Know the Facts: Seasonal Influenza


The symptoms of the seasonal influenza virus include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also reported diarrhea and vomiting. Seasonal flu can vary in severity from mild to severe, and may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

The influenza virus is spread mainly through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days or more after becoming sick.

What To Do If You Get Sick

If you are sick with influenza like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider. If you are sick, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. Stay home/ out of school for at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100 degree F) without the use of fever reducing medication. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Clean your hands every time you cough or sneeze. Antiviral medication, obtained by prescription, may be indicated if you have a pre-existing medical condition that puts you at high risk for complications from influenza.

Some Complications of the flu require medical attention. Contact a Health Professional for the following symptoms:

  • In Children: fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash.
  • In Adults: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting.

Actions You Can Take

To help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
  • If you get sick stay home from work, school, and errands, and limit contact with others until you are free of fever without the use of fever reducing medication, for at least 24 hours.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (15- 20 seconds), especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Sarah Lawrence College Health and Wellness Center is available to answer your questions regarding influenza (flu). Students who seek medical attention can call for an appointment: (914) 395-2350

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

Get the details on SLC's administration of the Seasonal Influenza (Flu) vaccine at the Flu Vaccination page.