Influenza, or better known as just the “flu,” is a highly contagious respiratory virus that can cause a person to become very sick. A healthy person with a healthy immune system may just be sick for a few days, but the elderly, young children or people with health problems, may be sick longer and have more complications. Many people think that the flu’s most common symptoms are diarrhea or vomiting, but this is not true. The flu virus actually tends to cause more problems in a person’s respiratory system (lungs). The most common symptoms of the flu virus are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue and headaches. If it is between the months of November and March and you experience these symptoms you should go see your doctor, they will more than likely test you for influenza. If you test positive for influenza, your doctor may prescribe some anti-virals, which will help your body fight off the virus and decrease your symptoms. Another important thing to do is drink lots of fluids, especially if you are not eating. This will help your body stay strong to fight off the virus.
Many people are unaware of how the influenza virus spreads and what you can do to prevent it from spreading. The virus can be spread by “droplets” that come from a sneeze, cough or when a person is talking. It can also be spread if the droplets are on a surface and someone touches that surface. The best way to prevent the transmission of any virus, not just the flu, is to wash your hands frequently. Also, if you are sick it is best to stay home and not infect others. For family that is living with the sick person it is best not to share anything with them for that time and make sure to clean surfaces in the home to prevent transmission.
There are some things that you can do to prevent getting the influenza virus. The best thing to do is get a flu shot! This will greatly decrease your chance of getting the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year in the fall. There are many opportunities and places to go get a flu shot. Doctor’s offices, certain pharmacies, and the Health Department are all great places to get vaccinated for the influenza virus. The health Department holds many clinics throughout the area to ensure that everyone gets a flu shot. Flu season starts in October, time to get vaccinated!