Know Your Risk for High Blood Pressure

Three generation Hispanic family standing in the park, smiling to camera.

Risk factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure include health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history.

Some of the risk factors for high blood pressure cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.

Some medical conditions can raise your risk for high blood pressure. If you have one of these conditions, you can take steps to manage it and lower your risk for high blood pressure.

Elevated Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure is blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal. High blood pressure usually develops over time. Having blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal increases your risk for developing chronic, or long-lasting, high blood pressure in the future.

If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 129/80 mmHg, you have elevated blood pressure. Learn more about how blood pressure is measured.

You can take steps to manage your blood pressure and keep it in a healthy range.

Diabetes

About 6 out of 10 of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.1Diabetes causes sugars to build up in the blood and also increases the risk for heart disease.

Talk with your doctor about ways to manage diabetes and control other risk factors.

What behaviors increase risk for high blood pressure?

Your lifestyle choices can increase your risk for high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle.

The good news is that healthy behaviors can lower your risk for high blood pressure.

Unhealthy Diet

A diet that is too high in sodium and too low in potassium puts you at risk for high blood pressure.

Eating too much sodium—an element in table salt—increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. Learn more about sodium and high blood pressure.

Not eating enough potassium—a mineral that your body needs to work properly—also can increase blood pressure. Potassium is found in many foods; bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt have high levels of potassium.

Physical Inactivity

Getting regular physical activity helps your heart and blood vessels stay strong and healthy, which may help lower your blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also help you keep a healthy weight, which may also help lower your blood pressure.

Obesity

Having obesity is having excess body fat. Having obesity or overweight also means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around your body. Over time, this can add stress to your heart and blood vessels.

Obesity is linked to higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels. Learn more about cholesterol.

In addition to high blood pressure, having obesity can also lead to heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.

Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.

  • Women should have no more than one drink a day.
  • Men should have no more than two drinks a day.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use increases your risk for high blood pressure. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine raises blood pressure, and breathing in carbon monoxide—which is produced from smoking tobacco—reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.

What other factors increase my risk for high blood pressure?

Family members share genes, behaviors, lifestyles, and environments that can influence their health and their risk for disease. High blood pressure can run in a family, and your risk for high blood pressure can increase based on your age and your race or ethnicity.

Genetics and Family History

When members of a family pass traits from one generation to another through genes, that process is called heredity.

Genes likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.

The risk for high blood pressure can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and eating an unhealthy diet.

Find out more about genetics and disease on CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics website.

Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions people in your family have had. Family health history is a useful tool for understanding health risks and preventing disease. To help people collect and organize information on their family history, CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics collaborated with the Surgeon General and other federal agencies to develop a Web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait.

Other Characteristics

Both men and women can have high blood pressure. Some other characteristics that you cannot control—such as your age, race, or ethnicity—can affect your risk for high blood pressure.

  • Age. Because your blood pressure tends to rise as you get older, your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. About 9 out of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetime.2
  • Sex. Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point during their lives.
  • Race or ethnicity. Black people develop high blood pressure more often than white people, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, or Alaska Natives do. Compared with white people, black people also develop high blood pressure earlier in life.

How to Prevent Flu

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • Flu vaccines help to reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system each year. (Read more about flu vaccine benefits.)
  • This season, all flu vaccines will be designed to protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common. (Visit Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October. Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • Vaccination of people at higher risk of developing serious flu complications is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at higher risk of serious flu complications include young childrenpregnant people, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthmadiabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for people at higher risk to keep from spreading flu to them. This is especially true for people who work in long-term care facilities, which are home to many of the people most vulnerable to flu.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.

Flu Vaccine Finder

Find flu vaccines in your area. 
Everyone 6 months of age and older needs a flu vaccine.

Find Vaccines

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
  • For flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Fever should be gone without the need to use a fever-reducing medicine. Note that the stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different. Learn about some of the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • If you are sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Flu antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complicationsFor people with higher risk factors [308 KB, 2 Pages], treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a higher risk factor or is very sick from flu.
  • If you are at higher risk from flu and get flu symptoms, call your health care provider early so you can be treated with flu antivirals if needed. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Visit CDC’s website to find out what to do if you get sick with flu. Learn about some of the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19, and the difference between flu and the common cold.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.

People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people.  The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.

ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones until around 18 to 24 months of age, and then they stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had.

As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. They may come to the attention of healthcare providers because they also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which occur more often in people with ASD than in people without ASD.

Signs and Symptoms

People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. For people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable.However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.

Treatment

Current treatments for ASD seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs.Treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and are catered to the individual.

Risk Factors

There is not just one cause of ASD. There are many different factors that have been identified that may make a child more likely to have ASD, including environmental, biologic, and genetic factors.

Although we know little about specific causes, the available evidence suggests that the following may put children at greater risk for developing ASD:

  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis
  • Experiencing complications at birth
  • Being born to older parents

CDC is currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date on ASD. This study called the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), was designed to look at the risk factors and behaviors related with ASD.  CDC is now conducting a follow-up study of older children who were enrolled in SEED to determine the health, functioning, and needs of people with ASD and other developmental disabilities as they mature.

How Often ASD Occurs

CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of 8-year-old children with ASD in the United States since 2000.

ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. It is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls.

If You’re Concerned

As a parent, you already have what it takes to help your young child learn and grow. CDC has developed materials to help you track your child’s developmental milestones and share that progress, or any concerns, with your child’s doctor at every check-up.

Contact your child’s doctor if you think your child might have ASD or if you have any other concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts.

If you are still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include

  • Developmental pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child psychologists or psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation, sometimes called a Child Find evaluation, to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services.  You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

  • If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.
    • You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at 919-962-2001.
    • Or visit the ECTA website.
  • If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.
    • Even if your child is not yet old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.
    • If you’re not sure who to contact, call the ECTA at 919-962-2001.
    • Or visit the ECTA website.

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development.3,4 In order to make sure your child reaches their full potential, it is very important to receive services as soon as possible.

Dementia Risk Reduction

A recent study revealed that nearly half of adults aged 40 years and older think they will likely develop dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The truth is dementia is not a normal or inevitable part of typical brain aging. It is also important to remember that as we get older, it is common to experience some cognitive decline with typical brain aging, such as subtle changes in memory, thinking, and  reasoning. For example, you might not immediately remember where you left your car keys, but you can find them when retracing your steps, or you can’t think of the name of a person you just met; however, you remember meeting them. These subtle changes can be frustrating and should not be bad enough to affect your daily life.

Modifiable risk factors are the lifestyle and behaviors that can reduce or increase a person’s chances of developing a disease. For example, there are modifiable risk factors that could reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), slow its progression, or increase your risk of ADRD. Most modifiable risk factors for ADRD are related to cardiovascular disease and other chronic health conditions. They include hypertension, not getting enough physical exercise, obesity, diabetes, depression, smoking, hearing loss, and binge drinking. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing related chronic conditions is good for your overall physical health, facilitates and improves brain health, and may help decrease the risk of dementia or slow its progression.

A new CDC study examined how common these eight risk factors (hypertension, not getting enough physical exercise, obesity, diabetes, depression, smoking, hearing loss, and binge drinking) were among adults 45 years and older:

  • Nearly 50% had high blood pressure or did not meet the aerobic physical activity guideline.
  • Adults with cognitive decline were more likely to report at least 4 factors (34%) than those without cognitive decline (13%).
  • 34% of adults who reported cognitive decline—worsening confusion or memory loss in the previous year—had at least 4 risk factors compared with 13.1% of those without cognitive decline.
  • 9% of adults with no risk factors reported cognitive decline while 25% of those with at least 4 risk factors reported cognitive decline.
  • Several modifiable risk factors were more common among African American, Hispanic, and American Indian or Alaska Native populations than other races and ethnicities.

Older African Americans have twice the incidence and prevalence of ADRD and higher burdens of chronic disease, like hypertension, than non-Hispanic White Americans.

Ways to Improve Your Brain Health

There is encouraging scientific news despite these risk factors: nearly 40% of all ADRD may be prevented or delayed.4 Since ADRD takes years to develop, there are opportunities to develop and maintain healthy lifestyle habits that could reduce your risk of ADRD or slow its progression. It is never too late to break old habits and start new ones.

This healthy lifestyle habits list consists of some things you can do and some things you should try to limit or avoid.

Things You Can Do: 

Things You Should Try to Limit or Avoid:

  • Binge Drinking—If you drink, do so in moderation. Learn about alcohol use and your health.
  • Smoking—Quitting smoking improves your health and reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses.

Assessing Your Weight

A high amount of body fat can lead to weight-related diseases and other health issues. Being underweight is also a health risk. Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are screening tools to estimate weight status in relation to potential disease risk. However, BMI and waist circumference are not diagnostic tools for disease risks. A trained healthcare provider should perform other health assessments to evaluate disease risk and diagnose disease status.

How to Measure and Interpret Weight Status

Adult Body Mass Index or BMI

BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can indicate high body fatness, and a low BMI can indicate too low body fatness. To calculate your BMI, see the BMI Calculator. Or determine your BMI by finding your height and weight in this BMI Index Chart.

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or Healthy Weight range.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

Weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Weight that is lower than what is considered as healthy for a given height is described as underweight.1

At an individual level, BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.

How to Measure Height and Weight for BMI

Height and weight must be measured to calculate BMI. It is most accurate to measure height in meters and weight in kilograms. However, the BMI formula has been adapted for height measured in inches and weight measured in pounds. These measurements can be taken in a healthcare provider’s office, or at home using a tape measure and scale.

For more, see About Adult BMI.

Waist Circumference

How To Measure Your Waist Circumference2

To correctly measure waist circumference:

  • Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones
  • Make sure tape is horizontal around the waist
  • Keep the tape snug around the waist, but not compressing the skin
  • Measure your waist just after you breathe out

Another way to estimate your potential disease risk is to measure your waist circumference. Excessive abdominal fat may be serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Your waistline may be telling you that you have a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are1:

  • A man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches
  • A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches

Waist circumference can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.

Note: The information on these pages is intended for adult men and non-pregnant women only. To assess the weight of children or teenagers, see the Child and Teen BMI Calculator.

Flu Treatment

If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs may be a treatment option.

Check with your doctor promptly if you are at higher risk of serious flu complications and you get flu symptoms.  People at higher risk of flu complications include young children, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant people, and people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For people at higher risk of serious flu complications, treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between milder or more serious illness possibly resulting in a hospital stay. CDC recommends prompt treatment for people who have flu or suspected flu and who are at higher risk of serious flu complications.

How to prevent Flu?

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • Flu vaccines help to reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system each year. (Read more about flu vaccine benefits.
  • This season, all flu vaccines will be designed to protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common. (Visit Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October. Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • Vaccination of people at higher risk of developing serious flu complications is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at higher risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant people, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for people at higher risk to keep from spreading flu to them. This is especially true for people who work in long-term care facilities, which are home to many of the people most vulnerable to flu.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
  • For flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Fever should be gone without the need to use a fever-reducing medicine. Note that the stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different. Learn about some of the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • If you are sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Flu antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with higher risk factors
    [308 KB, 2 Pages], treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a higher risk factor or is very sick from flu.
  • If you are at higher risk from flu and get flu symptoms, call your health care provider early so you can be treated with flu antivirals if needed. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Visit CDC’s website to find out what to do if you get sick with flu. Learn about some of the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19, and the difference between flu and the common cold.

Raw pet foods can make pets and people sick

A healthy diet is important for everyone, even your pets! When picking out the right food for your pet, there are important things to consider.

  • CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets.
  • Germs like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria have been found in raw pet foods, even packaged ones sold in stores. These germs can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.

If you decide to feed your pet raw food

Wash your hands and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw pet food.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water right after handling any raw pet food.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that the raw food touched, like countertops, microwaves, refrigerators and objects like knives, forks, and bowls.

Safely store and handle raw pet food.

  • Freeze raw pet food until you are ready to use it.
  • Keep raw pet food away from other food in your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Don’t thaw frozen raw pet foods on a countertop or in a sink.
  • Throw away any food your pet doesn’t eat.

Safely play with your pet after he or she eats.

  • Don’t let your pet lick around your mouth and face after eating.
  • If you do play with your pet after they have just eaten, wash your hands, and any other parts of your body they licked, with soap and water.
  • Don’t let your pet lick any of your open wounds or areas with broken skin.

Tips to stay healthy while feeding your pet

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats; this is the most important step to prevent illness.
  • When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
  • Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
  • Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.

If you feed your pet reptile or amphibian frozen or live rodents

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling frozen or live feeder rodents.
  • Thaw frozen feeder rodents in a dedicated container out of the kitchen.
  • Never feed wild rodents to your pet.

Dry and canned pet food

Dry and canned pet food also can be contaminated with germs. Before making any changes to your pet’s diet, talk with your veterinarian.

Children and pets

  • Young children are at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
  • Children younger than 5 years old should not touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements.
  • Adults should supervise young children when washing hands.
Pet food

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications.  There are two main types of influenza (flu) viruses: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

The best way to reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications is by getting vaccinated each year.

Flu Symptoms

Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

More information is available at  Flu and COVID-19 symptoms.

On This Page

  • What is Influenza (also called Flu)?
  • How Flu Spreads
  • How Many People Get Sick with Flu Every Year?
  • Period of Contagiousness
  • Onset of Symptoms
  • Complications of Flu
  • People at High Risk from Flu
  • Preventing Seasonal Flu
  • Diagnosing Flu
  • Treating Flu

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.

How Many People Get Sick with Flu Every Year?

A 2018 CDC study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases

looked at the percentage of the U.S. population who were sickened by flu using two different methods and compared the findings. Both methods had similar findings, which suggested that on average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season, with a range of between 3% and 11%, depending on the season.

Why is the 3% to 11% estimate different from the previously cited 5% to 20% range?

The commonly cited 5% to 20% estimate was based on a study that examined both symptomatic and asymptomatic influenza illness, which means it also looked at people who may have had the flu but never knew it because they didn’t have any symptoms. The 3% to 11% range is an estimate of the proportion of people who have symptomatic flu illness.

Who is most likely to be infected with influenza?

The same CID study

found that children are most likely to get sick from flu and that people 65 and older are least likely to get sick from influenza. Median incidence values (or attack rate) by age group were 9.3% for children 0-17 years, 8.8% for adults 18-64 years, and 3.9% for adults 65 years and older. This means that children younger than 18 are more than twice as likely to develop a symptomatic flu infection than adults 65 and older.

How is seasonal incidence of influenza estimated?

Influenza virus infection is so common that the number of people infected each season can only be estimated. These statistical estimations are based on CDC-measured flu hospitalization rates that are adjusted to produce an estimate of the total number of influenza infections in the United States for a given flu season.

The estimates for the number of infections are then divided by the census population to estimate the seasonal incidence (or attack rate) of influenza.

Does seasonal incidence of influenza change based on the severity of flu season?

Yes. The proportion of people who get sick from flu varies. A paper published in CID

found that between 3% and 11% of the U.S. population gets infected and develops flu symptoms each year. The 3% estimate is from the 2011-2012 season, which was an H1N1-predominant season classified as being of low severity. The estimated incidence of flu illness during two seasons was around 11%; 2012-2013 was an H3N2-predominant season classified as being of moderate severity, while 2014-2015 was an H3N2 predominant season classified as being of high severity.

Table 1. Estimates of the Incidence of Symptomatic Influenza by Season and Age-Group, United States, 2010–2016

SeasonPredominant Virus(es)Season SeverityIncidence, %, by Age Group













0-4 yrs
5-17 yrs
18-49 yrs
50-64 yrs
≥65 yrs
All Ages
2010-11A/H3N2, A/H1N1pdm09Moderate14.1
8.4
5.3
8.1
4.3
6.8
2011-12A/H3N2Low4.8
3.6
2.5
3.1
2.3
3.0
2012-13A/H3N2Moderate18.6
12.7
8.9
14.3
9.9
11.3
2013-14A/H1N1pdm09Moderate12.4
7.2
9.2
13.0
3.4
9.0
2014-15A/H3N2High15.0
12.7
7.8
12.9
12.4
10.8
2015-16A/H1N1pdm09Moderate11.1
7.4
7.1
11.0
3.5
7.6
Median

13.2
7.9
7.4
12.0
3.9
8.3

Period of Contagiousness

You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

  • People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Onset of Symptoms

The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days, but can range from about 1 to 4 days.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

Preventing Seasonal Flu

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

Diagnosing Flu

It is very difficult to distinguish flu from other viral or bacterial respiratory illnesses based on symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. More information is available: Diagnosing Flu.

Treating Flu

There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.

Influenza

What is ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.

Signs and Symptoms

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.

A child with ADHD might:

  • daydream a lot
  • forget or lose things a lot
  • squirm or fidget
  • talk too much
  • make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
  • have a hard time resisting temptation
  • have trouble taking turns
  • have difficulty getting along with others

Types

There are three different ways ADHD presents itself, depending on which types of symptoms are strongest in the individual:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
  • Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.

Causes of ADHD

Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies link genetic factors with ADHD.1

In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:

  • Brain injury
  • Exposure to environmental risks (e.g., lead) during pregnancy or at a young age
  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight

Research does not support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos. Of course, many things, including these, might make symptoms worse, especially in certain people. But the evidence is not strong enough to conclude that they are the main causes of ADHD.

Diagnosis

Deciding if a child has ADHD is a process with several steps. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD usually includes a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child.

Treatments

In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. For preschool-aged children (4-5 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy, particularly training for parents, is recommended as the first line of treatment before medication is tried. What works best can depend on the child and family. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups, and making changes, if needed, along the way.

Managing Symptoms: Staying Healthy

Being healthy is important for all children and can be especially important for children with ADHD. In addition to behavioral therapy and medication, having a healthy lifestyle can make it easier for your child to deal with ADHD symptoms. Here are some healthy behaviors that may help:

Get Help!

If you or your doctor has concerns about ADHD, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist, child psychiatrist, or developmental pediatrician, or you can contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds the National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Their website has links to information for people with ADHD and their families. The National Resource Center operates a call center (1-866-200-8098) with trained staff to answer questions about ADHD.

For more information on services for children with special needs, visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources.  To find the Parent Center near you, you can visit this website.

ADHD in Adults

ADHD can last into adulthood. Some adults have ADHD but have never been diagnosed. The symptoms can cause difficulty at work, at home, or with relationships. Symptoms may look different at older ages, for example, hyperactivity may appear as extreme restlessness. Symptoms can become more severe when the demands of adulthood increase. For more information about diagnosis and treatment throughout the lifespan, please visit the websites of the National Resource Center on ADHD and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

COVID-19: Information for parenting children with ADHD

Monkeypox symptoms

People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

You may experience all or only a few symptoms

  • Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
  • Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
  • Others only experience a rash.

How long do monkeypox symptoms last?

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.

If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you.

When you see a healthcare provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.

What to Do If You Are Sick

There is no treatment specifically for monkeypox. Because the viruses that cause monkeypox and smallpox are closely related, drugs and vaccines developed to treat and protect against smallpox may be effective for monkeypox.

However, the type of treatment for a person with monkeypox will depend on how sick someone gets or whether they’re likely to get severely ill. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.

Some people, like those with a weakened immune system or genital or rectal rashes, may need treatment. Drugs used to treat monkeypox require a prescription and must be requested by a healthcare provider through the local or state health department.

Taking Care of Yourself

  • Use gauze or bandages to cover the rash to limit spread to others and to the environment.
  • Don’t lance (pop) or scratch lesions from the rash. This does not speed up recovery and can spread the virus to other parts of the body, increase the chance of spreading the virus to others, and possibly cause the open lesions to become infected by bacteria.
  • Do not shave the area with the rash until the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed. Shaving can spread the virus and cause more lesions.
  • Keep skin lesions/rash clean and dry when not showering or bathing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with the rash.
    • If you have rash on your hands, be careful when washing or using sanitizer so as not to irritate the rash.
  • If you have rash on your hands, wear gloves that are non-irritating when handling common objects or touching surfaces in shared spaces. If you can, use disposable gloves that can be discarded after each use (e.g., latex, polyurethane, or nitrile gloves). Reusable gloves should be washed with soap and water between use.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around other people until the rash and all other symptoms have resolved.
  • Eat healthy and get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal.

Managing Your Symptoms

Medicines like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help you feel better. Your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger pain relievers as well.

For rash in the mouth, rinse with salt water at least four times a day. Prescription mouthwashes, sometimes called miracle or magic mouthwash, or local anesthetics like viscous lidocaine can be used to manage pain. Oral antiseptics like chlorhexidine mouthwash can be used to help keep the mouth clean.

Contact your healthcare provider if pain becomes severe and unmanageable at home.

Rash Relief

The most important thing is to try to not touch or scratch the rash. This can spread the rash to other parts of the body, increase the chance of spreading the virus to others, and possibly cause open lesions to become infected by bacteria. If you do accidentally touch the rash, wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching sensitive areas like your eyes, nose, mouth, genitals and rectum (butthole).

Topical benzocaine/lidocaine gels can be used for temporary relief. Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl and topical creams such as calamine lotion or petroleum jelly may help with itching.

Soaking in a warm bath (using oatmeal or other over-the-counter bath products for itchy skin) may offer some relief to the dry, itchy sensations that can come with the rash.

People who have the rash in or around their anus (butthole) or genitals (penis, testicles, labia, vagina), or perineum (taint) may also benefit from a sitz-bath. A sitz bath is a round, shallow basin that can be purchased online or at a pharmacy. Most fit over the rim of a toilet but can also be placed in a bathtub. There is also the option to sit in a bathtub with shallow water. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication like povidone-iodine or other products to be added to the water in a sitz bath. Adding Epsom salt, vinegar, or baking soda to the water can be soothing.