In the past year, the discussion of sickness has revolved around COVID-19 and the vaccine. However, even though the pandemic has affected more people, that doesn’t mean the flu doesn’t exist. Here’s everything you need to know about flu season, and how you can prepare for this year’s.
When is flu season?
As you probably know, flu season occurs in the United States during the fall and winter. This fits the visual that most of us have of the season: people bundled up in hats, scarves, and big coats while they sniffle in the snow. While the majority of flu season falls between December and February, it can actually extend as long as May, and start as early as October(1). In a study the CDC did over a 38-year span on influenza activity, it is apparent that February is the month that most flu cases are seen to be prevalent. The influenza virus goes around year-round, but the spike in cases during these colder months has led to the concept of flu “season.”
What are the symptoms from the flu?
When someone has come down with the dreaded flu, it’s likely that they won’t have a doubt about it. The symptoms are noticeable, and they often intensify as your illness progresses. Some of the most common symptoms of the influenza virus are headaches, nausea, fatigue, fever, sore throat, and congestion (2). Someone who has been exposed to the flu will typically show symptoms 1-4 days after their exposure, then it takes 5-7 days after the symptoms appear for them to go away. SImilar to with COVID-19, you’ll want to be sure to stay home if you think you may have the flu.
How can you recover from the flu?
As you can guess, rest is very important when you realize you have the flu. All you’ll want to do is nap, and that is exactly what you should let your body do. You’ll want to call of from school or work to prevent the spread of the flu, but also to help your body recover. In addition to rest, you’ll want to drink plenty of fluids. This will help hydrate your respiratory system, which will be taking a beating when you come down with the flu. Once you show symptoms, you can also ask your doctor for an antiviral medication. If you take the medication as soon as symptoms start to show, you can even lessen the amount of time you feel sick (3).
How can you prepare for flu season?
You can talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s the right call for you, but it’s very important to get your flu shot. The shot helps prevent you from getting the flu, and it also helps lessen your symptoms if you do catch the flu. The same way that you can use a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can use a mask to help prevent the risk of spreading or catching the flu. The flu is transmitted by water droplets whenever people sneeze, cough, or talk, so a mask can help protect you and others from the spread (4).