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Oct 1, 2022

How the Flu is Transmitted and Spreads

Flu season is here, which means it’s time to get your flu shot as soon as possible. The height of the flu season typically runs from November through February, but can start earlier and last longer. It takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for your body to create enough antibodies to protect against the flu, so it’s best to stay ahead of flu season and prevent it as much as you can. Influenza treatment is available if you contract the virus, but getting the shot in advance can help prevent days of fever, chills, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms.

Flu shots are available at all TrueCare locations. Find the one nearest you.

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How Do People Get the Flu?

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. For most people, it involves mild to moderate symptoms that last one to two weeks. However, some people are at greater risk of experiencing a longer illness and more serious complications from the flu. This group includes older adults, young babies and children, and people whose immune systems are already compromised.

The flu can spread through direct contact with infected individuals, contact with contaminated objects, and airborne transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most experts believe flu viruses are mostly spread when people cough, sneeze or talk in close proximity to someone else. As with many viruses, people can be contagious before they start showing symptoms, making it more difficult to contain the spread of the disease.

What Are the Most Common Flu Symptoms?

When a flu virus attacks the human body, it can produce some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or feverish chills
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms can vary in number and intensity based on the person and the type of virus (there are four different flu viruses). Healthy people who contract the flu tend to experience milder symptoms. Those with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems can experience more severe symptoms, including flu-related complications. If you begin experiencing symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Your provider will prescribe a treatment regimen to minimize the length and severity of your symptoms.

TrueCare provides flu treatment options all year for those who contract the virus.

At a Glance: Flu FAQ

What’s the Best Way to Prevent the Flu?

The simplest and most effective prevention is getting a flu shot ahead of the flu season. Like all vaccines it is not 100% effective, and has risks associated with it. But in healthy adults it is shown to be effective 40-60% of the time. It also reduces the severity of the illness when it doesn’t entirely prevent it. The CDC has deemed flu shots safe for children six months and older. Nasal spray vaccines are also available.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle can help your immune system ward off the flu virus. This includes:

  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Minimizing your intake of sugary and processed foods
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours a night)
  • Washing your hands frequently

Avoiding those sick with the flu can help prevent you from getting it. If you can’t avoid contact, don’t touch your face with your hands, especially after touching a sick person or objects they may have touched.

To minimize the chances of spreading the disease, always cough or sneeze into a tissue. If tissues aren’t available, sneeze or cough into your elbow or shoulder. Don’t go to work or send your child to school until you have had a normal temperature for a minimum of 24 hours. Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaners as soon as possible after coughing or sneezing.

What Are the Best Treatment Options for the Flu?

If you begin experiencing flu symptoms, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, especially if you have a high risk of developing complications. When scheduling the appointment be sure to inform the healthcare center that you are coming in for flu treatment. At your visit, the doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to combat the virus.

If you’re not considered at risk for complications, you could still develop bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and other secondary issues. As soon as you start feeling a little sick, start drinking more water and eating more foods with antioxidants. Take over-the-counter medicines for your cough, aches and fever. Get plenty of rest and as much sleep as possible. Sitting in a steamy bath or placing a humidifier in your room can also help.

Easy Read: See our flu infographic

If it feels like you’re coming down with the flu, get in touch with TrueCare today by calling or texting (760) 736-6767. We offer same-day appointments at most of our locations, and we can provide a variety of healthcare services for you and your family – from sickness care to wellness care and everything in between.

We are proud to be a leader in affordable health care in North County San Diego and Riverside Counties. We look forward to serving you and your family!

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