Flu is a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses. The viruses pass
through the air and enter your body through your nose or mouth. Between 5% and 20% of people in the U.S. get the flu each year. The flu can be serious or even deadly for elderly people, newborn babies and people with certain chronic illnesses.
Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and are worse than those of the common cold.
They may include :
- Body or muscle aches
- Sore throat
Is it a cold or the flu? Colds rarely cause a fever or headaches. Flu almost never causes an upset stomach. And "stomach flu" isn't really flu at all, but gastroenteritis
The main way to keep from getting the flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine. If you get the flu, your health care provider may prescribe medicine to help your body fight the infection and lessen symptoms.
How Does the Flu Spread?
This virus gets around in little drops that spray out of an infected person's mouth and nose when he or she sneezes, coughs, or even laughs. You can catch the flu from someone who has it if you breathe in some of those tiny flu-infected drops. You can also catch the flu if those drops get on your hands and you touch your mouth or nose. No wonder people are always saying to cover your mouth when you sneeze!
What If You Get the Flu?
But even if you get a flu shot, steer clear of sneezers, and you wash your hands regularly, you still might get the flu.
At the doctor's office, the doctor will ask you how you've been feeling and examine you. He or she might use a long cotton swab to get a sample of the gunk in your nose or throat. Testing this sample in a lab can determine, for sure, that you have the flu. But usually this isn't necessary. Based on your symptoms, your doctor can usually tell if you have the flu, especially during times when a lot of flu is going around your town.
Once your doctor says you have the flu, you can start taking these steps to feel better:
- Rest in bed or on the couch.
- Drink lots of liquids, like water, chicken broth, and other fluids.
- Take the medicine your mom or dad gives you to ease your fever, aches, and pains.
- Tell your mom or dad if you have trouble breathing, your muscles really hurt, or if you feel confused. These are signs you may need to see the doctor again.
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