The flu season has begun, but there are ways to prevent it to avoid missing school or work.
Dr. John Viteritti, medical director network management and provider of operations with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said flu season is at its strongest between December and January, with peaks in February.
"Anyone can be affected," he said.
The extremes of age, as in the very young and very old, receive the most concern because they are the most likely to have complications.
The best way to prevent the flu is simple.
"Everyone should get a flu shot," he said.
Children 6 months to 4 years initially receive two doses of the flu shot. After that, they are given a single shot.
Good hygiene also plays a role in avoiding sickness. He suggested hand washing.
"Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing," Viteritti said. "If you know someone who has influenza, maintain some distance so you aren't getting spray."
Symptoms of the flu are an abrupt high fever, headache, night chills and a cough.
A healthy person who catches the flu should get lots of rest and take Tylenol, which is acetaminophen, for a fever, he said.
It is at the judgment of the physician whether or not a sick person should receive anti-viral medications. They have to be given within 48 hours to be most effective.
On whether or not to visit the doctor after catching the flu, he suggested adults do so if they have any trouble breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, stomach pain, dizziness, confusion and generally are acting inappropriately.
Children should be seen by the doctor if they're purple or blue, not drinking well, looking dehydrated, not interacting well with their parents, are sleepy and have a rash and fever.