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The fall signifies more than football games and colorful autumn leaves: It heralds the start of the flu season, which generally starts in the fall and continues through April. Each year, 5 to 20 percent of Americans will get the flu. For many, this respiratory illness is a major inconvenience, but for others – particularly the young, the elderly ,and those with compromised immune systems—the flu can be deadly.

The flu—which is short for influenza—is a virus that causes a respiratory illness. Typically, the flu lasts for one to two weeks. While the flu and the common cold have very similar symptoms, flu symptoms are more intense and extreme. Your doctor can give you a test to determine if you have a cold or the flu. Flu symptoms typically present hard and progress quickly – this is one way to tell the difference between a simple cold vs. the flu.


  • Fever that is usually over 100 degrees, although not everyone with the flu has a fever
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Chills
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Cough and/or sore throat

Flu germs are spread whenever someone with the flu sneezes or coughs near you or on you. You can also get the flu from touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose or face. Without proper treatment, the flu can lead to dangerous complications, particularly dehydration and pneumonia.


The best way to treat the flu is to avoid getting the flu. Raleigh Medical Group offers flu shots and vaccinations each year to reduce your risk of getting the flu. If you have any questions about the vaccine, we encourage you to speak with one of our doctors.

If you already have the flu, antiviral medications may help, but because the flu is a virus, antibiotics are not effective . The best treatment options for the flu is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and follow your physician’s recommendations. Several over-the-counter medicines can help ease flu symptoms, and you should keep your physician informed about any of these you are taking. If you are diagnosed with the flu, do not go to school or work. This will help keep you from contaminating others. 

A flu vaccine can protect you against certain types of flu viruses. You can not get the flu from a flu vaccination, because the vaccination is comprised of “dead” or inactive flu viruses. The vaccine can be administered by a shot in the arm, as a nasal spray, or even as a “micro-shot” given on the skin of the arm. All adults and children six months old and older should receive the flu vaccination. However, you should speak with your physician if you have respiratory problems or if you are allergic to eggs to determine if you should have the vaccination. 

Typically, flu shots are available in September. Please check the updates to our Raleigh Medical Group website for announcements concerning flu vaccine availability.

For some people, the flu can become deadly. You should seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Confusion and/or dizziness
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
  • Seizures


One of the simplest and most effective ways of preventing the flu is to wash your hands often and thoroughly, using soap and warm water or hand cleaner. Try to avoid being around those who are sick, and try to remain healthy by eating nutritious foods and keeping chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, under control. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, and remember to throw away the tissue and wash your hands immediately afterward. 

If you have to care for someone who has the flu, try to keep the sick person in one area of the house, designating it as a “sick room.” If you have more than one bathroom, designate one for use by the sick person. Remember to clean the sick room and bathrooms daily with disinfectant.

For more information on the flu and to track flu activity in your area, visit

Raleigh Medical Group  |  3521 Haworth Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609  |  office: 919.782.1806  |   fax: 919-782-4756
Monday through Thursday : 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Friday 8 am – 1:45 pm   |   Saturday Sick Clinic (by appointment only): 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at our Raleigh Adult Medicine site (map)

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