Get a flu shot
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine.
Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea.
People may be infected with the flu, and have symptoms without a fever.
Treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
Take preventive action
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
What to do if you get the flu
See your doctor. Antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
How does influenza spread?
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too.
People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick.
Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5 to 7 days.