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Symptoms of flu

Flu Symptoms: What Are They?

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The flu often arrives seemingly out of nowhere. Each year, nearly 8% of the U.S. population comes down with this contagious respiratory illness, according to a recent study by the CDC, and the symptoms are no fun. Here are the symptoms commonly associated with the flu.

Symptoms of the Flu 

The flu is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills

On average, flu symptoms manifest within one to four days after exposure to the virus and continue for about five to seven days after. For some people, the symptoms may last closer to two weeks. If you have the flu, you are most contagious in the early days of your illness, but you can begin to infect others as early as one day prior to your own symptoms even appearing.

What do I do if I think I have the flu? 

The most important thing to do if you think you may have the flu is rest and let your body fight the illness. The symptoms may be unpleasant, but they mean your immune system is working hard to get rid of the virus. Drink lots of water and take over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Advil to lower your fever if you have one.

The flu typically lasts about five to seven days, but for certain patients it can be longer. Once you start to feel better, this helpful checklist can help you determine whether you are ready to return to work after being out sick.

How can I avoid getting the flu?

The single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated each year. 

Getting a flu vaccine this fall, while we are still experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu, but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but the flu shot has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. 

Patients should get their flu shot at their most convenient source, either through Primary Care, Urgent Care or their closest pharmacy.

Other habits that can help prevent the flu include:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding close contact with someone with the flu
  • Covering you mouth when coughing or sneezing

These are all good health habits to avoid the flu and other wintertime illnesses!

Flu Season Is Here. Visit any Ochsner Urgent Care or schedule a virtual visit if you have the flu. Learn more.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 10, 2019, but has been updated.

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