Can You Get the Flu in the Summer?

Woman with flu lying in bed
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Most everyone has heard the term "flu season," but many people have also experienced symptoms they thought were caused by the flu during other times of the year as well. So, what's the deal? Can you really get the flu during the summer or any other time that isn't flu season?

Could It Really Be the Flu?

The short answer to this question is yes—you can get the flu any time of year. However, although it is possible to get the flu during the summer, it is extremely unlikely.

Most people who think they have the flu actually have any number of other viruses—not influenza.

Stomach Flu

The illness that is most often incorrectly referred to as "the flu" is gastroenteritis (also inaccurately called the "stomach flu"). Gastroenteritis is common year round. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and leaves you feeling horrible for a few days. But it is not related to influenza (the actual flu) in any way. It is caused by a different virus and has different symptoms.

Flu-Like Illnesses

Another possibility when you have flu symptoms and it is not flu season is that you have a flu-like illness. This means that you have a viral illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the flu, but it is not caused by influenza.

Flu-like illnesses can make you miserable, but they are less likely to cause severe symptoms and complications than influenza.


On the remote possibility that you actually are diagnosed with influenza outside of flu season, there are things you need to know about this virus as well.

Symptoms of influenza include:

  • fever
  • body aches
  • cough
  • headache
  • chills
  • exhaustion and fatigue
  • congestion
  • Some people (typically children) will also experience vomiting and diarrhea

If you suspect that you may have the flu, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. You may need to be seen to get tested so your doctor can determine if your symptoms are caused by influenza or something else.

If you do have the flu, you likely want to know exactly how long you will feel sick. Unless you live and work alone, you may also wonder how long the flu is contagious.

Recovering as quickly as possible is probably on your mind as well. Treatment for the flu can range from prescription antiviral medications to just waiting it out. Learn more about the options available to you, figure out which of them are right for you, and consider getting your flu shot next year.


FluView: A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Prepared by the Influenza Division. Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 12 Jul 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Key Facts About Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine. Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 13 Feb 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services.

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