The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), winter is the typical season for influenza activity, but outbreaks can happen as early as October. Flu symptoms can include: a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and fatigue.
Fever is another symptom of the flu, but the CDC notes that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
While anyone can get the flu, some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. People who are at high risk include young children, pregnant women, people age 65 years and older, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease).
The CDC recommends the flu vaccine as the best way to prevent this illness. There are several vaccine options, including the flu shot and nasal spray. If you are sick with the flu, avoid spreading it by:
- Covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze;
- Washing your hands often with soap and warm water; and
- Staying home.
For more information about the upcoming flu season and how to avoid spreading this illness, take a look at this CDC resource guide.