Influenza FAQs


What is influenza?

Influenza is a virus that causes upper and lower respiratory tract infection. Influenza occurs worldwide and usually during the late fall and winter months in Canada. Recovery usually takes 7 to 10 days. Complications can occur causing much more serious illness.

Influenza spreads easily from person to person. People of all ages can get infected but the elderly and children are more vulnerable to influenza.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about influenza. 

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms typically include the sudden onset of headache, fever, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever (not everyone will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Very tired
  • Maybe vomiting and diarrhea, especially in children

For most people, the flu is uncomfortable and tiring. It can keep people in bed for days or even longer.

What are the complications of influenza?

Some people are more at risk for serious complications from the flu, including seniors, young children, and people with long-term lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Flu can make asthma symptoms worse and cause COPD flare-ups.

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. 

Who should get vaccinated this Season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is supported at Joseph Brant Hospital to keep patients, families and staff safe  from influenza.

How does the flu spread?

Most experts believe that influenza  spreads by droplets made with coughing, sneezing or even speaking. These droplets can carry the virus to  the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Influenza can also be left on surfaces or objects  that have been contaminated by an ill person such as toys, doorknobs, utensils, or unwashed hands , and can be picked up by someone else when touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

How can I prevent the flu?

The best way to prevent influenza is to get immunized every  year. Talk to your doctor about getting the flu shot. This season's flu vaccine will protect against influenza viruses that have been predicted to be most common during the season.

Handwashing is one important way of preventing spread. Alcohol hand gel is very effective in killing the flu virus from your hands. Cough or sneeze into your arm so hands are not contaminated. When in hospital ask your healthcare workers and visitors if they have cleaned their hands. You have every right to feel safe.

Healthcare workers at Joseph Brant Hospital are committed to protecting patients and their families from influenza with influenza immunization, good hand cleaning and sometimes by wearing masks to cover their mouth and nose. You may see some of your providers, including physicians, wearing masks in patient care areas when they cannot be immunized. This is to do their best to protect patients and their families from infection with the flu. Even if they do not feel sick, a mask may be worn, because influenza can be contagious for a day before symptoms even start.

When am I contagious?

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

If you are sick yourself, please do not visit the hospital. Patients are more vulnerable to influenza when they are already sick or injured.

How do I manage the flu at home?

Stay home and rest.

Drink lots of fluids.

Wash your hands and clean common areas.

Stay away from crowds and other people to avoid spreading the infection.

See your family doctor if you have concerns about your illness.

Remember influenza can be serious and if you or your loved one are unable to cope at home, have trouble with breathing, or other concerns like confusion, pain or pressure in the chest, for example, seek Emergency care or call 911.

Where can I find more information?

Please refer to:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Lung Association

Halton Region Flu Facts

Influenza Immunization Clinics in the Halton Region

Ontario Health and Long Term Care



December 2015

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