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Influenza: What You Need To Know

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system: nose, throat and occasionally the lungs. Commonly called the flu, it tends to spread rapidly in seasonal epidemics.

Most infected people recover within one to two weeks without requiring medical treatment. However, in the very young, the elderly, and those with other serious medical conditions, this infection can lead to severe complications of the underlying condition, including pneumonia and death.

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion because of runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, in some cases (more common in children than adults)

Causes

Inhaling flu viruses from the air in droplet form can occur when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks.

Coming into contact with germs present on objects like door handles, telephone receivers, or computer equipment and then these transferring to your eyes, nose or mouth can also cause the flu.

Who is at a high risk of catching Influenza?

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
  • pregnant women
  • Babies or young children
  • People taking steroids
  • Individuals undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Those with longstanding diseases that reduce immune system function

Prevention and Treatment

According to health experts and government agencies around the world, the single best way to protect oneself from catching flu is to get vaccinated every year. To treat influenza, a healthcare specialist must be consulted for medication.

Sources

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/15107.php#how_serious_flu

http://www.who.int/topics/influenza/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm