Most everyone has heard the term "flu season" but many people have also experienced symptoms that they thought were caused by the flu during other times of the year as well. So, what's the deal? Can you really get the flu during the summer - or any other time that isn't flu season?
The short answer to this question is yes - you can get the flu any time of year. However, although it is possible to get the flu during the summer, it is extremely unlikely.
Most people who think they have the flu actually have any number of other viruses - not influenza.
The illness that is most often incorrectly referred to as "the flu" is gastroenteritis (also incorrectly called the "stomach flu"). Gastroenteritis is common year round. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, fever and leaves you feeling horrible for a few days. But it is not related to influenza (the actual flu) in any way. It is caused by a different virus and has different symptoms.
If you find yourself dealing with gastroenteritis, we have many resources that can help.
- Check Your Symptoms - Evaluate Your Vomiting
- What To Do When You Are Vomiting
- When to See a Doctor for Nausea, Vomiting and Diarrhea
- When to See a Doctor for Abdominal Pain
Another possibility when you have flu symptoms and it is not flu season is that you have a flu-like illness. This means that you have a viral illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the flu, but it is not caused by influenza.
Flu-like illnesses can make you miserable, but they are less likely to cause severe symptoms and complications than influenza.
On the remote possibility that you actually are diagnosed with influenza outside of flu season, there are things you need to know about this virus as well.
Symptoms of influenza include:
- Body Aches
- Exhaustion and Fatigue
- Some people (typically children) will also experience vomiting and diarrhea
If you suspect that you may have the flu, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. You may need to be seen to get tested and so your doctor can determine if your symptoms are caused by influenza or something else.
If you do have the flu, you likely want to know exactly how long you will feel sick. Unless you live and work alone, you may also wonder how your illness could affect those around you. Get the answers to these questions and learn more about the different types of influenza and how they can make you sick.
Recovering as quickly as possible is probably on your mind as well. Treatment for the flu can range from prescription antiviral medications to just waiting it out. Learn more about the options available to you and figure out which of them are right for you.
If you still aren't sure you have the flu and you haven't made an appointment with your healthcare provider, you can get some guidance here. These tools should not be used to self-diagnose your illness but they may give you an idea of the likely scenarios and help you figure out what to do next.
FluView: A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Prepared by the Influenza Division. Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 12 Jul 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 14 Jul 13.
Key Facts About Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine. Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 13 Feb 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 14 Jul 13.