Flu (Influenza)

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Flu season is here again. About 5-20% of US population gets flu each year. This benign appearing viral illness still cause about 36000(thirty six thousand) deaths each year in US alone.

Flu is caused by Influenza virus. It is transmitted through respiratory droplets. When a person with influenza sneezes or coughs, large number of tiny droplets of respiratory secretion are showered in the air. These droplets could be inhaled by another person, these droplets may also fall on the surrounding objects. When a healthy person touches the object the virus can reach the nose via hand.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Fever, chills, generalized bodyache, sore throat, stuffy,runny nose, dry cough. Person feels tired. Symptoms start suddenly. These symptoms may last from 4-5 days to 1-2 weeks. Most heathy individuals recover completely. Some may develop pneumonia or sinusitis. People who have diabetes, kidney disease or lung disease and elderly are at higher risk of developing complications.
Remember common cold is also a respiratory viral illness and can cause flu like symptoms but symptoms are slower to start and are much milder than flu.

What to do when I have flu?

Take rest, stay away from public place so that you don’t infect others, take enough liquids to keep yourself hydrated.
Take Tylenol for fever and pain. There are antiviral medications available which may help if taken early, as soon as symptoms appear. These antivirals are prescriped by physicians.

Can I prevent myself from getting flu?

You can minimize the chances of getting flu by avoiding crowds, try to keep a distance from a known person with influenza and maintainting general hygein including washing hands.

Yearly flu vaccine also help reduce the risk of getting flu. It is available from end of September through January. You can not take the vaccine if you have allergy to eggs or had any allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past. There are antiviral medications you can take to prevent flu if you can’t take the vaccine and in certain situations even after the vaccination.

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