The flu is a viral infection that affects your airways – your nose, throat, and lungs. The flu is commonly known as the flu, but it is not the same as the “stomach flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
For most people, the flu goes away on its own. But sometimes the flu and its complications can be fatal. People at higher risk for flu complications include:
Infants under 5 years, especially children under 6 months
Adults over 65 years
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after giving birth
People with weakened immune systems
At first, the flu can look like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly while the flu comes on suddenly. And while a cold can be a problem, you usually feel a lot worse with the flu.
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
Chills and sweats
Dry and persistent cough
shortness of breath
Influenza viruses travel through the air in the form of droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. You can inhale the droplets directly or pick up germs from an object – like a phone or computer keyboard – and then transfer them to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
People with the virus are likely to be contagious from about one day before symptoms appear to about five days after they appear. Children and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for a little longer.
Influenza viruses are constantly changing, and new strains appear regularly. If you’ve ever had the flu, your body has already made antibodies to this specific strain of the virus. While future influenza viruses will be similar to those you’ve previously encountered, whether from the disease or vaccination, these antibodies can prevent infection or make it less severe.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing the flu or its complications include:
Age. Seasonal flu is usually targeted at children aged 6 months to 5 years and adults aged 65 and over.
Living or working conditions. People who live or work in facilities with many other residents, such as nursing homes or military barracks, are more likely to develop the flu. People who stay in the hospital are also at higher risk.
Weakened immune system. Treatments for cancer, anti-rejection drugs, long-term steroid use, organ transplants, blood cancer, or HIV / AIDS can weaken your immune system. It can help you catch the flu, and it can also increase your risk of developing complications.
Chronic illness. Chronic conditions such as lung conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, nervous system disorders, metabolic disorders, abnormal airways, and kidney, liver, or blood disorders can increase your risk. Influenza complications.
When you are young and healthy, the flu is usually not severe. While you may feel miserable while you have it, the flu will usually go away in a week or two with no lasting effects. However, high-risk children and adults can develop complications that can include: