When Is Flu Season?
June 28, 2022
Millions of people get the flu every year. In fact, you can get the flu any time during the year as the flu tends to spike in cases during “flu season.” But when exactly is this? How long does it last? We are here to help you understand everything you need about flu season.
Nobody wants to get the flu. It can leave you with a terrible cough and sore throat, and even prevent you from getting out of bed for days. Although it’s difficult to avoid entirely because it is such a common illness, it is essential to remember when the flu is spreading most.
Keep reading to get all the information on the flu, when flu season is, and what you can do to avoid the severe symptoms that often accompany this virus.
What Is the Flu?
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory virus caused by influenza A, B, or C. These viruses infect the nose, throat, and lungs.
The first signs of the flu may look similar to colds you may have had in the past. It is common to experience a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat. However, although a cold can gradually increase over a few days, the flu and the accompanying symptoms usually come on abruptly. Similarly, the flu symptoms can make you feel much more ill than those of a common cold.
Also, even though influenza is commonly called the flu, it's not the same as stomach "flu," which is a virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting.
When Is Flu Season?
Flu season refers to the time that the flu is most active, meaning more people are contracting the virus. Again, technically you can get the flu at any point in the year if you are exposed to someone who is already sick.
However, the flu spreads faster in certain months of the year than in others. A combination of a few factors allows the virus to survive longer and spread faster.
The flu season lasts roughly 13 weeks, on average. In the United States, flu season generally starts in October and can last as long as late April or May. Given this timeline, the peak of flu season usually hits between December and March.
Why Is the Flu More Active in the Winter Months?
If you are wondering: why is the flu infection more active in the winter months? It is a result of the weather and activities during the colder months.
More people are forced to spend much of their time inside, usually in crowded places. Because it is cold, the options to dine, exercise, or spend time outside are usually taken away. Instead, everyone has to stay indoors with one another. Because the flu is an airborne virus, meaning it spreads through droplets in the air produced by talking or coughing, crowded indoor spaces allow the flu to spread much easier than outdoors.
Secondly, the cold weather impacts the virus and its ability to linger in the air. Once the virus is expelled from someone who is sick, it has to survive long enough in the air before reaching another person and infecting them.
The virus is able to survive better in cool, dry temperatures because warm temperatures can deteriorate the virus’s external coating, making it vulnerable to being destroyed by the environment before reaching another person.
However, cold temperatures cannot easily deteriorate this coating, which protects the virus even more.
Does Flu Season Change From Year to Year?
Because of the cold weather and more people being forced to be inside together, flu season remains fairly consistent each year. However, the weeks within flu season that the flu cases are the highest tend to change yearly. Still, they are almost always between December and March.
Additionally, the time in which a specific part of the country spikes may also change yearly. One week, there can be a spike in cases in the Northeast, and the following week, there could be a spike in the South.
Luckily, there are reporting symptoms that track outbreaks and can potentially let you know when a spike might be coming to your area.
Flu Shots 101: What You Should Know
The best way to try and avoid the flu, especially during flu season, is to receive your flu vaccine. Health departments recommend that everyone above six years old as well as pregnant women get the seasonal flu vaccine every fall. Unfortunately, you cannot get one flu vaccine and have it serve your immune system for life, like with other vaccines.
Each year, there are different flu strains that are expected to go around during the influenza season. Because of this, the flu vaccine needs to be different every year to protect you from what is expected to be most common during that year’s flu season.
Once you receive the influenza vaccine, your antibodies develop within two weeks to help protect you from becoming infected with the virus.
What Else To Do During Flu Season
Although the flu vaccine is the best form of protection against the flu, it isn’t 100% effective. If you are at a higher risk for flu complications or have young children in your home, you want to be sure you are doing everything possible to avoid contracting the virus between October and May.
Be sure to wash your hands frequently. Similarly, avoid touching your eyes, ears, and mouth entirely during flu season.
For example, if an infected person rubs their eyes and then feels a door handle before you touch it, you can spread the virus to yourself now by touching your own eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands, and don’t touch your face.
It is also best to wipe down commonly touched surfaces with a disinfectant wipe. This is especially important if you work in a crowded office or are going to a gym.
As we have discussed, every year, public health weekly reports try to track the progression of the flu throughout the country. Think of it as a sort of influenza surveillance. If these trackers report that the flu is about to peak in your community, it might be best to stay home and avoid long-term care facilities or other areas where people could be more at risk of severe illness.
Although it’s practically impossible to lock yourself in your house from October to May, you can be strategic about when and where you are socializing and when you are not. If the flu surveillance report says there is about to be a rise of cases within your community, try to avoid seeing people as much as you can and maintain a bit of social distance to minimize your risk of flu.
What To Do If You Have the Flu
Even if you get the vaccine and do what you can to avoid the flu, it is still possible to get sick. Although it is no fun to have the flu, there are a few things you can do to stop the spread of influenza viruses and alleviate your symptoms.
Stay Away From People
First and foremost, keep your distance from people once you start developing symptoms. In fact, you can still be contagious up to ten days after the onset of your symptoms.
Even though it can be challenging to remain isolated, you don’t want to spread the virus to your friends or family.
If you are sick, getting enough liquids and rest should be prioritized. Try to sleep in a dark, quiet room at night and sip at least 64 ounces of fluids throughout the day.
You can also take over-the-counter pain and fever relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve your symptoms. Some people also find relief from a cold or warm compress or a humidifier to help relieve any pressure in their sinuses.
Stay at home while you’re sick and for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone down. If you have the flu, focus on hydration and give your body the right vitamins and nutrients to help ease your respiratory illness.
In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, rest as much as possible and slowly introduce digestible foods, such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
IV Therapy Treatment
However, the most efficient way to give your body what it needs is to receive an IV therapy treatment. You may be familiar with the use of an IV in aiding the relief of infectious diseases.
An IV can provide faster relief than water or oral supplements without waiting in line at your local pharmacy. IV therapy and IV nutrition can also help the body receive different vitamins and supplements infusions through an IV without a visit to the doctor’s office.
An IV treatment targeted toward the flu can help fight nausea and vomiting. It also supplies your body with vitamin C, other essential vitamins, and electrolytes to help you overcome your sickness.
Although you can get the flu at any time of the year, those with certain health conditions and considered high risk for severe flu strains that could lead to hospitalizations may want to take extra precautions. The cold weather and increased indoor activities make this virus the perfect environment to spread.
If you are trying to avoid getting the flu, you should receive the annual flu vaccine, be rigorous about your hygiene, track flu activity in your area, and limit your exposure to crowds. You don’t want to be out in the midst of a flu pandemic. However, even if you do get the virus, there are things you can do to shorten the length of your illness.
The best thing you can do if you have the flu is schedule a call through our health care providers prior to your flu relief IV therapy treatment. You’ll start feeling better in no time.