Influenza | Flu

Being sick with the flu is hard on you and your loved ones. At MaineHealth, our highly trained staff can help provide the care and treatment you and your loved ones need. 


What is the flu?

The flu (or Influenza) is a contagious viral infection. The flu can spread when people cough, sneeze or talk. A flu vaccine protects people against the most common flu viruses. Flu season typically falls between October and May. The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu shot for anyone six months or older. Talk to your provider about getting a flu shot.

The flu vaccine is recommended by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention for all people older than six months. It takes about two weeks for a flu shot for it to become fully effective. Talk to your MaineHealth provider about making an appointment to get a vaccination.

For more information on where to get a flu shot, visit the Maine CDC website.

Flu Symptoms

Fever and Body Aches May Be the Flu

The flu can progress in many different ways, but common symptoms include:

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headaches

  • Feeling overly tired

  • Fever/chills

  • Vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu Diagnosis

Are Anti-Viral Drugs the Right Choice?

Contact your primary care provider if you believe you or a loved one has the flu. Talk to your doctor about whether antiviral medication is a good choice. Antiviral drugs work best when prescribed within two days of getting the flu. These drugs are not available over the counter, but must be prescribed by your doctor.

Some People Are at Higher Risk of Complications


Anyone can get sick with the flu. In certain cases, antiviral medication can be prescribed to help combat influenza. Most of the time, people do not need antiviral drugs and will recover within two weeks. However, some people are at a higher risk of having complications from the flu. Patients can get seriously ill and need to be hospitalized. Complications can include sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. People at risk of flu complications include:

  • Anyone 65 years old and older

  • Kids five years old and younger

  • Pregnant women

  • Patients with long term-health conditions, including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, kidney problems, HIV/AIDS and diabetes

  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Flu Treatment

Get Rest and Drink Plenty of Fluids

Most often with the flu people do not need medical care. If you have concerns, contact your provider. Your provider may advise you to get rest, drink lots of fluids and limit contact so that you do not infect others.

  • Bed rest
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed
  • Stay home until you are better

When Is It Safe to Return to Work or School?

You need to stay home for 24 hours after a fever has gone away.

Call Your Provider

If you have any of the following medical conditions and get the flu, contact your provider. The flu can make certain health conditions worse. You may need additional treatment.

  • Asthma
  • Blood disorders
  • Cancer
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Extreme obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders


How to Avoid the Flu

Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. People who are older, have a history of asthma or other respiratory illnesses, or have other chronic medical conditions should be careful to avoid contracting the flu.

Practicing good hand hygiene by using soap and water or an antibacterial hand sanitizer is important. If you are sick, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm (and not your hands), stay home as much as possible when sick and wear a medical mask if you must go outside while ill with the flu.

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