Stay Healthy this Flu Season

September 29, 2023

Flu Season is Here

It helps to know what the flu and other respiratory viruses are, how they spread, and steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is the Flu?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by various strains of the influenza virus. The flu and other respiratory viruses typically infect the throat, nose, sinuses and sometimes the lungs. Illness from the flu can range from mild to severe. Flu symptoms can include:

Most commonly:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough

And often accompanied by:

  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

It is difficult to determine whether you have the flu or other respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, based on symptoms alone. So, it is important to perform a home test for COVID-19 when you have symptoms since the treatment and period of isolation are different than for other viruses.

All respiratory viruses are spread through the air, especially at close range, when infected people cough, sneeze, or speak. You can also get infected by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus.

How to Prevent Getting Sick

Reduce your risk by using these tips:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue; throw tissues directly in the trash and clean your hands afterwards
  • Clean your hands well and often; use soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaner. Clean your hands after using the toilet, after touching pets, before and after eating and before and after caring for anyone sick
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops and children’s toys
  • If you or someone you know is sick with symptoms of flu or another respiratory illness, avoid close contact with them and stay home. If you are caring for them or can’t avoid close contact, wear a mask to reduce your chance of getting sick.
  • Get the flu vaccine, the 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine, and the RSV vaccine if you qualify and it’s recommended by your healthcare provider

Why Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?

Most people 6 months old and older should get vaccinated against influenza, with few exceptions. Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at higher risk of flu complications. It is especially important for people at higher risk to get vaccinated. Every year, flu vaccination prevents illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. While some people who get vaccinated can still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the seriousness of the illness, including the risk of hospitalization and death.

Where Can I Get a Flu or COVID-19 Vaccine?

Please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's website to find a vaccine location.

What to Do if I Get Sick

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid getting sick. If you do get sick, try to reduce the risk of passing your illness on to someone else.

If you come down with the flu, you’ll likely feel like staying home – and you should. Hydrate, get as much sleep as possible, eat well, and take over-the-counter medications as needed to manage pain, congestion and coughing. Wash your hands often and wear a mask around others in your household until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing mediations and your other symptoms are improving.

If you had a positive test for COVID-19, you should follow the specific recommendations for home isolation and contact your healthcare provider to see if you qualify for treatment.

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our monthly Healthy Communities newsletter and get the latest health and wellness information delivered right to your inbox.

By providing your email address, you agree to receive emails from Beth Israel Lahey Health. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe to Healthy Communities

Terms & Conditions*