Influenza is a respiratory virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It is often called the “flu” and spreads through the air and on hard surfaces, especially through sneezing and coughing. Influenza is divided into type A influenza and type B influenza, and there is typically a flu season in the winter months when influenza spreads the most. Influenza can oftentimes be prevented by receiving an annual flu vaccine.
Influenza is caused by the Influenza virus and spreads through tiny droplets transmitted through coughing, sneezing, or talking. Children are more likely to develop influenza than older individuals. People who are obese, native American, pregnant, have weakened immune systems, age 65 or older, newborn or under age 5, live in nursing homes, or have chronic illnesses such as asthma, COPD, and/or heart disease are more likely to develop complications from the influenza virus.
Symptoms of Influenza include:
Sweats or chills
Shortness of breath
Nausea and vomiting (more common in children)
Diarrhea (more common in children)
Influenza is most often treated with antiviral medication prescribed by a healthcare professional. When diagnosed with Influenza, it is also important to treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol. Additionally, it is crucial to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of clear fluids to avoid dehydration. The most common complication associated with Influenza is Pneumonia. If you suspect you have Influenza, stay at home to avoid spreading the virus unless you are traveling to see a healthcare professional. In that case, wear a mask to prevent infection. When diagnosed with Influenza, it is best to wait to leave your home until you are 24 hours fever free.
The best way to prevent Influenza is by receiving an annual flu shot. To avoid any kind of illness, including Influenza, it is always a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly and often, avoid touching your face, cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow, clean/disinfect surfaces often, keep distance between yourself and sick people, and avoid crowds.
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John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Influenza. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/influenza.
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