Nurse's Notes

Nurse's Notes
Posted on 09/05/2017



Influenza (Flu)

What is influenza (flu)?

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza

viruses. It is easily spread and attacks the nose, throat,

and lungs. It is more common during colder months,

especially October through March.

How does the flu spread?

The flu virus spreads mainly by droplets made when

people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These

droplets are inhaled by others. A person also may get

the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu

virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes

or nose.

What are the symptoms?

Fever (or feeling feverish/chills)


Sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

Muscle or body aches


Feeling very tired

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea

(more common in children than adults)

Symptoms usually start 1 to 4 days after someone is

exposed to the flu virus.

How long is a person contagious?

Most people with the flu can infect others beginning 1

day before symptoms appear and up to 5 to 7 days

after becoming sick. Some people (especially young

children and people with weakened immune systems)

may be able to infect others for a longer period of


How is the flu diagnosed?

It can be hard to know if you have the flu or another

type of respiratory illness based only on symptoms.

There are lab tests that can be done if your medical

provider thinks they are necessary.

How serious is the flu?

Flu is unpredictable, so it varies every year. Some

people are at higher risk for severe illness from the flu

than others. These include older people, young

children, pregnant women, and people with certain

chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, heart

disease, or weakened immune systems).

How is the flu treated?

Prevention is key, as there is no cure for influenza.

The goal for treating the flu is to decrease how bad

symptoms become and how long they last.

Treatments can include:

Medication to help with aches and fever

Medication for congestion and runny nose


Drinking more liquids

Antiviral medication (best when taken within

48 hours of when symptoms begin)

What if I think I have the flu?

Stay home if you are sick.

Avoid contact with others.

Rest and drink lots of fluids.

If you are in a high-risk group, call your

medical provider for advice.

Call your medical provider or go to the

emergency department if you are having

severe symptoms like:

o Difficulty breathing or shortness of


o Pain or pressure in the chest or


o Sudden dizziness

o Confusion

Can the flu be prevented?

The flu can be prevented by following these steps:

Get a flu shot every fall when it becomes


Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue.

Throw the tissue in the trash afterwards and

wash your hands.

Wash your hands often with soap and water.

If not available, alcohol-based hand rub may

be used.

Stay home if you’re sick! Your fever should be

gone for 24 hours without the use of feverreducing

medicine before you return to

school, work or other activities outside your


Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects

and surfaces.