According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is a viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus can range from mild to severe, and can even lead to death. During the colder season, flu viruses are more common; however, it can occur outside of flu season as well. Getting annual flu vaccines is the best way to prevent the flu.
Symptoms of the flu may include:
• Fever or chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue; and
• Vomiting or diarrhea, which is found to be more common in children than adults
According to the CDC, most experts believe flu viruses spread through droplets made when people cough, sneeze, or talk. It is very possible to pass on flu symptoms to others up to 1 day before getting sick, as well as being able to pass on symptoms for up to 7 days after becoming sick.
Flu has its complications; including:
• Bacterial pneumonia
• Ear infections
• Sinus infections; and
• Worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes
Anyone can be at risk for the flu; however, people over 65 years of age, people with chronic medical conditions, children, and pregnant women have a greater chance of becoming infected.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, check with your doctor or health care provider to get diagnosed. Laboratory tests such as the influenza diagnostic test can also be done to diagnose the flu.
If you get the flu, anti-viral drugs are a treatment option, and are only available through a prescription from your doctor. According to the CDC, the benefits of anti-viral drugs are that it can reduce symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days. It can also prevent pneumonia.
Getting a flu vaccination each year is strongly recommended in order to prevent the flu. Additionally, staying away from people who have the flu, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing can help keep germs from spreading and causing respiratory illnesses.