8 Flu Facts for the Back-to-School Season

October 20, 2023
Picture of a child smiling and holding an apple while standing in front of a school bus.

If you have school-aged children, you surely know how often they get sick, especially as they head back into the classroom after summer vacation. Children’s immune systems are still developing, and cramped classrooms tend to make schools the perfect breeding ground for sicknesses, especially if the students are still learning illness etiquette (e.g., coughing and sneezing into their elbows and frequently washing their hands). With that in mind, here are eight facts to help get you ready for the upcoming influenza (flu) season.

1. The Flu Is Not the Same Thing as the Stomach Flu

The flu is a respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs, causing symptoms like congestion, sneezing, a sore throat, coughing, chest discomfort, a fever, chills, headaches, body aches, weakness, and fatigue (children may also experience vomiting and diarrhea). This is different from the stomach flu, which is an intestinal infection affecting the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

2. Flu Season Peaks Between December & February

The flu can occur at any time throughout the year. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu viruses most commonly circulate during late fall, winter, and early spring, with activity peaking between December and February.

3. The Flu Usually Spreads Through Airborne Droplets

When we sneeze, cough, or talk, we expel small droplets that can land in the noses or mouths of those around us. And if someone is infected with the flu, their droplets can spread the virus to nearby individuals. The flu can also be spread when infected droplets land on an object and someone else touches the contaminated surface then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

4. The Flu Can Be Spread Before Symptoms Appear

It’s possible for someone to begin spreading the flu virus to others one day before they begin feeling ill. As such, it’s important to always take steps to avoid spreading germs, even if you’re currently feeling healthy.

5. Flu Vaccines Can Help You Avoid Getting Sick

Seasonal flu vaccines contain inactive versions of the flu strains expected to be most common that year, and after you receive a flu shot, your immune system responds by producing antibodies that help defend you against future infections. The CDC recommends that, with rare exceptions, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.

6. The Flu Typically Lasts About a Week

Flu symptoms usually subside on their own in about three to seven days, but certain symptoms—such as coughing and fatigue—may persist for weeks. Children can typically return to school 24 hours after their symptoms resolve.

7. There’s Currently No Cure for the Flu

As was noted above, the flu typically resolves on its own, usually within about a week. While there’s no cure for the flu, certain antiviral medications—like Tamiflu—can help relieve symptoms and shorten recovery times. These medications are most effective when administered within 48 hours after the onset of symptoms, so it’s important to promptly seek treatment.

8. PhysicianOne Urgent Care Offers Flu Tests & Treatment

At PhysicianOne Urgent Care, we want to help keep the communities we serve as healthy as possible. All of our urgent care centers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York are open 365 days per year with extended hours (click here to find the location nearest you). And if you’re worried that your child might already have the flu, you’ll be glad to know that we also offer flu tests (with same-day lab results) as well as treatment for the flu. We even have a 24/7 integrated telehealth service, making us the ideal choice for today’s busy families.

Father and Daughter Having Fun
I had to take my son in for an ear infection following a sudden change in temperament at daycare. He was inconsolable the entire car ride but when we got there and by the time we left this care facility he was back to his normal happy go lucky little two year old boy. I highly recommend PhysicianOne Urgent Care.
Westwood, MA
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