What you Should Know for the 2012-2013 Influenza (Flu) Season
Welcome to the January 2013 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter. The Health Matters Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is linked to the weekly Campus Report. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information, regarding pertinent medical issues and health and wellness suggestions with the students, faculty, and staff here at SUNY Fredonia. This month's topic will be on Seasonal Influenza (Flu).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza activity continues to increase in the United States with most of the country now experiencing high levels of influenza like illness. These levels are nearing what have been peak in moderately to severe flu seasons in the past. The following are some common questions and answers regarding Seasonal Influenza (flu).
What is the seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, the flu can lead to death.
In the United States, the flu season occurs in the fall and winter. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.
How does seasonal flu spread?
Flu viruses can be spread from person to person through the air in droplets when someone infected with the virus coughs, sneezes or laughs. Sometimes people become infected by touching something, such as a surface or object, which contain flu viruses on it and then touch their mouth or nose.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. In general, the flu is sudden onset of severe symptoms. You get really sick really quick. The symptoms of the flu are more intense then that of a cold , and typically last 1-2 weeks.
Flu symptoms include:
Is the stomach flu really the flu?
Many people use the "stomach flu" to describe illness with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Many different viruses , bacteria, or parasites can cause these symptoms. While the flu can sometimes cause vomiting, diarrhea and nausea-- more commonly in children than adults--these problems are rarely the main symptoms of the flu. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
What are common complications from the seasonal flu?
How long am I contagious?
Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after symptoms appear. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be contagious for a longer period.
How can I protect myself from the seasonal flu?
What should I do if I get sick with flu like symptoms?
If you have symptoms of the flu, you should stay home or self isolate in your residential hall space until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever , or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
How can I treat my flu symptoms?
What are antiviral medications and how can they help?
Antiviral medications are prescription medications used to prevent or treat flu viruses. They are approved for both adults and children one year and older. If you get the flu, antiviral medications can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. Antiviral medications may also prevent serious complications from the flu. Antiviral medications work best when started within the first two days of getting sick.
Do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They are not effective against viral infections like the flu. Some people have bacterial infections along with or caused by the flu and will need to take antibiotics. Severe or prolonged illness or illness that seems to get better but then gets worse may be a sign of a bacterial infection. Contact your health care provider if have any questions.
When should I go to see a doctor?
You should seek medical attention immediately if :