Sunday, April 14, 2024

What is the flu?

The flu, short for influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can range from mild to severe and can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia and death, particularly in high-risk groups such as young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Influenza viruses are divided into three main types: influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. Influenza A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks, while influenza C viruses typically cause milder respiratory illness.

The flu is characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Influenza viruses are primarily spread through respiratory droplets when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. It can also spread by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the face, particularly the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Prevention measures for the flu include annual vaccination, practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and staying home when sick to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Treatment for the flu typically involves rest, fluids, over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms, and antiviral drugs prescribed by a healthcare provider, especially for individuals at high risk of complications. Early antiviral treatment can reduce the severity and duration of illness and prevent serious complications.

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