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***Please note, there is more information available by calling 211 on your phone for Detroit Health Department information about the flu***

Influenza: The Flu

What is the flu?

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious disease that is caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza usually occurs during the months of November through April.

Influenza types A or B viruses cause epidemics of disease almost every winter. In the United States, these winter influenza epidemics can cause illness in 10% to 20% of people and are associated with an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations per year.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body aches

How is influenza virus spread?

Influenza is spread, or transmitted, when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. The virus enters the nose, throat, or lungs of a person and begins to multiply, causing symptoms of influenza. A person with influenza is contagious starting the day before symptoms start and can continue for up to 1 week.

What can I do to protect myself against the flu?

You can protect yourself from getting the flu by practicing good hygiene including frequent hand washing with soap and water and covering your nose and mouth (preferably with a tissue) when you cough or sneeze. Drinking plenty of fluids, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of rest will keep your immune system healthy. If you are sick, stay home from work or school to avoid passing anything on to others. A vaccine is available for those most at risk of developing complications from the flu.

How is influenza treated?

Influenza is caused by a virus, therefore, antibiotics are ineffective. Treatment is aimed at the relief of symptoms. If you have the flu, rest , d rink plenty of liquids and take medication to relieve the symptoms of flu such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, cough medication and/or decongestants.

Your doctor may prescribe Antiviral drugs to help treat influenza. Studies show that treatment with antiviral medications can shorten the time a person infected with influenza feels ill by approximately 1 day if treatment is started during the first 2 days of illness.