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Influenza or "the flu" is an illness that affects our entire body, including the lungs. As many as 1 in 5 Americans get the flu each year. A virus that spreads from person to person causes flu. The illness can be mild, like a bad cold, or it can be very serious. In fact, people can die from the flu. You get the flu from other people. The flu virus spreads through coughing or sneezing. It is also spread when a person touches something that a sick person has touched, then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
Help Prevent the Flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay home if you are sick until you have been symptom-free without taking fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of rest.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills.
- A cough.
- A sore throat.
- Runny or stuffy nose.
- Muscle or body aches.
- 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.
Flu season is here, and it’s hitting hard. A COLD is a respiratory virus that is quite mild when compared to the flu. You’re less likely to have a fever with a cold, and symptoms occur gradually over a day or two. With the FLU, you’ll experience a sudden onset of symptoms, which commonly includes a fever.
With a COLD, a stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing are common. With the FLU, a cough is common and can be quite severe, but a runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing are not.
Head and body aches can happen but are milder and less frequent with a COLD. With the FLU, they are very common and are generally some of the first symptoms you’ll experience. They’re also more severe. While you may feel tired or weak with a COLD, you will be very fatigued and weak for days and sometimes weeks with FLU.
To reduce your chances of catching these viruses, it's important to practice good hand hygiene, and be sure to get a flu shot.
If you are around anyone who is ill, make sure to wash your hands after immediate contact with them. Take care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep and nourishment to allow your immune system to run at its prime. If you are having any symptoms, stay home until you’re fever free for 24 hours. And let others know you are ill so they can take precautions to limit their exposure.
If you suspect you or your loved one has influenza, it’s best to be seen sooner rather than later, as Tamiflu (an antiviral medication) is only effective if it’s started within a designated timeframe from the onset of symptoms.
You can treat your symptoms with Tylenol, ibuprofen, cough syrup, fluids and rest. Because influenza is a virus, no antibiotic will help with the symptoms or shorten the life of the virus.