The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness which is caused by influenza A and B viruses that attack the body by spreading through the upper and lower respiratory tract. While a cold can sometimes feel like the flu, it is not near as debilitating. Flu-like symptoms include high fever, headache, fatigue and weakness in the body. These symptoms can also appear almost instantly from the time you are infected.
The flu virus is spread quite easily through the air. When someone sneezes who has the flu, he or she infects the air around them. If you were to be close to that person and inhaled droplets in the air that contained the virus, then you could become infected too. Other ways the flu is transmitted is through sharing drinks or utensils, or handling items that an infected person used. If the flu virus were to get on your skin, and then you touched or rubbed your eyes, mouth or nose, then you could become infected as well. This is why it is so important to ALWAYS wash your hands when going to the bathroom and before you eat.
What to do to Prepare for Flu Season
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine once a year. By getting this vaccine, you are taking the first step in protecting yourself from getting this awful illness. Flu vaccines are provided at pharmacies and doctor offices as well as at schools and places of employment.
Secondly, taking everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs is important to staying flu-free as well. This includes:
- Washing your hands with soap and water
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread easily this way!
- If you get sick, limit contact with others to prevent further infection in others
Lastly, if you get the flu, there are antiviral drugs that can treat it, but it will still take time to get over and get back to being healthy. Visit your doctor if you think you might have the flu.
More information on the flu here: http://www.flu.gov/
YouTube Video on the flu: http://youtu.be/zE6rYqaWjkU