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Key Information About Flu

Updated on August 29, 2020
srirad0675 profile image

Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

What Is Flu?

Also known as influenza, flu is a common viral infection of the lungs and airways. Even though it is similar to a bad cold, it can be more serious.


What Are the Symptoms of Flu?

Fever over 100.4 F, muscle pain, headache, sweats, dry cough, chills, persistent cough, tiredness, sore throat, weakness and nasal congestion are some common symptoms of flu.

What Are the Causes of Flu?

Flu is contagious. Viruses that cause this infection spread from person to person mainly by droplets of respiratory fluids sent through the air when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes.

These viruses can stay alive on inanimate objects for two to eight hours. If an infected person would have touched a surface, like a door knob or a cellphone, and you touch the same surface, you could get the virus. Once you have the virus on your hand, it can enter your body by touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.

Flu is caused by the influenza virus. There are three main types of this virus simply known as A, B and C:

Influenza virus type A – this is the most common type and causes annual outbreaks of flu.

Influenza virus type B – this is less common, causing outbreaks every three to five years.

Influenza virus type C – this type of virus presents the mildest symptoms, often similar to those of a cold.

— Dr. Jen Tan, Immune System Expert

Hs and Ns

Type A viruses are identified by numbered Hs and Ns, like H1N1 and H3N2. The Hs and Ns refer to hemagglutinin (Ha or H) and neuraminidase (Na or N), respectively, which are both viral molecules that hang on the outside of viral particles.

Flu Complications

Bacterial pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection, dehydration, bronchitis, and worsening of chronic conditions (like congestive heart failure, cancer asthma, diabetes, bronchitis, and kidney, liver or lung disease) are some known complications of flu.

People at High Risk for Complications From Flu

According to the CDC, individuals aged 65 and above are at a higher risk for serious complications from the flu. This is because the immune system weakens with age.


Generally health care professionals perform a quick test (for example, nasopharyngeal swab sample) to see if the patient has an influenza A or B viral infection.


Treatment for Flu

Flu is primarily treated with rest and fluid intake to enable the body to fight the infection on its own. Doctors usually prescribe paracetamol, which is known to be effective against flu symptoms.

Decongestants are used in cases of nasal or sinus congestion. Use of antiviral drugs depends on the severity of symptoms. Patients with mild illness do not need antiviral drugs.

“Most people will recover in a couple of weeks, and if they have mild illness do not need to go to the emergency room,” said Mollie Vance, Lincoln County Health and Human Services Communicable Disease.

Nurse Mollis Vance said. “If the signs of flu are mild, the best thing to do is to stay home, rest and avoid others. If you are at high risk or concerned about your illness, call your healthcare provider.”


How to Prevent Flu?

One effective way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated. Each year there are about 30 or more different strains of influenza.

"Many people would be used to getting a vaccine once in their life, and going on to have protection that lasts years or perhaps a whole lifetime," Lauren Bloomfield from Edith Cowan University's School of Medical and Health Sciences said.

"But influenza changes so quickly and so often that we need a new vaccine for it every year."

Flu vaccine specifically protects people against four of the worst strains — two for influenza A and two for the influenza B.

Although vaccination remains the best way to protect against influenza, the efficacy of vaccines varies from one flu season to the next.

Stay away from people who are infected. Keep your hands clean. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; preparing food; or eating with unwashed hands.

Influenza viruses are a tricky moving target for vaccine makers.

Do you think alternative remedies for flu are safe?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


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    Post Comment
    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      19 months ago

      That's a challenge.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      In the UK, each year government scientists try to predict which strain of flu will strike and vaccinate vulnerable people accordingly. Unfortunately they don't always select the right strain to innoculate against.

    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      19 months ago


    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      19 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Informative and useful. Thanks.


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