What Everyone Should Know About The Flu
(Source: New York State Department of Health)
What are the symptoms of the flu virus?
The flu usually starts suddenly and may include these symptoms: fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, may occur in children but are rare in adults.
Are some people at higher risk for complications than others from getting the flu?
Yes. People at high risk for serious flu complications include older people, young children, and people of any age with certain health conditions.
What are the complications associated with the flu virus?
Some of the complications caused by flu include pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems and ear infections.
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests can be carried out, when needed, to tell if a person has the flu; these tests usually must be done within the first few days of illness.
What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds tend to develop gradually, while the flu tends to start very suddenly. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
What should I do if I'm experiencing flu like symptoms?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) it is important for anyone with flu like symptoms to do the following:
- Drink fluids
- Take fever reducers (i.e., Tylenol, Motrin)
- Contact your primary care provider as soon as possible if you are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions that could put you at risk for complications from influenza or if your symptoms worsen.