FAQs About Flu Care And Treatment

Do you need to visit a flu care center? The flu is more than just a bad cold. Left untreated, this common respiratory illness can have potentially serious effects, cause you to miss days of work (and days of pay), or make you unnecessarily uncomfortable. As the weather gets colder, you spend more time indoors, and influenza begins to spread, take a look at what you need to know about this virus and flu treatments.

How Common Is the Flu?

There were between nine and 41 million cases of the flu annually reported in the decade between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pre-pandemic annual flu counts typically topped the 20 million mark—with many years seeing much higher numbers. 

Between COVID-19 restrictions, business closures, social distancing, and face mask use, the flu took a downturn and became less common. Preliminary estimates for the 2021-2022 season were significantly lower at nine million cases. While there isn't a guarantee that flu cases will rise as Americans reduce or eliminate COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, it could happen. This makes it important for everyone of every age to understand how this virus is spread and how to treat the flu.

How Can You Get the Flu?

Like the cold and COVID-19, the flu is a respiratory illness. It is spread through droplets that come from an infected person's respiratory tract. When an infected person sneezes, talks loudly, or coughs, their body pushes droplets out and into the air. If you breathe the droplets in or touch a surface they land on, you could get the flu.

Even though the flu is sometimes spread via infected surfaces, you can't get the disease simply by touching a doorknob, PIN pad, table, or other objects. You need to touch your own eyes, mouth, or nose with your contaminated hand for the virus to enter your body.

Can You Prevent the Flu?

You can take steps to reduce the likelihood that you will get the flu this year. But this doesn't mean you can guarantee a flu-free winter season. The annual flu vaccine can decrease the risk of catching the flu. It can also help to minimize symptoms and may make hospitalization or death from the flu less likely. Along with vaccination, prevention methods like engaging in proper hand washing techniques, wearing facial coverings, and staying away from sick people can help to prevent the flu.

How Do You Treat the Flu?

If you do get the flu, contact your doctor or visit a medical care center for a test. Your medical provider may prescribe an antiviral drug to reduce the symptoms and help you to recover in less time. Don't wait to get tested or ask your doctor about the prescription options. An antiviral works best if taken soon after your symptoms begin.