With so much mental energy having been consumed by another virus this year, it may be easy to forget about the potential severity of the influenza virus. During the 2019-2020 season alone, as many as 56 million Americans contracted influenza, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those who became ill with the flu, an estimated 740,000 were hospitalized, and as many as 62,000 Americans died of influenza.

At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we are committed to helping you stay healthy all year long. Here is the essential information you need to know about influenza, and what measures you should take to protect yourself this flu season.

woman coughing
What is Influenza?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. It is spread via respiratory droplets, meaning that a person who is ill with the flu can pass it on to others by coughing or sneezing. It usually takes between one and four days for a person who has been exposed to influenza to develop an infection, and symptoms can last for one to two weeks.

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How is Influenza Treated?

The way that influenza is treated depends largely on how sick you are and the duration of time that you have had symptoms.

Mild Influenza

For mild cases of influenza, your healthcare provider may simply recommend supportive care, such as increasing your rest, staying hydrated, taking medications to help with symptoms, and monitoring yourself. Antiviral medication may be recommended, but only with careful consideration of the extent of your illness and your treatment goals.

Moderate Influenza

Cases of moderate influenza may also be managed at home with rest, hydration, and medications to help with symptoms. However, your healthcare provider may be more likely to recommend an anti-influenza medication to help your symptoms resolve faster. In general, antiviral medicines, such as Tamiflu (Oseltamivir), are most effective if they are started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Your body will fight off influenza with or without the use of antiviral medication; however, antiviral medications may lessen the severity of your symptoms and help you feel better sooner.

Severe Influenza

Your healthcare provider may recommend hospitalization if you have severe influenza, particularly if you have risk factors that predispose you to get very ill. In the hospital, you can be more closely monitored to make sure that your body is able to keep up with the demands of the illness. You may receive supplementary oxygen, hydration through an IV line, or even antibiotics if there is a concern that you have a bacterial illness in addition to the flu. You may also receive treatments to help improve your breathing.

child with fever
How Can Influenza be Managed at Home?

Influenza can be managed at home using a variety of supportive care measures. These home measures include:

  • Increasing your rest
  • Intaking plenty of fluids in order to replenish the fluids lost through coughing and having an elevated body temperature
  • Using over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, to help with your symptoms of body aches, fever, and chills
  • Using other medications, such as prescription cough medicine, to help with respiratory symptoms
  • Drinking warm fluids, such as tea with honey or lemon, to help soothe a sore throat
child getting a flu shot
Influenza Prevention

Luckily, your ability to prevent influenza each season is largely under your control when you use proper respiratory measures and get vaccinated.

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Influenza Articles

The following articles pertain to influenza and are cultivated from our health and wellnesss blog.

Knowing the Difference Between COVID-19 and Flu 

on August 29, 2020 00:18:11

With Flu season approaching, many people may be concerned about being able to tell the difference between whether they have contracted influenza (flu) virus or have COVID-19. Both are respiratory illnesses that are contagious and both are caused by...

Some People at High Risk for Flu Complication

on September 06, 2019 08:54:28

For many people, coming down with the flu can mean about two weeks of illness, without the need for advanced medical care.

Help Prevent the Spread of Flu

on January 11, 2019 15:37:10

The flu season in California is surging, with recent reports of 42 fatalities in the state attributed to influenza since last October.

Flu Season Is Coming – Time to Get Vaccinated

on October 01, 2018 11:59:45

The arrival of October also signals that it’s time to get a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, recommend getting a flu vaccine before flu season begins spreading in the community. Because it takes an estimated two weeks after a...

CCC Screening Visitors due to Influenza Cases

on December 19, 2017 10:43:30

Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Comprehensive Care Center (CCC) is screening all visitors for influenza-like illness at the skilled nursing facility due to an increase in influenza cases at the center. CCC staff is following guidelines from the...

Taking Precautions for Flu during travel season

on December 15, 2017 15:39:17

The risk for exposure to influenza during travel depends somewhat on the time of year and destination, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to take precautions. In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season can begin as early as...

Influenza 101

on November 28, 2017 00:00:00

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory system. Unlike other viral respiratory infections like the common cold, the flu can be life-threatening.

It’s Time for the Flu Vaccine

on September 08, 2017 13:23:41

Influenza, commonly called "the flu," is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs). Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and...

Frequently Asked Questions About Influenza

What is The Difference Between Influenza and the Common Cold? Is Influenza the Same as the 24-Hour Stomach Flu? What is The Difference Between Influenza and COVID-19?

How to Learn More About Influenza

To learn more about influenza, check out the following information:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Influenza portal. This is updated with countrywide flu activity on a weekly basis during flu season.
  • Medline’s Influenza information page
  • The World Health Organization’s Influenza page