Skip to navigation Skip to Content

Seasonal Flu

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The seasonal flu is a major health care concern that happens every year. For many people, seasonal flu may be mild and require little or no medical treatment.

However, for others, the seasonal flu causes severe consequences. Health officials estimate that on average about 24,000 people die and another 200,000 require hospitalization each flu season.

Marshfield Clinic wants you to have the best information available to protect yourself and those close to you.

What is seasonal flu?

Seasonal flu, sometimes called the "flu," is a viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs that ranks as one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season.

People sick with seasonal flu can spread it to others by sneezing or coughing. The seasonal flu can also spread through soiled personal articles such as dishes, facial tissues or towels.

Seasonal flu may lead to hospitalization or even death, especially among the elderly. An estimated 10-20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu annually.

What are the symptoms of seasonal flu?

Symptoms of the seasonal flu include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Sudden chills
  • Dry cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite

Seasonal flu may also cause more severe complications including:

  • Pneumonia 
  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Other respiratory complications
  • Extreme fatigue lasting several days to weeks

Prevention of seasonal flu

There is a vaccine to protect against the seasonal flu. Immunization against the seasonal flu must be done each year because the strains of the seasonal flu viruses can change each year. Last year's seasonal flu shot will not protect you from this year's seasonal flu viruses.

The worst of the seasonal flu season is usually late December through March. A vaccination every year as soon as vaccine is available is the best way to prevent the seasonal flu.

High risk groups for the seasonal flu

High-risk groups, which mean those people most at risk from severe complication, should make every effort to get the seasonal flu shot:

Consult your personal provider (physician) if you are unsure whether you or a family member falls into the high-risk group for seasonal flu.

Treatment of seasonal flu

Many cases of seasonal flu are mild and require little or no medical attention. However, some people develop severe symptoms and complications leading to hospitalization and death in some cases.

Is the seasonal flu shot safe?

You cannot get seasonal flu from the shot. It is very safe and effective and generally has few side effects, such as a sore arm for a day or two.

Once in a while, a slight fever can occur and last about two days. However, the risks from the disease are much greater than the risks from the vaccine.

Other vaccinations may be given on the same day and pneumonia vaccine should be considered for adults age 65 and older, or those at high risk.