoms. While the flu can sometimes cause vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea—more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of the flu. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Flu symptoms include:
- A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- A cough and/or sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Do I have the flu or a cold?
YouTube embedded video: http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/U8eIE3caNA4
The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Your health care provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.
When should I seek emergency medical attention?
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
For more information -please visit www.cdc.gov/flu