The flu is a serious illness that is caused by a virus.People experience a number of symptoms, including fever, muscle aches and extreme fatigue
For some people it can lead to pneumonia, which is a more serious illness. Some people can become very sick and will need hospital care.
In Canada, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. Peak flu season is in a 10 to 16 week period that usually starts in December. Between 10% and 20% of the population will get the flu each year.
WHO CAN GET IT
Anyone can get the flu. If you have it, you can infect others a day before your own symptoms even appear. You’re also contagious for up to 7 days after you get sick. Children and people with weak immune systems can spread the flu virus for a longer period of time.
Symptoms usually start 1 to 4 days after exposure to the virus. In most adults, the flu lasts 2-10 days. It sometimes lasts longer for the elderly, children and people with chronic illnesses. Children may experience an ear ache and an upset stomach while the elderly may not have a fever.
You may have the flu if you experience:
HIGH RISK GROUPS
Some people run a higher risk of experiencing complications or hospitalization if they contract the flu. High-risk groups include children under 5, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions.
FLU VS COMMON COLD
The symptoms of the flu and the common cold are very similar. Both illnesses often come with a runny, stuffy nose and sore throat. Unlike a case of the common cold, the flu can lead to serious health problems like pneumonia.
Use this chart to help determine if you have a cold or the flu.
Symptom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Often high (102°F – 104°F or 39°C – 40°C). starts suddenly, lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Often, can be severe
Muscle aches Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe
Feeling tired/weak Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe, may last 2 to 3 weeks
Fatigue (extreme tiredness) Unusual Often, can be severe
Sneezing Common Sometimes
&/or coughing Sometimes, mild to moderate Often, can become severe
HOW TO HELP AVOID GETTING THE FLU
Get the flu shot
Wash your hands often
Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) nearby
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
Avoid touching your face
Stay at home when you're sick
IF YOU GET THE FLU
If infected, be sure to:
CALL YOUR DOCTOR OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF…
You may need medication or other care to help you to get better.
It's not too late for a flu shot and it's FREE!