By the bioMérieux Connection Editors
Since the current flu season began, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there have been at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6,600 deaths from the flu. On average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu each season.
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Want to know more about the flu? Read on to get the facts and build your knowledge.
Symptoms of the Flu
The respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses can range from mild to severe. The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days but can range anywhere from 1 to 4 days.
- Fever or feeling feverish
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Treatment for the Flu
As soon as you think you have the flu, visit a healthcare provider. If you are diagnosed with the flu, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine. Keep in mind that the flu cannot be treated by antibiotics, because it is caused by viruses, not bacteria. People with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
Susceptibility to the Flu
Some people are more likely to get the flu or are more likely to become seriously ill due to flu related complications. Children have a higher chance of getting the flu than any other age group. Children, adults over age 65, and people who have chronic health problems, such as asthma, are most susceptible to flu-related complications. Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, or worsening of chronic medical conditions. Serious infections can lead to sepsis or even death.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the annual flu vaccine. The CDC recommends everyone six months or older get vaccinated. The flu vaccine protects you from several strains of the flu and if you do happen to get sick, the illness if often milder. In addition, getting vaccinated protects everyone around you by lowering your chances of spreading the flu. The flu vaccine works by priming your immune system—essentially, “teaching” your body how to better fight off the infection if you are exposed to it later.
The CDC also recommends staying away from people who are sick, keeping away from others when you are sick, and covering your coughs and sneezes to prevent the spread of the virus.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.