What is Influenza (Flu)?
The flu is a contagious, respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms can be mild to fatal.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
If you believe you have the flu, contact your healthcare provider. Symptoms include:
- Fever – not everyone will get a fever with the flu
- Sore throat
- Runny nose/congestion
- Body aches
- Vomiting/diarrhea – more common in children
How does the flu spread?
It is believed that the flu spreads through respiratory droplets when someone sneezes, coughs, or spits and somebody breathes in the droplets. It can also spread by touching an infected surface. It can spread 1 day before a person notices their symptoms and 5 to 7 days after a persons symptoms end. A person’s symptoms can occur 1-4 days after they catch the virus. The flu is more common in the colder months, typically from October-April.
What are complications associated with the flu?
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections
More serious complications include:
- Heart failure
Who is at risk for the flu?
Anybody can catch the flu, even if they are healthy. People who are especially at high-risk include:
- Adults over 65
- People with chronic medical conditions
- Pregnant women
- Young children
How is the flu diagnosed?
It is difficult to diagnose the flu, because it can resemble other respiratory illnesses. A doctor can usually diagnose the flu based on symptoms, but a flu test may be necessary in some cases. Flu tests normally diagnose in about 30 minutes, but they are not always very accurate.
How is the flu treated?
The flu is primarily treated through antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs are prescriptions that may include pills or liquid medicines. If you believe you have the flu, contact your healthcare provider for the best treatment options.
How can I prevent the flu?
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a seasonal flu vaccine. Avoid contact with a sick person, and do not go to work or school if you have the flu.
For immunization schedules, visit http://gethealthycarsoncity.org/immunizations/.