Flu is a term used to refer to a number of different versions of the influenza virus. Despite the variation in name (be it swine flu, bird flu, etc.), flu symptoms tend to be all the same: fever, chills, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and fatigue.
Flu season normally starts in late fall and lasts until early spring. The best ways to prevent catching the flu are basic ways to stop the spread of germs: cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze with a tissue, wash your hands often with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand rub and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
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Seasonal flu vaccines are also available. These vaccines will protect against the three most common strains of the virus for that season, and are strongly encouraged for healthcare workers, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health problems.
If you do contract the flu, follow your doctor’s orders. Staying home and away from others is recommended for at least a day after the fever breaks. A doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to treat the illness. The sooner you receive the medication, the sooner you will start to feel better.
If you are caring for someone with the flu, avoid face-to-face contact or use a facemask to protect yourself, clean your hands after touching a sick person or handling their used tissues or laundry and speak to your doctor are getting a vaccine or preventive antiviral medication.