Influenza is commonly called the “flu.” Influenza is a highly contagious disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can cause moderate to severe illness. Anyone can get the flu, and flu disease can be serious. Flu affects people of all ages and can cause severe illness resulting in hospitalization and death. Protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated as soon as possible, if you haven’t already — and by staying up to date on flu.
Keep up to date on the latest flu activity in Washington by visiting www.KnockOutFlu.org.
- Get your Flu shot. Flu vaccination is the best method of prevention. The flu shot is available at pharmacies and clinics.
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, especially those at high risk.
- Cover your cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Stay home from school or work when you are sick.
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
If you or someone you know has these symptoms and they are severe, contact your doctor, nurse, or clinic as soon as possible. The best way to tell if you have flu is for a healthcare provider to swab your throat and have a lab confirm the diagnosis.
If You Get the Flu
If you get sick with flu symptoms you should stay home, rest and avoid contact with other people unless you need to seek medical care. People with flu symptoms should stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without fever reducing medicines, usually 3-5 days in most cases.
Please remember to stop the spread of flu, wash your hands, cover your cough and get vaccinated if you haven’t already been vaccinated.
For more information about what to do if you get the flu, visit the CDC’s webpage, “The Flu: Caring for someone sick at home.”
The flu is unpredictable and symptoms can be severe, especially for older people, younger children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. These groups are at greater risk of serious complications. If you are in one of these groups, are very sick or are worried about your illness, please call your healthcare provider for advice.
Should I go to the Emergency Room?
- The emergency room should only be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill with the above symptoms. Use options like your regular health care provider and urgent care centers if you are not having a medical emergency.
- Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.
- If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it.
Emergency Warning signs of flu sickness:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- 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
- There are drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu called “antivirals.” These drugs can make you better faster and may also prevent serious complications. Call your Doctor to see if you need treatment.