Double Trouble: Can You Get the Flu Twice?

woman with flu symptoms

As the seasons change and the air grows colder, one annual question resurfaces: “Can you get the flu twice?” The answer may surprise you; yes, it is possible to experience the discomfort and inconvenience of the flu twice in one season. However, the reality of catching the flu multiple times is more complex than it first appears. Different strains of influenza virus, residual symptoms, and the overlapping symptoms of other illnesses can all contribute to confusion. 

In this blog, we will discuss the possibility of getting the flu twice, the symptoms of the flu, how to treat it, when to seek medical care, and, most importantly, how to protect yourself from it. 

Is it Possible to Get the Flu Twice? 

While it’s possible to contract the flu twice, it’s essential to differentiate between various scenarios:

Different Flu Strains

There are multiple strains of the flu, such as Influenza A (H1N1, H3N2) and Influenza B. Different strains of the common flu may dominate each flu season. So, if you’ve contracted one of the flu viruses, you can still catch a different one, either in the same season or in subsequent years.

Residual Symptoms

Flu symptoms can linger for weeks, making you feel as if you’ve caught the flu again. Fatigue, cough, and weakness can persist after the initial illness. It’s important to understand that these are residual symptoms, not a second bout of the flu.

Other Illnesses

Many respiratory illnesses share common symptoms with the flu, such as colds, COVID-19, bacterial infections, and even other viral infections. It’s possible to mistake one of these for the flu, leading to the belief that you’ve contracted the flu twice when it’s an entirely different ailment.

Symptoms of the Flu

Recognizing the symptoms of the flu is essential in differentiating it from other illnesses. Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Runny Nose
  • Chills

Treating the Flu

If you suspect you have the flu, it’s important to manage your symptoms and seek medical care if necessary:

Rest

Rest is crucial for your body to recover. Give it the time it needs to heal.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if you have a fever.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate some symptoms. Pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can reduce fever and pain. Cough and cold medicines may help with congestion.

Antiviral Medications

In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral infection medications. These can reduce the severity and duration of the flu if taken early.

Isolate Yourself

To prevent the spread of the virus, stay home and isolate yourself from others. The CDC recommends you self-isolate for 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms; that way, you can figure out whether it is the flu or a different illness, such as COVID-19. Self-isolating is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since individuals with the flu are contagious for the first 48 hours of their illness. 

When to Seek Medical Care

While most cases of the flu can be managed at home, there are situations in which you should seek medical attention:

Severe Symptoms

If you have difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, severe dehydration, or high fever, contact a healthcare professional or visit a nearby medical center immediately.

High-Risk Groups

If you are in a high-risk group, such as young children, the elderly, or individuals with chronic medical conditions, consult a healthcare provider when you suspect the flu.

Worsening Symptoms

If your symptoms worsen after an initial improvement, consult a healthcare professional or seek emergency medical care.

doctor applying a band aid to a patient

Preventing Further Illness

Preventing the flu and potential complications is the best approach. Here are some steps to keep in mind:

Get Vaccinated

Getting annual flu vaccines is the most effective way to prevent the flu. It’s especially important for high-risk individuals if their immune systems can handle getting the flu shot

Practice Good Hygiene

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid close contact with sick individuals, and cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

Stay Home When Sick

If you are sick, stay home to avoid infecting others.

Boost Your Immune System

A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can boost your immune system’s resilience.

Keep Your Environment Clean

Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls.

Flu Care at Exceptional ER

The question “Can you get the flu twice?” is not a straightforward one. Multiple types of flu strains and overlapping symptoms with other respiratory illnesses can make it seem like you’ve experienced it more than once. However, understanding the nuances of the flu and its symptoms, seeking early diagnosis, and taking preventive measures are the keys to staying healthy during flu season and beyond. 

Exceptional ER is here to assist you if you ever face severe flu symptoms or require professional medical care. Our dedicated healthcare providers are ready to offer the best care and guidance to help you on your journey to recovery. Remember, staying informed, vigilant, and proactive is the best strategy for ensuring your well-being and keeping the flu at bay.

Scroll to Top
Exceptional ER Logo

COVID-19 TESTING UPDATE:

The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.