Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can I get influenza in the summer?"
I have a very bad cold. I am 31 and it's almost summer. Could it be the flu? I had a fever but now it broke.
The influenza virus is present year-round, with a higher prevalence in the fall and winter. It is spread by airborne droplets, such as from sneezing, coughing, or touching items that have been in contact with those type of secretions. For example, if someone with the flu sneezes into his hand and then touches a doorknob, then the doorknob can become a vector for transmitting the flu virus to people who touch it. You should always wash your hands after sneezing and before touching your own face or food, to prevent this type of transmission of the flu and other viruses. The flu shot helps to protect against contracting influenza, but unfortunately it does not offer 100% protection, due to annual changes in the genetic makeup of the flu virus. Typical symptoms of influenza are fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, and sometimes abdominal pain and nausea or diarrhea. If you think you have the flu, you should see your primary care doctor, who can perform a nasal swab test for the flu virus. Other respiratory viruses can cause similar symptoms, without actually being influenza. Whether or not you have influenza, or just another type of virus, you should be sure to drink plenty of fluids, sleep at least 7-8 hours per night, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and wash your hands.
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