The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, which is a contagious disease that can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Flu activity typically peaks in January and February. Although they share many of the same symptoms, the flu is not the same as a cold. Flu symptoms include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Flu symptoms typically occur rapidly and last three to seven days. You are contagious both before experiencing symptoms and after they’ve subsided. If you or one of your family members is experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your nearest NextCare Urgent Care today for diagnosis and treatment.
You can protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot at the start of each flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every person aged 6 months to 65 years get an annual flu vaccine and those persons with certain high risk medical conditions.
What causes the flu?
The flu virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets, or when you breathe in germs transmitted in the coughs or sneezes of someone who has the flu. It is also spread when you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. This is why it’s important to cover your cough, frequently wash your hands, and stay home if you are experiencing any flu symptoms.
The typical incubation period for the flu is one to four days, with symptoms lasting anywhere from a few days to over a week. Adults can be contagious anywhere from the day before symptoms begin to 10 days after symptoms first appeared. The flu spreads quickly and easily, often striking a particular community all at once. Students or workers who haven’t received a flu shot generally become sick within two or three weeks of the flu’s arrival in a school or workplace.
Who is at risk for the flu?
On average, one out of every five Americans suffers from the flu every year, and people of all ages are susceptible to serious complications. Those at higher risk are people over the age of 50 and children between six months and two years. Pregnant women are also considered high risk.
Anyone can get the flu, and the best way to prevent influenza is with an annual flu shot. Receiving your annual flu shot will greatly reduce your risk of contracting the virus this flu season. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for an adult to develop protection against the virus.
Why go to the nearest NextCare Urgent Care?
While vaccination is the single best way to protect against influenza, seeking professional help is highly recommended to help fight the flu virus once symptoms appear. In some cases, prescription medications “antiviral drugs” are recommended to treat influenza illness. Check with your doctor promptly if you begin to experience flu symptoms. NextCare Urgent Care may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness. To treat the flu, Tamiflu® and Relenza® are usually prescribed for 5 days to 10 days depending on age.
Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness. Antiviral drugs are effective across a broad range of ages and risk groups. In 2015, three FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs were recommended for use in the United States: oseltamivir, zanamivir and peramivir. You can visit your nearest NextCare Urgent Care location to see if you can benefit from one of these antiviral flu medications.