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6 Things to Know About the Flu

With the flu season starting soon (usually around October 1st in Arizona) here are top 6 things to remember about the flu:

1. Anyone can get the flu.

This even includes healthy young adults. The flu can affect anyone at any age but usually causes more complications in people 65 years or old, people with chronic medical conditions (diabetes, asthma, heart disease, weakened immune system such as HIV) pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years old but especially those younger than 2 years old.

2. You can spread the flu, even without symptoms.

People may even pass on the flu to someone else. before their symptoms begin. People with the flu are usually the most contagious in the first 3 to 4 days after their illness begins. Healthy adults can even infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop or five to seven days after becoming ill.

3. Antibiotics do not treat the flu.

Specific medications called “antivirals” such as Tamiflu ® (oseltamivir) are used to treat the flu. However, these medications need to begin within 48 hours of symptom onset in order to be most effective.

4. Flu vaccines are the first and best way to help prevent the seasonal flu.

Unfortunately, flu vaccines can vary in how well they work. However, vaccines are still the best way to help prevent the flu. Other preventative measures include staying away from sick contacts, staying home when you’re sick, covering your cough and sneezes, and washing your hands.

5. The flu is different from a cold.

Influenza viruses A or B usually cause the flu. Common cold viruses include rhinoviruses, human parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), coronaviruses, or human metapneumovirus (hMPV). The flu and colds share many symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, and fatigue. However, colds usually have milder symptoms are more likely to include a runny or stuffy nose.

6. Flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours.

Common household cleaning products can help kill the virus that includes: chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, soaps, and alcohols.