Cold, Flu, and Allergy Facts

Facts About the Flu

Causes: The flu is an acute respiratory infection caused by a virus. The virus is spread through airborne droplets of respiratory fluids when a person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms: Fever, muscle aches and pains, dry cough, runny nose, stuffed nose/congestion, headache, and fatigue.

When to see a doctor: Call your doctor if you hink you may have the flu. Call immediately if unexplained symptoms develop or you have an increased fever, blood in your mucus, neck pain or stiffness, or chest pain.

Prevention: Get a flu shot, especially if you're 65 or older or have chronic heart or lung disease. It takes time for your body to build up an immunity, so be sure to get the shot several weeks before flu season begins (late October or early November). Note: Do not get the flu vaccine if you are allergic to eggs (they're used to make the vaccine) or have a fever caused by another illness. Avoid crowds during flu season.

General treatment strategies: Rest, drink a lot of fluids, and take a pain reliever if you have a fever or any other physical discomfort.