fluThe flu is an infection that can cause fever, cough, body aches, and other symptoms. There are different forms of the flu, including the “seasonal” flu, the 2009-2010 pandemic H1N1 flu (also called the “swine” flu), and the bird flu. All forms of the flu are caused by viruses. The medical term for the flu is “influenza.”

To avoid exposure you can:

Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol hand rubs

Stay away from people you know are sick

Get the flu vaccine every year

Most people with the flu get better on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. But you should call your doctor or nurse if you:

Have trouble breathing or are short of breath

Feel pain or pressure in your chest or belly

Get suddenly dizzy

Feel confused

Have severe vomiting

Take your child to the doctor if he or she:

Starts breathing fast or has trouble breathing

Starts to turn blue or purple

Is not drinking enough fluids

Will not wake up or will not interact with you

Is so unhappy that he or she does not want to be held

Gets better from the flu but then gets sick again with a fever or cough

Has a fever with a rash

If you decide to go to a walk-in clinic or a hospital because of the flu, tell someone right away why you are there. The staff might ask you to wear a mask or to wait someplace where you are less likely to spread your infection.

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