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Flu Facts

Flu Facts

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious disease that is caused by the influenza virus. The flu attacks the respiratory tract system (nose, throat and lungs) and is usually transmitted from one person to another.  This usually occurs when an infected person coughs or sneezes propelling their respiratory droplets through the air and infecting a nearby person. (Generally up to 3 feet) Another, but less frequent way is when a person unknowingly touches something that has been infected and then transfers these droplets to their own mouth or nose before washing their hands.

The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Other complications from the flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children and adults may develop sinus problems and ear infections.

It’s important to note that most healthy people recover from the flu without complications; however older people, younger children and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications from the flu. So be sure to consult your physician about the importance of getting a flu shot each year.

 Telling the differences between the Flu and Cold                        





High temp. (102oF – 104oF);Sudden Onset Lasting 3-4 days



Can be Severe Rarely

Body Aches & Pain

Often Severe Sometimes

Fatigue & Weakness

Extreme;Can last up to 3 weeks Mild


Almost always


Runny, Stuffy Nose Sometimes


Sneezing Sometimes


Sore Throat



Chest Discomfort, Coughing

Can be Severe

Mild to Moderate;

Hacking cough


Bronchitis, Pneumonia;Can be Life Threatening

Sinus Congestion or Earache

Prevention Annual Vaccination


Adopted from “FLU”: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Rev 9/87, pp 3-4

The common cold has similar symptoms to the flu. This type of symptom is referred to as “Flu-like symptoms.” Tests are available to determine the flu, but you need to be tested within the first 2 or 3 days of illness. A doctor’s exam may also be needed to determine any other complications arising from the flu.

High Risk Groups

While everyone is at risk of getting the flu, some individuals are at greater risk of getting flu-related complications, including those with:

  • Asthma and breathing problems
  • High blood pressure, angina, irregular heartbeat, or history of stroke or heart attack
  • Diabetes or other metabolic disorders
  • Renal dysfunction
  • Immunosuppression (including suppression of the immune system by medications)
  • 50 years of age or older
  • A resident of a nursing home or chronic care facility
  • Employed by a healthcare facility
  • In close contact with people who have any of the high-risk conditions listed above

If You Get the Flu

  • Drink a lot of liquids
  • Stay home and get plenty of rest
  • Take medication to relieve the symptoms of flu
  • Avoid using alcohol and tobacco 
  • Even though the single best way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccination each fall, there are other measures that you can practice to help protect you and others against the flu

Good Habits Help Prevent the Flu

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze—throw the tissue away after you use it
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are unable to immediately wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Stay away as much as you can from people who are sick
  • If you get the flu, stay home from work or school. Do not approach other people. You don’t want to make them sick too
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way