One of the greatest fears people face each winter is the flu. Not only does influenza (flu) rear its ugly head during the cold seasons, but each season there seems to be a new strain of the flu virus, so it is often difficult to find the right anti-virus solution. The main thing to keep in mind is that just like a virus on your computer, the best prevention is protection. This mini-guide will help you distinguish the symptoms between a cold and the flu, provide you with ways to possibly prevent the flu and what to do in case you have the flu.
What is the Flu?
Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that is brought on by the influenza virus. The risk of onset typically occurs during the end of October through late April to Early May. There are three categories of the flu:
- Type A, which is the most severe. It spreads easily and can affect large groups of people at the same time
- Type B is typically less severe and affects fewer people.
- Type C is not typically clinically classified, because the symptoms are very mild.
The A and B influenza virus affects thousands of people each year and those who catch the virus generally suffer serious illnesses, which may lead to death. The threat of suffering from severe symptoms and complications are especially risky for the elderly, young children and those who suffer with certain types of health problems.
Symptoms of The Flu
The primary symptom that separates the flu from a cold, is a fever, which is typically high. Other symptoms of the flu may include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Runny and/or stuffy nose
Preventing the Flu
The best way you can prevent the flu is with a vaccination, which helps your immune system fight off the flu virus. However, it is important to keep in mind that the influenza virus produces a new strain each year, so in order to prevent it through vaccines, you need to get one each year. Other ways to possibly prevent the flu include:
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Wash your hands regularly
- Use a hand sanitizer after being in public places
- Use disposable disinfecting cloths to wipe of cell phones, chairs, desks and grocery cart handles
- Avoid contact with someone who is infected with the flu
Overcoming the Flu
If you unfortunately catch the flu, there are a number of things you can do that will help ease the symptoms, including:
- Stay at home to recover-it is important for you to rest and staying home reduces the risk of you spreading the virus.
- Drink plenty of fluids-a fever is common with the flu and if you have a high fever, you may become dehydrated. So, increase your fluid intake of water, fruit juice and/or clear soda.
- Avoid dairy products-most dairy products will increase your congestion as well as possibly upset your stomach when you have the flu.
- Take your vitamins-taking a good multivitamin will help to boost your immune system, which creates new antibodies to help you fight of the virus and recover quicker.
- Soaking in a cool bath will help reduce your fever.
- Rest- this is one of the best things you can do when you have the flu. Sleeping will help your body recuperate quicker.
- Avoid wearing heavy clothing-if you have a fever, wearing fewer/lighter clothing will help to disperse the heat.
- Get some fresh air-open a window to let in some fresh air to help ease the congestion.
- Eat plenty of fruit, because fruit contains natural anti-bacteria’s which will help sooth the uneasy-ness you feel, reduce your down time and simply make you feel better.
Remember when you have the flu, the best way to prevent spreading it to others is by staying home. If your symptoms last longer than about 5 days, it is important to visit your doctor.