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Why We Get Sick With the Flu

Updated on February 8, 2009

A throbbing headache...muscle aches as if you ran a marathon...a fever as high as a horse's... it does not take rocket science to understand how a fever makes you feel. However, if we take a closer look in depth as to why we get sick with the flu, we may surprisingly remain in awe from the marvels of our body...

According, to CDC each year, approximately 200,000 people come down with the flu.Typically the flu affects the most between the months of November and March. To better understand, how we fight off the flu, and all the defensive mechanisms our body overtakes to keep us healthy, we must take a look at how the flu is transmitted in first place.

Typically, the flu is transmitted by inhaling airborne particles containing the flu virus. Such particles are usually inhaled after a sick person coughs or sneezes. Staying away from such sick people may seem easier than said. In reality, such airborne particles may be expelled for up to 3 feet away! It is no wonder, therefore, why sharing small office spaces or the interior of an airplane cabin may make us so susceptible to getting the flu!

However, if you think that avoidance should work, think twice. The flu can also be transmitted by simply touching contaminated surfaces. Such surfaces consist mainly of door knobs, hand rails, keyboards, light switches, desks, tables, faucets and any other objects that are commonly handled by a multitude of  people. All it takes is for you to touch such surfaces and then casually bring your hands to your face, mouth or nose and you may catch the flu easily.

To make matters even worse, people sick with the flu are also able to shed the virus even prior to becoming sick with symptoms suggesting the flu. This makes it very hard to avoid the flu, if not impossible.

So let's say that one person accidentally inhales infected airborne particles upon walking through a hallway where a person sneezed seconds ago. The virus will be inhaled and will quickly make itself at home and try to settle itself comfortably.

However, residing in a human's body may not be an easy task. Quickly, an army of white blood cells in shining armors will prepare for battle. Depending on the individual's age and immune system, the battle may be easy to win or it may be fierce, with the possibility of developing even serious complications.

As the inside turmoil begins, the affected human will shortly thereafter, begin to feel weak and tired. Later in the day, the first symptoms suggesting the flu will appear. These particular symptoms are not casual nor coincidental, rather, they are all carefully and strategically planned just as the most succesful wars in history. As gruesome, yet fascinating as it can be, let's take a look at some common signs and symptoms of the flu and learn to interpret them accordingly:

-One of the very first symptoms to suggest the flu is a raised temperature. This is a strategic effort from our immune system in trying to overcome the enemy. Truth is, by raising the internal temperature of our bodies, what a fever is doing is attempting to make it inhospitable to viruses and bacteria.

-Shivering may be observed in cases where the fever gets high. Such sensation of cold is derived by the fact that the body gives priority to the core temperature and works hard in keeping essential vital organs warm. Shivering arises when bloods vessels near the skin constrict, while blood vessels near vital organs swell.

-Attentive individuals may also notice that their heart rate increases even considerable when having a fever. This is due to an increase in metabolism, the heart rate will be faster and even breathing will increase. This is a normal effort to bring the temperature down when a fever is high, just as a dog pants in hot weather.

-If you are affected by the flu, very likely you have started to excrete from your nose a very thick and sticky discharge, often greenish in color. The color and consistency is not at all casual. Its sticky texture is built to effectively trap the virus and get it expelled. For this very reason, you do not want to recycle used Kleenex: such practice may heighten the risk of reinfecting yourself and other around you.

-Those terrible muscle aches causing severe soreness are another great attempt of the immune system in killing the virus once and for all. The muscles will be working hard and releasing protein, another great way to win the battle. Eating foods rich in protein may be somewhat helpful in reducing the soreness.

-The throbbing head ache results from swollen blood vessels in the head. As mentioned earlier, the body attempts to keep vital body structures warm by causing dilation of the blood vessels, this though may give rise to painful headaches.

-If your flu involves also the gastro-intestinal tract, you may be comforted in learning that this is a great way to fight off the infection. Vomiting causes the virus to be forcefully expelled fro the stomach, while the diarrhea will effectively remove the virus from the intestinal tract in frequent liquid squirts.

As seen, our bodies are truly amazing pieces of engineering. Just as computers, our body's immune systems are equipped with effective anti-virus programs that will ensure our safety and will take care of all impending threats. However, unlike computers, our bodies have not been previously programmed, rather they remain a marvelous testimony of the wonders of life...


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