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Influenza, or flu, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. It's not the same as the stomach "flu" that causes diarrhea and vomiting.
Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don't need to see a doctor. Sometimes influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:
- Young children under 5, especially those under 2
- Adults older than 65
- Nursing home or long-term care facility residents
- Pregnant and up to two week postpartum women
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
- People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Taking antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours after you first notice symptoms may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more-serious problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older. Though the annual flu vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, it's still your best defense against the flu.
We care about helping you stay healthy. Contact your provider to learn more about how you can get a flu shot, or choose a location for your local flu shot information.