Nowadays, people are accustomed to being sick. Getting through work with a headache or a case of the sniffles has become workplace policy and just one of the many annoyances of daily life. However, when one day of coming down with a cold reaches a week of being immobilized with the flu, a bit of panic can set in.
Worry has reached a fever pitch throughout the nation as more and more cases of the flu are popping up in local hospitals. The virus has been reported in 41 states so far this year -- 29 of which are reporting high or “severe” levels of infection.
There have been 15,000 reported cases and 18 deaths associated with flu-like symptoms since the beginning of flu season. Keep yourself informed and your family safe with these helpful facts:
The main symptoms of the flu are high fever, joint pain, feeling weak, headache, sore throat and runny nose.
There's a difference between a cold and a flu. There are more than 100 viruses which can cause a cold. The flu can only be caused by influenza virus types A, B and C. A cold will probably bring you down for a little bit, while the flu will make you feel as if you're being kicked while you are down.
The flu attacks the immune system. If the immune system is already compromised, the body will be less able to fight back against further infection.
Flu is spread when you make direct contact with the virus. For example, inhaling droplets in the air that contain the flu virus, sharing drinks or utensils that have been contaminated or simply handling contaminated items can infect you. You cannot catch the flu simply by walking around outside without a hat or warm jacket. The reason this myth is so popular is because lack of common sense will weaken your immune system, inhibiting your body's ability to fight off the flu.
Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms arise and up to five to seven days after getting sick. Some, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, may be infectious for a longer time period.
The flu is so prevalent in the winter due to its ability to thrive in low humidity. In winter, the relative humidity of indoor air is very low in comparison to the outside air. People are usually inside, in closer proximity with each other in the cold winter months, thus increasing the chance of the flu being spread. The flu is spread person to person, most commonly in areas where people are in constant close proximity to each other.
Antibiotics will not be effective against the flu as they only treat bacterial infections. The flu is a virus, immune to antibiotics.
The best method for preventing the flu is simply using good health habits. Actions as simple as washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home when you're sick can stop the flu from spreading.
Flu shots aren't a guaranteed way to prevent the flu. Although doctors recommend everyone above the age of six months old receive a flu shot, the shot prevents the flu 70 percent of the time. Sometimes a specific strain cannot be taken into account for, leaving a person still vulnerable. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common. This year, those are Influenza A, B and the H1N1 strain.
The flu typically lasts anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks after it's been contracted.
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