Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever (or feeling feverish/chills)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
People with flu can spread it to others. Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (usually within about 6 feet away) or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
- Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. 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.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu
There are prescription medications called “influenza antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs work best when started early, such as one to two days after your flu symptoms begin.
Antiviral drugs can help treat flu illness:
- Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. Flu antivirals are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, intravenous solution, or an inhaled powder) and are not available over the counter.
- Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They might also prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, when treatment is started early.
- It’s very important that antiviral drugs be started early after symptoms begin to treat people who are very sick with flu (for example, people who are in the hospital) and people who are sick with flu and have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications, either because of their age or because they have a higher risk medical condition. Other people also might be treated with antiviral drugs by their doctor. Most otherwise-healthy people who get flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.
To keep current with all information regarding influenza, please visit the CDC's Flu page