Influenza is one of the most common diseases, so it’s natural that people have a lot of questions about it. In an effort to help you stay educated on the topic, we have created an outline of flu FAQ to make sure you will be prepared during this flu season.

What are Common Flu Symptoms?

Influenza has several common symptoms, but they can vary between cases. In particular, many people who get the flu will have a fever or feel feverish, but that is not a universal symptom. Most patients also suffer from runny noses, nausea, fatigue, soreness, and a cough. Some people will also suffer from diarrhea or vomiting, but that is much more common in children than adults.

It is important to remember that these symptoms can show up quickly, which helps to distinguish the flu from some other diseases. They tend to appear abruptly rather than gradually getting worse, so the disease can come as a surprise. Take the sudden onset of any of these symptoms as a serious warning sign.

How Dangerous is the Flu?

Most people who get the flu will recover within a few weeks without any serious complications. Unfortunately, there are some exceptions. Some patients need to go to the hospital when the flu leads to complications.

Some people are at greater risk than others. In general, the very old and the very young tend to have more problems. People with preexisting conditions are also more likely to develop complications. When in doubt,  talk to a medical professional to help understand your risk.

How Fast Do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines work by encouraging your body to develop the antibodies that it needs to fight off a disease on its own. However this is not an instant process. Your body will need a couple of weeks to get those antibodies ready after it has the vaccine. Getting your vaccine earlier is always best.

Why are Some Vaccines More Effective than Others?

Flu vaccines do vary in their effectiveness. One of the big challenges that medical professionals face is that the flu is not a single virus. There are a lot of different strains in circulation, and a vaccine cannot protect against all of them. If a patient gets a vaccine that doesn’t match with the circulating varieties, then it won’t be as effective. The vaccine also relies on preparing the patient’s immune system, so the strength of each individual immune system can also have an impact on how well the vaccine works for them.

How Can I Avoid Transmitting the Flu?

Good hygiene is the best way to reduce the risk of transmission. Wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If you do need to sneeze, do it into a tissue and throw that tissue away immediately after you use it. Clean your home regularly, especially if someone is sick. If you feel ill, be sure to keep your distance from other people and stay home from work or school and reduce the number of people you expose to the disease. None of these methods are flawless because people can be contagious even when they aren’t experiencing symptoms, but they do make a big difference.

Why is the Flu More Common in Winter?

Some evidence suggests that the flu virus spreads more easily when in cool environments with little humidity, but social factors also play a big role. Bad weather makes people stay inside and spend more time close to each other. That gives the disease more opportunities to spread because it spreads through contact. That makes it even more important to maintain good hygiene practices during the winter months.

As the flu season approaches, be sure to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and build your immune system. Be sure to get your flu vaccination, wash your hands frequently and clean surfaces well to avoid germ contamination.