Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and the lungs. The flu is different from a cold, and usually comes on suddenly. Each year flu viruses cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths in the United States.
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly by droplets made when someone with flu coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. A person also can get flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes, or nose.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Some similar symptoms between the two may include:
The first and best way to protect against flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine for yourself and your child.