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Influenza…What you NEED to know!

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Gina Benson BSN, RN, PHN,

Triage Nurse

Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it's not the same as “stomach flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. For most people, influenza resolves on its own. But sometimes, influenza and its complications can be deadly. Some people such as children under the age of 5, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly are at higher risk of developing flu complications.

Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object — such as a telephone, computer keyboard, remote control, door knobs, light switches — and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.

People with the virus are likely contagious from the day or so before symptoms first appear until about five days after symptoms begin. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time.

Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu. Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)

Aching muscles (body aches)

Chills and sweats


Dry, persistent cough

Fatigue and weakness

Nasal congestion

Sore throat

Most people who get the flu can treat the symptoms themselves at home and often don't need to see a doctor. Though the annual influenza vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, it's still your best defense against the flu. You are able to treat your symptoms with over the counter medications, push fluids, get plenty of rest and remember to cover your cough, use good hand hygiene, and avoid crowds to decrease the spread of this virus.

For more information please visit Mayo Clinic website at:

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