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What Is The Flu?
Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is a serious, acute respiratory illness that is caused by a virus. People who get the flu may have common symptoms that can include a fever, chills, cough, runny eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue. Symptoms may vary from person to person. For example, the elderly may not have a fever. Children can also have earaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The cough and fatigue can persist for up to several weeks, making the return to full personal and work activities difficult.
People of any age can get the flu and illness usually lasts two to seven days; sometimes longer in the elderly and in people with chronic diseases. Most people who get the flu are ill for only a few days. However, some people can become very ill, possibly developing complications and requiring hospitalization.
The flu spreads through coughing, sneezing or talking. It is also spread through direct contact with surfaces contaminated by the influenza virus, such as toys, eating utensils, and unwashed hands.
What Are The Symptoms Of The Flu?
People who get the flu may have common symptoms that can include a fever, chills, cough, runny eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue. Symptoms may vary from person to person.
What Is The Difference Between A Cold And The Flu?
The common cold and flu symptoms are often very similar. Use the chart below to help you determine if what you have is a simple cold, or the flu.
*Colds do not generally result in serious health problems such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.
|Prevention||Frequent hand washing||Annual immunization and frequent hand washing|
|Fever||Rare||Usual; high fever (102 ° F/39 ° C - 104 ° F, 40 ° C), sudden onset, lasts 3 to 4 days.|
|Headache||Rare||Usual; can be severe|
|Muscle aches and pains||Sometimes, generally mild||Usual; often severe|
|Tiredness and weakness||Sometimes, generally mild||Usual; severe, may last up to 2 to 3 weeks|
|Extreme tiredness||Unusual||Usual; early onset, can be severe|
|Runny, stuffy nose||Common||Common|
|Chest discomfort, coughing||Sometimes, mild to moderate||Usual, can become severe.|
|Complications||Can lead to sinus congestion or infection, and ear aches.*||Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and become life-threatening. Can worsen a chronic condition.|