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How To Prevent, Recognize, & Treat The Flu


It’s believed that the flu virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes, or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes.



  1. Get the vaccine
  2. Wash your hands often
  3. Avoid contact with people who may have the flu

The key to flu prevention is the flu vaccine, and it’s important to get the vaccine before the flu begins spreading in your community. It takes roughly two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so getting a vaccine as soon as possible is optimal.

While early vaccination is most effective, vaccination can still be beneficial throughout flu season and into January or later.


The flu makes you feel lousy, but in most cases, you can manage your flu symptoms at home with fluids and fever relievers/pain reducers, and without the need for medical care.

However, if you have concerns about your symptoms, you should first seek help from your primary care doctor or an urgent care center. If you go to the Emergency Department and you don't actually have the flu, you could potentially catch it from others who do.

It’s an emergency if:

  • You’re exhibiting severe warning signs of the flu
    • Chest or abdominal pain
    • Confusion
    • Respiratory distress
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Severe or persistent vomiting
    • Sudden dizziness
    • Flu-like symptoms that appear to get better, but then return with a fever & worse cough
    • Swelling in the mouth or throat
  • You are dehydrated
  • You or your loved one are in a high-risk group
    • Infants
    • Elderly
    • Women who are pregnant
    • individuals with medical conditions that affect their ability to fight infections

Call your primary care physician for these symptoms, or see an urgent care center if you’re unable to get an appointment with your doctor.

  • You’re experiencing mild to moderate flu symptoms
    • Fever*
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Body aches
    • Headache
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Diarrhea and vomiting
      *Not everyone with flu will have a fever


In some cases, the flu can be life-threatening, so it's important that you know how to recognize the specific signs of a flu emergency not only in yourself but children as well:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Irritability so severe that the child doesn’t want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with a fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
  • No wet diaper for eight hours
  • Fever over 100.3 in infants younger than 3 months


The common cold and the flu have similar symptoms, which makes it difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu makes you feel worse than a cold, and symptoms are more common, intense, and come on abruptly.

Cold or Flu?

Still have questions? Download our helpful flu flyer for more on-the-go information and contact your physician with specific questions.