Frequently Asked Questions About The Flu

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older woman sitting on her couch while blowing her nose after discovering flu questions
October 10, 2023

Every year, the flu, short for influenza, brings about health concerns due to its widespread impact. Sure, all of us know at least a little bit about the flu. However, just as the flu mutates, new general and flu myth questions form each year that are worth answering. We are here to help you get a grasp on this common illness and learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones against it. 

Common Flu Questions and Answers

Understanding the flu and taking proper measures to prevent its spread is crucial for maintaining good health during flu season, and all year round. By recognizing flu questions and answers about symptoms, getting vaccinated, practicing proper hygiene, and staying informed, you can help protect yourself and your community from the potential dangers of the flu.

What is the Flu?

The flu is a type of viral infection that mainly affects the respiratory system. It is caused by the influenza virus which leads to a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe. Despite a common misconception, the flu and the common cold are not the same at all. The difference between the flu and a common cold can be found in the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Cold symptoms are often milder and last for a shorter duration of time, while the flu can cause more severe symptoms that last longer [1].  

How Does the Flu Spread to Others?

The flu is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, especially without properly covering their mouth. It can also be contracted by touching a surface that has the curs on it, or when touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. To reduce the risk of spreading or contracting the flu, practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently, especially after being in contact with other people, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick. 

What are the Common Symptoms of the Flu?

Flu symptoms can vary depending on the current strain but usually include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms typically appear suddenly and can become very severe. While most people recover from these symptoms within a week or two, the flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia, especially in high-risk groups. 

How Long Does the Flu Last?

The duration of the flu varies from person to person, but it typically lasts between a few days to about two weeks. However, some symptoms, like fatigue and cough, can linger even after the worst of the illness has passed. 

Who is at Risk for the Flu?

Although anyone can contract the flu, there are groups of people more susceptible to severe flu complications. These groups include young children, elderly individuals, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and/or compromised immune systems. These individuals need to take extra precautions to avoid getting the flu and to seek medical attention promptly if they do become infected. 

Why is an Annual Flu Vaccine Important?

Despite popular belief that the flu vaccine will only make you get sick, getting vaccinated against the flu is one of the most effective ways to prevent infection and reduce the severity of symptoms. Flu vaccines are designed to protect your body against the most common strains of influenza viruses each season. Flu vaccinations stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that fight off the virus quickly and effectively if you were to construct it. It is recommended to get a flu shot annually, to protect against new strains, ideally before flu season begins. 

How Can the Flu be Treated?

Although there is no cure for the fly, there are various tried and true treatments that can help alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. For example, getting ample rest, staying hydrated, and over-the-counter medications can provide relief from the fever, pain, and congestion that comes with the flu. Additionally, antiviral medications can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to reduce the severity of duration of the flu, especially if taken early in the illness. 

Are COVID and the Flu the Same Thing?

The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses and therefore are different. Many people confuse the two because they can share some similar symptoms, such as fever and cough. However, there are distinct differences between them. CPVID-19 has its own set of symptoms and complications that has been associated with a wider range of effects on the body. 

Can You Spread Flu Before You Have Symptoms?

Yes, you can spread the flu to others even before you begin showing symptoms. You are likely most contagious in the first 3 to 4 days after the illness is contracted. This makes it all the more important to practice good hygiene and stay home if you think you may have come into contact with someone who has the flu. 

Can Your Immune System Fight Off the Flu?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during flu season can help support your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. By eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting regular sleep, managing stress levels, exercising regularly, and taking appropriate vitamin supplements, you can help maintain a strong immune system. However, it is important to note that while these immune-boosting strategies may help make you less susceptible to the flu, there is no way of fully preventing the flu.  

When Should You See a Doctor for the Flu?

If you experience severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, sudden dizziness, or severe vomiting, it is important that you seek medical attention promptly. This is especially vital for high-risk individuals and anyone with chronic health conditions, such as seniors. Older adults and elderly individuals can also greatly benefit from specificially visiting a clinic for senior primary care.

Flu Treatment for Seniors at Greater Good Health

At Greater Good Health, we’re committed to providing top-notch treatment for the flu in seniors and answering your flu questions. Your loved one’s health is our priority, and we’re here to offer expert care, comfort, and peace of mind. Schedule an appointment with Greater Good Health today, and let us be your partner in preserving senior health. Find a senior primary care clinic near you.