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    Flu Facts

    Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent catching and spreading the flu (influenza) is to get a vaccine each year.

    What is the "Stomach flu?"
    Although often used to describe illnesses with nausea or diarrhea, the "stomach flu" isn't influenza. These symptoms are commonly caused by gastroenteritis.

    How serious is it, and who is at most risk?

    Each year in the U.S., about 200,000 people are hospitalized due to flu complications; most are 65 years and older; children 5 years old and younger make up 20,000 of those hospitalized.

    Highest risk:

    • Elderly
    • People with chronic health conditions

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    What are the symptoms?

    Adult symptoms may include:

    • Temperature of 100°F or above
    • Cough
    • Body aches, chills
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Tiredness (fatigue)
    • Feeling lousy all over
    In children symptoms are similar to those in adults although children tend to have higher temperatures than adults and nausea and vomiting or stomach pain.
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    What should I do if I get sick?

    • Stay home and get plenty of rest.
    • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce fever.
      • Pregnant women should not take ibuprofen.
      • Do not give children aspirin.
    • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
    • Keep separate from other members of the household.
    • If the illness is severe or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your doctor or seek medical care.

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    When should I call the doctor?

    Call the doctor if you show signs of:

    • Persistent vomiting
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
    • Flu-like symptoms and are considered a high-risk patient.

    Seek emergency care if you have:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • Sudden dizziness or confusion

    Call the doctor if your child shows sings of:
    • Not drinking enough fluids
    • Not urinating or no tears when crying
    • Severe or persistent vomiting
    • Being so irritable that the child cannot be consoled
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
    • Flu-like symptoms and is considered a high-risk patient
    Seek emergency care if your child has bluish or grey skin color, has fast or labored breathing, is sleepy and cannot be awakened, or cannot interact with you.
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    Is there a vaccine, and who should get it?

    The seasonal flu vaccine is available now. Most adults and children – except infants under 6 months – should be vaccinated to reduce the chance of getting the flu and help stop the spread of the virus. If you have an egg allergy, consult your physician before receiving a flu vaccine.
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