Influenza — commonly called the flu — is a viral infection that affects your respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, and lungs. The infection can range from relatively mild to severe with life-threatening complications.
Risks from flu-related complications are highest for:
- Children under the age of five (and especially younger than two)
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, or weakened immune systems
- People who are severely overweight
- Residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
Complications from the flu can be dangerous. If you are in a high-risk group, see your Dignity Health North State doctor or promptly visit the emergency room for a suspected case of the flu.
Dignity Health North State provides emergency services when you need it, including treatment for influenza, in Northern California. Use InQuicker to select your estimated arrival time to your nearest ER, then wait at home until your time to be seen.
Common Symptoms of the Flu
Flu symptoms typically come on suddenly, unlike with a simple cold. Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
Complications of the flu can include bronchitis, sinus infections, and pneumonia. These problems can be serious, and could make existing medical conditions worse.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms of the flu, seek medical care as soon as possible.
How Does Influenza Spread?
Flu viruses are very contagious and can spread through droplets of mucus or saliva when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The flu can be passed on as far away as six feet from the infected person. It is also possible to become infected by touching your mouth or nose after coming in contact with a contaminated object.
You can become contagious about a day before your symptoms appear. This means that you can spread the flu before you even know you have it.
Flu Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health North State
Treatment strategies focus on relieving the symptoms of the flu and preventing its spread to others. In many instances, flu symptoms are mild and only require rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medication.
See your Dignity Health North State doctor right away if you are concerned about your symptoms, or if you are in a high-risk group. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication, which is most effective when taken within 48 hours of infection.
Your best chances of avoiding the flu are with an annual flu vaccine. You can lower your chances of infection further by washing your hands regularly and avoiding sick people.
Our goal at Dignity Health North State is to treat the whole person, not just the condition. Learn more about our holistic approach to medicine.
Dignity Health North State offers emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including care for influenza, in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.