It’s that time of year again. Re-familiarize yourself with what the flu is, how it spreads, the best prevention techniques and if you do get sick, how to find the most convenient care.

Your Health, Family Health | 9 months ago

Stay Ahead of This Year's Flu Season Using this Comprehensive Guide

Each year, millions of Americans get sick with the flu. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can even lead to death. Here, experts weigh in on important steps you or your family should take in order to stay healthy. 

UPDATE JANUARY 7, 2019: Effective at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Atrium Health is restricting hospital access for visitors 12 years old and under at all of its greater Charlotte area in-patient hospitals. READ MORE

Flu season is upon us once again. What can we expect for this year’s strain? Experts are predicting a possibly severe wave of this year’s influenza virus, posing a threat of hospitalization or even death if not treated appropriately. To help keep you and your families healthy throughout the 2019-20 season, we’re here to help you and your families prepare.

(1) What You Need to Know this Flu Season

 Re-familiarize yourself with what the flu is, how it spreads and the best prevention techniques. And if you do get sick, know how to find the most convenient care. 

(2) Pregnant and Trying to Conceive? Don’t Skip the Flu Shot

With flu season lasting from October to May, messages urging every American to roll up their sleeves for their flu shot. One group that especially shouldn’t skip the flu shot is expectant mothers and women who are trying to conceive. 

(3) Parents’ Top Flu Questions About Children Answered

Whether you’re an expecting parent, a new parent or a seasoned veteran, we all have questions about kids and the flu. Rhonda Patt, MD, medical director, Charlotte Pediatric Clinic, has answers to some of the top questions that parents when it comes to the flu and their children. 

(4) 5 Simple Ways to Prevent the Flu

Every year, you hear about new ways to prevent the flu. Elderberry syrup and Greek yogurt, zinc and acupuncture – they’re all touted to fight the flu. But the truth is, they’re not all proven to work; in fact, some aren’t even proven to be safe. Fortunately, these 5 tips for preventing the flu are doctor-approved and oh, so simple.    

(5) The Importance of the Flu Shot for Those with Diabetes

For people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, avoiding the flu is especially important. Those with the disease, even when well-managed, are at a higher risk of certain flu-related health complications, including pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections or worsening of existing health conditions. That’s why it’s so important to get a flu shot in order to lower your risks of developing serious flu-related complications.

(6) So You Think You've Got the Flu, Now What? 

If you believe you might have the flu, there are some symptoms to look out for and ways to treat them. Andres Sanchez, MD, explains what to do if you suspect you have the flu and when to seek medical care.

(7) Knowing Where to Go for Healthcare Is as Simple as Ordering Coffee

If you need to see a doctor, it's important to know where to go. At Atrium Health, "we have an app for that." So, seeing a doctor is as easy as ordering a coffee from your favorite app. Now, to break down the pathway to healthcare in a way that makes sense – think about getting your healthcare the same way you order your coffee: Tall, Grande, Venti.

Get care when you need it the most. Visit to make an online reservation today.

Is the flu going around near you? Download the new Sneez App to see what is going around in your area and to report your symptoms. The Sneez App is free and available to download in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about the Sneez App.

Flu FAQs

Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by viruses. Keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches and/or body aches and pain
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?

It’s easy to confuse a cold with the flu since their symptoms can be so similar. Both are respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses. People with colds are more likely to have runny or stuffy noses, while the telltale signs of the flu is that symptoms are often worse and you are more likely to have fever and chills. The flu can result in complications, so it’s best to be diagnosed early and treated by a medical professional.

If I get vaccinated, can I still get the flu?

Yes, but vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. And if you’re vaccinated and still catch the flu, the vaccine can actually help reduce the severity of your symptoms or shorten how long you’re sick.

How does the flu spread?

The flu is spread mainly from person to person, usually through coughing, sneezing and talking. It’s also possible to catch the flu by touching something with the flu virus on it, then touching your mouth or nose.

You’re most likely to catch the flu during late fall, winter and early spring.

How long is the flu contagious?

You can spread the flu before you even know you’re sick, as well as after most symptoms have gone away.

Adults with the flu are contagious as early as one day before any symptoms appear and as long as a week or more after they start feeling sick. Children can be contagious for even longer.

Are there medicines to treat the flu?

Yes. But most people with mild cases of the flu don’t need medication.  

In early 2019, a new antiviral named Xofluza became available.  This medication is approved only for those who are 12 and over who have uncomplicated influenza that can be managed as an outpatient and have had symptoms for less than 48 hours at the time of presentation. 

Flu medications should only be considered if you’re sick enough to go to the hospital or if you have conditions that put you at risk for more serious flu complications – like pneumonia, lung disease or a weakened immune system.


Your healthcare provider will decide if your illness requires flu medication.