Flu: Symptoms & Treatment

Flu (influenza) health facts

    • The flu is a respiratory condition caused by one of the influenza viruses that infect the throat, nose and sometimes the lungs. The flu can range from being mildly uncomfortable, to a severe illness and can even cause death.
    • The flu usually comes on suddenly; flu symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • About 8% of the population in the United States gets the flu annually, with children being most likely to get sick from the flu.
    • The flu virus cannot be killed so flu treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and curtailing body pain.
    • The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot (flu vaccination) every year, as the type of influenzas infecting people change from season to season.

FLU SHOTS NOW AVAILABLE

Protect yourself & your family during this flu season. Appointments take just a few minutes and can be added to your routine visit.

Call us: (303) 218-7774

Request an appointment

Jump to a topic:

What is the flu (influenza)?

The flu can be a serious matter. Most of the time, people get the flu and get over it on their own. But the number of serious cases of the flu are on the rise. For example, hospitalizations for the flu rose dramatically in 2018. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2018 will surpass the numbers for 2014-2015:

  • 34 million reported cases of the flu.
  • 710,000 people hospitalized.
  • 56,000 people died from the flu.

It is particularly serious for at-risk groups, such as babies. A 2019 study by the CDC reports that the number of babies hospitalized for the flu is double earlier estimates.

Flu season

Flu season is generally fall and winter, with a number of cases peaking from December to February. Sometimes flu season can extend into May.

There are several different strains of flu (influenza) viruses. The flu season is caused by the more common influenza A and B strains.

How does the flu spread?

People with the flu are most likely to pass it on (be contagious) in the first three or four days of getting the virus. Typically the virus is transmitted in droplets of moisture formed when an infected person talks or coughs, and that moisture lands in the nose or mouth of another person.

The flu can also be contracted by touching a surface on which the moisture has landed, and then touching the nose, mouth or eyes.

Flu symptoms

Symptoms are often mistaken for common cold ailments that affect only the respiratory system, however, influenza affects the entire body.

People with the flu usually experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Body, muscle and joint aches.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Runny nose.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, which are more likely in children than adults.

People often think if they don’t have a fever, they don’t have the flu. But that’s not always a symptom. These flu symptoms come on quickly and last for two to five days, but individuals may experience the feelings of exhaustion for an additional week.

Flu treatment & prevention

At HealthFit, we prefer that our patients take preventive steps and get a flu vaccination from us before flu season begins, as we are unable to kill the flu virus once it has taken hold. But if a person is diagnosed with the flu, treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms and easing pain within the body.

We also may administer antiviral drugs. These can lessen symptoms and shorten one’s illness by 1 or 2 days. For people at high risk, antiviral medications can mean the difference between a mild case of the flu and a serious case that could require hospitalization.

When to see a primary care provider for the flu

Some people are at higher risk of having a serious case of the flu, including:

  • Children.
  • People over the age of 65.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with other chronic medical issues.

Patients should call us if they are in a high-risk group and get the flu or suspect they have the flu, as should people who are very sick with the flu and concerned about the severity of their symptoms.

We recommend patients seek emergency medical care for the flu when the following signs are present.

In infants

  • No tears when crying.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Not able to eat.

In children

  • Fever accompanied by a rash.
  • Blue skin color.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Not interacting with others; not waking up.
  • Symptoms get better, then return with increased fever and cough.

In adults

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
  • Vomiting of a severe and persistent nature.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.
  • Symptoms get better, then return with increased fever and cough.

Take the next steps at HealthFit

The best first step is to come in for a flu vaccination each year to help prevent getting sick. But if you or your child experience the flu symptoms above, make an appointment. We offer same-day appointments for HealthFit patients to treat the flu and other acute care needs.

Request Appointment or call (303) 218-7774