The flu, or Influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, depending on the patient’s age and health status prior to the immediate illness.
People who are sick with the flu often feel body aches, fevers, chills, headaches, cough, sore throat, and generalized weakness. Some people even have vomiting and diarrhea.
The flu is spread mainly by droplets made when people that are sick with the flu sneeze, cough, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people. Touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, eyes, or nose can also spread the flu.
Patients are contagious one day before their symptoms start and are still contagious up to seven days after becoming sick. A person might be contagious before he or she even knows they are sick.
Complications of the flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with asthma, COPD, diabetes, liver disease, HIV, cancer, and chronic steroid use, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu vaccine each year. Practicing good health habits can also help stop the spread of the flu. Try to avoid close contact with someone who is sick with the flu. Cover your mouth when you cough. Don’t cough into your hand, only into your sleeve or elbow. Stay home if you are sick with the flu. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home, especially if someone is sick with the flu.
There is no cure for the flu. If you are sick with the flu, stay home so you don’t infect others. Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. There are antiviral medications available, but these medications only help to decrease the duration and severity of symptoms. Many of them have unpleasant side effects that might develop. You need to seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, severe headaches, chest pain, abdominal pain, dizziness, or confusion.
For more information , please visit www.cdc.gov/flu