The flu is one of the most contagious illnesses every year. Millions of Americans get infected annually, and cases typically spike in February. The key to stopping the spread is understanding when you are contagious and how the flu spreads. If you suddenly begin to feel sick, visit AFC Urgent Care Saugus for treatment. We offer COVID testing and flu testing, as well as flu vaccinations.
What are the symptoms of the flu, and how does it spread?
Symptoms of the flu are different for every patient. Not everyone receives the same symptoms at the same severity. Typically, however, symptoms show up all at once – they are not gradual. The elderly, those with health complications such as asthma or HIV, and children can have more extreme symptoms, sometimes resulting in hospitalization or death. Signs of the flu can include:
- Fever with or without body aches
- Cough, or shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Congestion, with a runny nose
Similar to COVID, the flu spreads through respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze and from being in close contact with others who are infected. As COVID still remains prevalent, wearing a mask and maintaining a six-foot distance from others can also protect you from the flu. Getting a flu vaccination will not prevent you from getting COVID. There is a small chance of still getting the flu after receiving the vaccine, but symptoms will be significantly reduced, and you are less likely to spread it to others.
How long is someone contagious for?
It is possible to become contagious one day before symptoms begin and up to 7 days after symptoms begin. Typically, patients are most contagious within the first three to four days of their illness. Even asymptomatic patients are able to spread the virus to others. Patients with compromised immune systems, such as those mentioned early, can be contagious for over seven days.
What are the treatment options?
Antiviral drugs can be prescribed for those infected with the flu. These prescription medications can lessen symptoms and shorten the illness altogether by a few days. They can also prevent complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. Additionally, OTC medications can help relieve symptoms, such as fever reducers and pain medication. It is very important to get plenty of rest throughout the duration of the illness. Fatigue is a common symptom, and it can leave you feeling tired for even weeks after the flu ends.