What is Flu?
Caused by the influenza virus, the flu is a respiratory ailment that is very contagious.
Symptoms range from mild to severe and may lead to death especially in the very young and the elderly.
Statistically each year 5-20% of the population of the United States is infected with the flu. Flu complications lead to over 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths.
Symptoms from the flu virus include: dry cough, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, fatigue, high fever, headache and runny nose. These symptoms become fatal in people with chronic medical illnesses like diabetes and congestive heart failure.
To Alleviate Symptoms:
Since the flu is the influenza virus, antibiotics cannot cure the illness. Prevention is the best cure by getting vaccinated. Rest, fluids, medication for flu symptoms like fever and avoiding tobacco, alcohol and narcotics will bring some comfort.
How the flu works
When someone coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets spread the flu virus. When someone comes in contact with a droplet and follows by touching their nose, mouth or eye, the virus enters the body.
An adult is infectious from one day before any symptoms are noticeable and for seven days after coming down with the flu.
Washing your hands with soap and warm water will kill any germs that you come in contact with. Doorknobs, computer keyboards and bathroom doors are common places where the flu virus is left behind by infected individuals. Hand washing especially after coming in contact with these places is ideal.
Try to keep yourself from rubbing your eyes, placing your hands near your mouth or nose. When you come in contact with the virus from places like doorknobs and then follow by touching your eyes, nose or mouth, you will introduce the virus into your body.
When you sneeze, cover you nose and mouth with a tissue and encourage others to do the same. Carry pocket sized tissue packs especially when you are sick.
Avoid sick people by keeping your distance from them. If you are sick, stay home to prevent others from catching the virus from you.
The flu vaccine can also help in preventing the flu. The best time to take the vaccine is in the fall, usually in October or November before the beginning of the flu high season. Flu season lasts from October to May.
The flu vaccine comes in two types: injectable and nasal spray. The flu injection contains the killed version of the virus which is introduced into the body by a needle. This vaccination is recommended for children that are six months or older, healthy adults and those with chronic illnesses.
The nasal version of the spray vaccine is made with a weakened, live version of the virus. This is recommended for healthy people between 5 and 49 years of age. It is not approved for use in pregnant women.
It takes two weeks for the body to develop antibodies against the influenza virus.
The CDC recommends the following people get vaccinated: children between 6 months to 23 months, women who will be pregnant during the flu season (October to May), adults over 65 years of age, anyone with chronic medical conditions between the ages of 2 and 64 years of age.