This is Part I of our 2 Part Series on Influenza (or what is commonly referred to as “the Flu”). In Part I, we will explore what exactly the flu is, signs and symptoms and how it spreads.

Have You Ever Had the Flu?
Influenza (or “the flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

The single best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

You can also help prevent the spread of the flu virus by covering your nose and mouth during coughs and sneezes, and by good handwashing.

Signs and Symptoms of the Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills (* not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

How the Flu Spreads
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people infected with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also contract the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

Period of Contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Part II of our blog series on Influenza explores the seriousness of the virus and prevention methods.