Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and, occasionally, lungs. Infection usually lasts for about a week, and is characterized by sudden onset of high fever, aching muscles, headache and severe malaise, non-productive cough, sore throat and rhinitis.
The virus is transmitted easily from person to person via droplets and small particles produced when infected people cough or sneeze. Influenza tends to spread rapidly in seasonal epidemics. Most infected people recover within one to two weeks without requiring medical treatment.
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
- Aching muscles
- Chills and sweats
- Dry, persistent cough
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
Are some of the symptoms associated with the flu. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
Children and adults at high risk may develop complications such as:
- Asthma flare-ups
- Heart problems
- Ear infections
Pneumonia is the most serious complication. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly.
Controlling The Spread of Infection
The influenza vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, so it’s also important to take measures to reduce the spread of infection:
Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t readily available.
Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
Avoid crowds. The flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And if you’re sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that you lessen your chance of infecting others.
If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away.
Remember, your health…is your responsibility!