Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Most people who get influenza will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu. A wide range of complications can be caused by influenza virus infection of the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, throat) and lower respiratory tract (lungs). While anyone can get sick with flu and become severely ill, some people are more likely to experience severe flu illness. Young children, adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization and sometimes resulting in death. For example, people with chronic lung disease are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia.
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Influenza, or the the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by an airborne virus. Influenza viruses are divided into three types: A, B and C. Type A and B viruses are the most serious and are responsible for the flu epidemics experienced nearly every winter. Type C viruses typically cause a very minor respiratory illness and may result in no symptoms at all. The annual flu vaccine targets types A and B. While type A and B viruses differ in origin, the symptoms are the same.
Unlike a cold, the flu usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms can be moderate to severe and typically include fever, chills, nonproductive cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headache and fatigue. Some who get the flu may also experience vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fever is common but does not always accompany the flu. Any fever and body aches usually last 3 to 5 days, but the cough and fatigue may last up to 2 weeks or longer. Complications can be serious and include pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for complications.
The flu is passed from person to person through the air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, airborne droplets can land in the mouth or nose -- or even be inhaled into the lungs -- of others nearby. A person might also become infected by touching a surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching his mouth or nose. Adults are thought to be contagious 1 day before showing symptoms and 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may be contagious for longer than 7 days. Symptoms usually appear within 1 to 4 days of the virus entering the body. Some people may have the flu virus and remain asymptomatic but still pass the virus to others.
Contact your doctor if you have flu symptoms. Treatment is aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms and may include medications to relieve aches and fever, bed rest and plenty of fluids. Your doctor may also prescribe antiviral medications. When started within the first 2 days, they can reduce the duration of symptoms.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months old and older get the annual flu vaccine. The vaccine is especially important for high-risk groups, including young children, pregnant women and the elderly. While the vaccine doesn’t protect against all flu viruses, it does protect against those that research indicates will be most prevalent, including type A viruses. In addition to getting the vaccine, avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick with the flu, stay home and minimize contact with others until you are fever free for at least 24 hours. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of tissues properly. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Learn about the symptoms of flu, what to look for and what to do if you become ill.
Some people get mildly ill, while others get very sick.
Flu symptoms usually include the sudden appearance of:
Who should be vaccinated against influenza?
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
The influenza vaccine is updated every year to provide protection from the flu viruses that are likely to be circulating and causing disease. Also, your body’s level of immunity from a vaccine received last flu season is expected to have declined. Getting vaccinated every year before influenza activity begins in your community can help protect you during the flu season. The best time to get vaccinated is as soon as the vaccine is available. However, it’s never too late to get vaccinated.
Flu vaccines protect against multiple strains of influenza. Even if the vaccine is not a “perfect” match to all the circulating flu strains, the vaccine can still offer some protection, and may help to prevent complications or severe illness if flu illness does occur.
Infants younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu vaccine, but they are at higher risk for complications, hospitalization and death from the flu. Therefore, it is especially important that family members and other people who care for young infants get vaccinated to help ensure that they don’t spread the infection to them.
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine, for instance, people who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine or any of its components in the past. For more information about who should and who should not get vaccinated, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm.
Who is at high risk for developing flu complications?
The flu is a serious disease, especially for certain age groups and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as:
- Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby
- People with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, blood disorders, weak immune systems and certain other long-term medical conditions
- People who are morbidly obese
The flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis and can make chronic health problems worse. To help prevent the spread of the flu, those who live with people in a high-risk group and healthcare workers who provide care to high-risk patients should also receive an annual influenza vaccine.
Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The viruses contained in flu vaccines are weakened or inactivated (killed), meaning they cannot cause the full-blown illness. The most common side effect of the injectable flu vaccine is soreness at the spot where the shot was given. Persons who receive the nasal spray may experience a runny nose or headache.
If you get flu-like symptoms soon after getting vaccinated, it can mean you may have been exposed to the flu before you received your vaccine, or during the two-week period it takes the body to gain protection after vaccination. It might also mean you are sick with another illness that causes symptoms similar to the flu.
For more information about the flu and the benefits of the flu vaccine, talk to your health care provider or contact your local health department.
Where can I get a flu vaccination?
- Contact your local health department
- Check with your health care provider
- Use the vaccine locator to find a vaccine clinic near you
The cold is believed to be the most common illness in the world. Learn about cold symptoms, causes, and expected duration.
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You know when it's coming — your throat gets sore, your nose starts running, and your body just isn't 100 percent. The common cold is thought to be the most "common" illness in the world. Each year in the United States, it's estimated that people get approximately one billion colds.
Swine influenza is actually a broad term used to refer to a number of types of influenza viruses that are contracted by pigs. Some types of swine flu can also be contracted by humans. Humans can get swine flu from pigs, but this is pretty rare. Humans can also pass swine flu on to other humans.
The current (2009) outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) is not actually a virus that people can get from pigs. It is very similar to a virus that pigs get, but it is not the same. The name is deceiving.
People spread this swine flu virus to other people the same way the regular flu is spread. It's a virus and when people with swine flu cough or sneeze, tiny droplets of the virus are sprayed into the air. If you breathe in these droplets, you can catch swine flu. Also, if a person with swine flu coughs or sneezes on something like a phone or doorknob and you touch that object and then touch your mouth or nose, you can catch the flu.
While most cases of swine influenza are fairly mild, it can be a very serious illness and people do die from it. People die from the regular flu, as well, but the swine flu is more likely to be deadly. It is wise to take steps to prevent getting sick.
A swine flu vaccine has recently been approved, and is expected to be available around mid-October of 2009. The swine flu vaccine will probably require two different shots, given a week or two apart. The vaccine will take a couple weeks to "kick in," so you would not actually be immune until some time in November. Contact your doctor in October if you are interested in getting a swine flu vaccine. The regular flu vaccine will not protect you against swine flu.
Treatment for swine influenza is pretty much the same as treatment for other types of flu. In most cases, the virus will clear up on its own even without any treatment. However, treatment may speed the recovery process, and there is treatment available to help with the symptoms as well.
Antiviral medications may be prescribed to speed to the recovery process. They work by preventing the virus from replicating itself. Antiviral medications are not usually necessary, but can be helpful. You will need to see your doctor and get a prescription if you want to try them.
There are a number of over-the-counter remedies that can help relieve flu symptoms. Try Tylenol for fever, an antihistamine for runny nose and sneezing, and a cough suppressant for cough. You can have problems if you take too many over-the-counter drugs at one time, though, so you might do best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which medications would be best to take.
Although over-the-counter flu remedies will provide some relief, we have found two products that may be significantly more effective:
- A highly recommended natural flu remedy is Sambucol. It is a homeopathic remedy that relieves flu symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, chills, sore throat, coughing, and sneezing. It also helps speed the recovery process.
See your doctor in mid-fall if you want to get a swine flu vaccine. If you do catch the flu, you do not normally need to see a doctor, as the symptoms will generally go away on their own without treatment. However, if your symptoms are particularly severe, if you have a high fever, if your symptoms last longer than a week, or if you have trouble breathing, you should see a doctor. While most cases of the flu, including swine flu, are fairly mild, the flu can be serious, even deadly, so contact your doctor if you have concerns.
Getting the flu means missing work, school, and special events like the big game, a wedding, spring break or a special birthday party. It puts life on hold. But even worse, for people at higher risk for complications it can be very serious, even life threatening. Stay healthy and help keep the people closest to you healthy too by getting a seasonal flu vaccine. Even if the vaccine isn’t a perfect match with the circulating flu viruses, it’s still the best way to prevent getting the flu. Be sure to wash your hands frequently. If you do get sick, remember to cough into your arm or elbow, and stay home so you don’t spread the illness to others.
What is influenza?
Influenza is commonly referred to as the “flu”. It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms of flu may include fever (though not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue (tiredness), chills, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 days after exposure. Although most people are ill for less than a week, some people have complications and may need to be hospitalized.
Who gets influenza?
Influenza can infect persons of all ages. The flu can be especially serious for babies, children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older, people with certain long-term medical conditions (e.g., lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes), or those with weak immune systems. However, even healthy people can get the flu and should protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine every year.
How is it spread?
The flu virus spreads easily in discharges from the nose and throat of an infected person. It is often spread by coughing, sneezing or talking. A person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching his or her own mouth, eyes or nose.
When and for how long is a person able to spread the disease?
Influenza can spread from one person to another beginning one day before symptoms start up to five to seven days after becoming sick. This means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. If you have the flu, make sure you stay at home and away from school, work, or other activities until you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of a medicine to reduce your fever).
In the United States, about 36,000 people (mostly over the age of 65) die each year from the flu.
The flu is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Sometimes people get the flu by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. This can happen at home, work, church or school -- anywhere that we share close space or touch the same things, like chairs and tables, doors, and shopping carts.
- Stay home.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Wait 24 hours after your fever has gone away before going out.
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, or with your upper sleeve or the inside of your elbow.
- Avoid smoking and drinking.
- Wash your hands often.
The flu should clear up on its own. Call a doctor if you:
- Have a fever above 102 degrees for more than 1-2 days.
- Have symptomes that last longer than 10 days.
- Have a fever and also develop a rash.
- Get worse instead of better.
- Get better and then get sick again.
Get immediate medical attention for trouble breathing, dizziness, confusion, chest pain, repeated vomiting or other severe symptoms. Call a doctor if a child under 2, adult over 65, pregnant woman, or person with a chronic medical condition (including diabetes, asthma or heart disease) gets the flu.
We all want to protect our families and our community as best we can. That starts with taking care of ourselves and staying healthy. Each year there are new flu viruses -- and a new vaccine to fight th
The flu vaccine contains flu viruses that are grown in a laboratory and then killed (also called "inactivated"). These are made into a vaccine, which can be injected or sprayed in the nose to help protect against the flu. The vaccine is not a treatment for people who already have the flu. Instead, it helps prevent people from getting the flu in the first place. The vaccine builds our body's ability to fight the flu.
Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu vaccine each year. It is especially important for people who are more likely to get sick, and those who can spread the virus to others. This includes children between 6 months and 5 years old (especially children younger than 2); adults over 65; pregnant women; people with chronic medical conditions including diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and HIV; people who live in nursing homes; and health care workers. Those who live with or care for children less than 6 months of age should also get the vaccine.
Certain people should talk with a doctor before getting a flu shot. This includes people who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous flu shot; people who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome; or anyone who has a fever.
Yes, it is okay to get the vaccine if you have a mild illness -- as long as you do not have a fever.
I got a flu vaccine a year* ago. Do I still need another one?
Yes. The flu vaccine changes every year, to protect against new flu viruses that are expected. Last year's vaccine may not protect against this year's viruses.
Your doctor can provide the flu vaccine. Low cost flu vaccines are also available at most pharmacies. The Long Beach Health Department will be providing flu shots by appointment beginning October 10th - please call (562) 570-4315 to set up an appointment.
Some of these environmentally content bacteria in your body are actually good for you, it is only less than 1 percent that are not. Take lactobacillus acidophilus for example, this bacterium helps you digest food, destroys disease causing organisms and provides nutrients to your body.
However, when the “not good” bacteria invades, these misery creators rapidly reproduce, many producing powerful chemicals (toxins) that damage tissue cells at the site of their invasion, and that’s what makes you ill.
Some examples of the sickness these bacterial invaders cause are:
A virus is a capsule containing genetic material, even smaller than bacteria. The main mission of a virus is to reproduce. However, viruses need a suitable host to multiply, unlike bacteria.
So what a virus does in its invasion, is it takes over some of your cells and instructs these overtaken cells to make what it needs for reproduction. These host cells are then destroyed in the process.
Examples of these viral illnesses are:
Molds, yeasts and mushrooms are all types of fungi. They can live in your body, usually without harm and some offer benefits.
For example, penicillin is derived from fungi, and this “life saving” antibiotic kills harmful bacteria. Fungi are also required to make certain foods, such as bread, cheese and yogurt.
Other fungi aren’t as beneficial and can cause illness. Examples are:
You can prevent infection through regular hand washing, vaccinations and, in some situations, appropriate medications. Also, healthy diet, exercise and rest helps keep your immune system charged up and ready for battle.
Seek medical attention when infection is suspected and you experience:
- a bite
- 100.4 F or higher
- persistent vomiting
- breathing difficulties
- over a week long cough
- rapid heartbeat episodes
- severe and unusual headache
- a rash accompanied by a fever
- blurred or other vision difficulties
Prevent the preventable by keeping your body’s front line immune system in shape to defend bacteria, virus or fungus invasions.