Flu Fighters: Your Burning Questions, Answered
Education & Research We asked the American Lung Association to tackle your burning questions about the flu. Here’s what we learned.
Is it a cold or the flu?
It might be hard to know if you have the flu based on symptoms alone, which may include fever, headache, cough, chills, sore throat, congestion or fatigue. Consult your doctor to see if you might have the flu or if you’re at risk for complications from the flu.
Is the flu really that serious?
For healthy children and adults, influenza is typically a moderately severe illness. Most people are back on their feet within a week. However, certain groups of people are more susceptible to complications related to the flu and are considered "high risk." Those considered at high risk for complications include the elderly, very young children and people with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems. .
For people who are not healthy to begin with, influenza can be very severe and even fatal. In fact, each year thousands of Americans die from flu and its complications. Everyone, and especially those considered "high risk," should do everything possible to prevent the flu.
Should I stay home from work if I have the flu?
While it’s tempting to push through an illness, consider the health of those around you. Help prevent the spread of the flu by keeping your distance when you are sick or if you are around someone else who is sick. It is highly recommended that you stay home from work, school and public places when you are sick.
More steps to keep others safe include washing your hands often with soap and warm water and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
Can I get the flu vaccine?
Yes! Getting the flu vaccine every year is actually the best thing to do to prevent the flu. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination, and it’s also safe for pregnant women and those living with asthma. The flu vaccine is covered by Medicare and insurance plans, and getting the flu vaccine is easy – your doctor or a local pharmacy can administer the flu vaccine. The shot takes about two weeks to take effect so it can still help even if the season has started in your area, and as late in the year as March.