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Flu season: Your questions, answered

Like the holidays, flu season is coming up fast and it's important to be prepared as possible. And while there is a lot of discussion about the flu every year, how much do you really know about the flu virus? Well, to make sure you're as informed as possible this year, let's take a look at a few commonly asked questions about the flu.

How do you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

With Americans getting about one billion colds every year, it can be easy to assume you just have a common cold. And if you have a runny nose, a sore throat and a cough, you may in fact just have a cold. But if you're experiencing other  symptoms like a fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue, there's a good chance you have the flu. If you think you have the flu, head to a local urgent care clinic for some friendly medical care.

Do I need to get a flu shot every year?

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months get their flu shot. And getting the  flu shot once does not protect you forever. Each year, the vaccine is re-evaluated and changed to adapt to the current flu virus. Because of this, the vaccine you got last year might not even be for the right virus this year. Additionally, your body's immune system response to the vaccine becomes weaker over time, meaning it won't protect you forever. So do yourself, and those around you, a healthy favor and get the flu vaccine each year. 



Who is at a higher risk during flu season?

While everyone is at risk of catching the flu virus, there are certain people who should take extra precautions. People who are older than 65 and young children are both at a higher risk of catching the flu due to their weaker immune systems. Additionally, people with certain medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes may be at a higher risk too. So even if you're perfectly healthy, think of those in your life who may be at a higher risk of catching the flu.

What else can I do to protect myself and my family from catching the flu?

While getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent seasonal flu, it's also important to practice good health habits. Remember to wash your hands frequently. Try to get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue can also help prevent the spread of germs.

If you do find yourself feeling the onset of flu symptoms, book an appointment from your smartphone or walk in to a MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care near you. The Indigo team can evaluate your cold and flu symptoms and, as necessary, prescribe medications that will help relieve your symptoms. And it’s no coincidence that our lobby is fully stocked with hot herbal tea. 

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