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When is Flu Season: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Prepare for flu season by learning when flu season usually occurs, what to look out for, and how to protect yourself.

As the seasons change and temperatures drop, a familiar annual visitor makes its presence felt – the flu. The flu season brings a higher risk of respiratory infections, impacting people of all ages. This is a significant public health concern during the colder months of the year.
Although the flu season happens every year, there are differences in each season that can take people by surprise. Know when the flu season is likely to start and what to expect, so you can protect yourself and those around you.

What does ‘flu season’ mean?

Flu season is a period of time, usually during the colder months of the year when there is a higher rate of influenza (flu) cases.

During the flu season, influenza viruses tend to spread more easily as people spend more time indoors, in close proximity to each other. The colder and drier air may also contribute to the virus's ability to survive and spread.

When is the peak of flu season?

In the United States, the flu season typically begins in October and ends in April, although it can extend into May. The peak of the flu season happens between December and February. Flu cases are the highest during this time.

Does the flu season change?

The exact timing and severity of flu seasons can vary from year to year and from one geographic region to another. The climate, weather, and strains of virus circulating each year can also affect the timing of the flu season.

How is flu season determined?

Local, regional, and national health organizations track the prevalence of the flu. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responsible for monitoring the spread of influenza. Their health data can be used by individuals and health organizations to plan ahead and respond to ongoing flu epidemics.

Where can I stay up to date about the flu season?

The CDC makes flu data available to the public in their weekly FluView report. There, you can see key updates on flu infection numbers, trends, hospitalizations, deaths, and strains in circulation. Additionally, you can check to see the current flu infection levels in your state on the interactive map.

How do I know if I have the flu?

If you have the flu, your symptoms will probably appear suddenly. The flu is usually fairly mild, although it can be severe in some cases.

Flu symptoms may include:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Coughing

  • Sore throat

  • Congested or runny nose

  • Headache

  • Body or muscle aches

  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Flu symptoms can vary from person to person. Additionally, many symptoms of the flu overlap with other respiratory illnesses, such as a cold, RSV, and COVID-19. If you're concerned about your symptoms, a medical provider can give you a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

For flu-like symptoms, you can see a medical provider from the comfort of your own home. WellNow's virtual care program lets you talk to an experienced healthcare provider online.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for patients to get the treatment they need," explains Dr. Robert Biernbaum, Chief Medical Officer for WellNow Urgent Care. "When you're sick, you don't always feel up to leaving the house and coming to a clinic, and you might worry about infecting others. But there are a lot of cases where our providers can help without an in-person exam. Our virtual care program is designed to let folks talk to a medical provider from home whenever possible.”

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How Can I Prepare and Protect Myself From the Flu?

Protecting yourself from the flu involves a combination of preventive measures, including vaccination and good hygiene practices. Here are some recommendations to help reduce the risk of getting the flu:

Get vaccinated. Vaccines help your body build up antibodies against certain strains of influenza.

Wash your hands. An easy way to prevent the spread of the flu is by washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water.

Sanitize. Make sure that frequently-touched surfaces in your home and workplace are cleaned and sanitized regularly.

Physically distance. Keeping a safe distance from those who may be sick can help prevent the spread of infection.

Practice healthy habits. You can help protect yourself from illness by getting plenty of sleep, exercise, hydration, and healthy foods.

Feeling sick? Reach out to us today.

While most cases of the flu can be managed at home, it's a good idea to see a medical provider if you have any concerns about your health. If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, or you have underlying conditions that put you at risk of complications, it’s important to contact a medical provider.

For respiratory infections like the flu, the best way to talk to a medical provider is through a virtual visit. Virtual healthcare allows you to receive expert care and advice from a medical provider online. Start your virtual visit today.

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Information contained in this blog is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. The content is not meant to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition. Always refer to the personalized information given to you by your doctor or contact us directly.