As winter quickly approaches, so does the cold and flu season. Although the last two years of mask and social distancing have offered a reprieve from the cold and flu season, this winter will likely be different. The combination of cooler temperatures increased indoor activity, and no more Covid restrictions are conducive to a severe flu season. A severe flu season increases the importance of being aware of the symptoms and taking precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

What are the Symptoms of the Flu 2022:

The flu is an upper respiratory illness that impacts the nose, chest, and lungs. In most cases, the flu resolves on its own; however, the flu may be deadly in young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions. Standard symptoms of the flu include: 

  • Rapid Onset
  • Fever
  • Aches & Pains
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Persistent Cough
  • Nausea & Vomiting (typically in children)

In most cases, the flu can be treated at home and does not need medical intervention. However, if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms, please seek medical care immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Ongoing dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions
  • Severe weakness or muscle pain

How Long Does the Flu Last:

For the majority of individuals, the flu is an uncomfortable, short term illness that resolves itself in a week. Symptoms usually appear one to four days after exposure and last five to seven days. For those who have a flu shot, symptoms may be less severe and not last as long. Individuals with the flu should wait a minimum of 24 hours with no fever before returning to work or school.

Ways to Distinguish Between the Flu, Covid, & RSV: 

There are three winter illnesses expected to thrive this season: the Flu, Covid-19, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). All three viruses have similar symptoms, but there are ways to distinguish between them. 

  • Symptoms of the Flu typically appear 1 to 4 days after infection and come on rather quickly, unlike Covid or RSV
  • RSV consist of a runny nose and coughing, but it is typically much milder
  • Covid-19 symptoms include loss of taste and smell which does not occur with the flu or RSV
  • RSV symptoms do not include a sore throat, unlike the flu or covid-19 infections
  • Covid-19 symptoms tend to last much longer than the flu or RSV

While there are distinguishing features of each virus, the symptoms are so similar that the only way to know for sure if one does have the flu, RSV, or Covid is by getting tested.

Ways to Avoid Getting Sick: 

The flu is highly contagious, and sometimes, getting sick is simply unavoidable. While there is no way to guarantee you won’t get the flu, there are ways to help protect yourself and others from catching a virus and getting sick. 

  • Get the Flu Shot : The best way to protect oneself and others each flu season is by getting the flu vaccine. This vaccine reduces the risk of catching the virus and reduces the severity of the illness if one catches it.
  • Wash your Hands: Washing one’s hands is the easiest way to avoid contracting any illness. Hand washing kills and prevents the spread of germs.
  • Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose, & Mouth: Touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth prior to washing one’s hands can easily spread germs.
  • Frequently Clean Surfaces: Regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces can help prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Boost the Immune System: The immune system protects your body from infection. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise, and adequate sleep can all help to strengthen the immune system.

While the Flu is expected to be prevalent this year, employing the methods above can help one stay healthy and avoid getting sick. However, if one does end up getting sick, make sure to take care of oneself by drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest. Help prevent the spread by staying home and avoiding being around others.