The flu is a viral infection that attacks the throat, nose, and lungs. It is highly contagious with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Anyone can be affected by the flu. However, some people have a higher risk of infection, these people include:
- Children under the age of 5
- People aged 65 or above
- People with kidney disease, heart disease, asthma, HIV or diabetes
- Pregnant women and new moms
- People who live in a care facility or nursing home
- Children or teenagers who take medications that contain salicylate or aspirin
Read more to learn the flu symptoms & prevention tips.
What Causes the Flu?
The influenza virus causes the flu. The flu is an airborne respiratory illness that normally spreads from person to person and infected droplets.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
Early symptoms of the flu include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Gastrointestinal changes
The symptoms can worsen when the virus progresses and include:
- Muscle aches
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
Children may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Visit your doctor as soon as you suspect that you have the flu. They will prescribe medications to reduce the symptoms and severity of the flu.
How to Know You Are Infected with Flu Virus
The early signs and symptoms of the flu including sudden fever, loss of appetite, and body aches will help you know you have the flu. Especially, having a fever and cough at the same time can be a good indication that you are infected with the flu virus.
How Does the Flu Spread?
To protect yourself from the infection, it is important to understand how the flu virus spreads. The infection is spread by the sneezes and coughs of an infected person and touching an infected person or surface that has the flu virus.
The source of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that an infected person can spread the infection to another person before symptoms begin and up to 5 to 7 days after they become sick. If you are infected with the flu virus, you will develop symptoms within 1 to 4 days. However, you can transmit the infection to someone before you realize that you are sick or develop symptoms.
You should avoid sharing utensils and other objects with anyone who is sick.
How Many Types of Flu Viruses Are There?
The types of flu viruses include type A, type B, and type C.
It is caused by different strains. However, humans and animals can contract type A flu, as the infection can be spread from animals to humans. It can cause annual flu epidemics.
This flu virus can be spread from humans to humans. It can cause seasonal outbreaks during winter. It is less severe than type A, but its symptoms can range from mild to severe.
It only affects humans and causes fewer complications and mild symptoms.
How Can the Flu Be Prevented?
Follow these tips to protect yourself from the virus:
- Wash your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched areas in your home or workplace
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow
- Wear a face mask if you are taking care of someone who has the flu
- Consider getting an annual flu vaccination