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Influenza Facts & Prevention

Written by Skyler Sharp, FNP-C.

Our community is undergoing a public health concern, the influenza virus. There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing.

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through tiny particles called droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The flu virus also spreads when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. People infected with the flu may be able to infect others the day before their symptoms develop and up to 7 days after becoming sick. That means you can spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick.

Flu symptoms can be similar to those of a cold, although they tend to be more severe. Symptoms include:

  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Moderate-to-high fever (although not everyone with the flu will run a fever)
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Profound fatigue (may last up to two weeks)

The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year, especially those who are at high risk. People with a higher risk for developing flu-related complications include children younger than 5, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, along with American Indians and Alaska Natives. If you have chronic illnesses such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or have a weakened immune system you are also at high risk for complications if you contract the influenza virus (CDC, 2018).

Additional steps for prevention:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands: Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is a simple but effective step to help prevent the spread of the flu virus.
  • Clean common areas: Wipe down countertops and door handles to prevent spread of germs from one person to the next.
  • Avoid touching your face: Touching your mouth, nose or eyes can transport germs from your hands to your mucous membranes.
  • Rest: Consistently getting 7-8 hours of rest (for adults) gives your body the energy to fight off viruses.
  • Eat healthy: Maintaining a healthy weight along with consuming nutritious foods can help boost your immune system.
  • Avoid contact with the sick: If you or your child becomes sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends you/your child stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen.

If you feel like you have the flu, do not hesitate to contact your local provider.

Skyler Sharp, FNP-C
Shenandoah Memorial Hospital Family Medicine - Mt. Jackson
Now Accepting New Patients
5173 Main Street
Mt Jackson, VA 22842
Phone: (540) 459-1350

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Influenza. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm