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Facts About Flu

As traditional flu season approaches, it’s a good idea to get the facts on this vexing condition.

What is flu?

Influenza, commonly shorted to “flu,” is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract.

What’s the difference between a cold and flu?

Although the symptoms can be similar, flu is much worse than a cold. You feel flu symptoms soon and with greater intensity than colds. The chart below can help you compare symptoms.

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare Characteristic, high (100-102 degrees F); lasts three to four days
Headache Rare Prominent
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Quite mild Can last up to two to three weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe

When should I call the doctor?

The sooner you call your doctor with flu symptoms, the better. You may benefit from medications to help shorten the duration of your illness. Also, if you’ve had the flu for a few days and symptoms may indicate a secondary or bacterial infection. Call your doctor if:

  • Your fever returns, or lasts long than three days.
  • You have difficulty breathing.
  • You can’t stop vomiting and can’t keep liquids down.
  • You wheeze when you breathe.
  • Your flu symptoms worsen each day.

If you have chronic medical condition such as heart disease, asthma, COPD, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, call your doctor when the first fly symptoms appear as flu might increase the risk of serious problems. Also, seek emergency medical help if you are or loved one is extremely short of breath or has a severe headache or stiff neck.

What drugs will my doctor prescribe?

Antiviral drugs can decrease the duration of the fly by one or two days. They are the most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of illness, so you need to call your doctor as soon as you have flu symptoms. They are usually given for about five to seven days.

Should I take antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medications that flight infections caused by bacteria. Chances are that antibiotics will not help your flu symptoms because flu, colds, and most sore throats and bronchitis are cause by viruses. In addition, taking antibiotics when they are not needed increase your risk of getting an antibiotic resistant infection later.

Categories: Health Tip

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