Facts about the flu to help keep your family safe this season

INDIANAPOLIS -- Flu season is here and doctors recommend getting vaccinated as soon as you can, but in the spirit of knowledge we've put together a list of flu facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help keep you informed so you can keep your family safe. 

What is the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. 

What are signs & symptoms of the flu?

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.

When does flu season begin?

Flu season typically starts in the fall and peaks in February but flu cases can pop up in the spring as well. 

Why is the flu vaccine important?

The head of infectious disease prevention at St. Vincent says vaccines can cut your chance of hospitalization or death due to the flu virus. Even at its strongest though, the flu vaccine is only 60-70 percent effective each year. 

Who is most at risk for the flu?

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

How do you prevent the flu?

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

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