It can be difficult to tell the difference between the flu and the cold virus because some of the symptoms are the same but there are differences. A doctor can examine you and tell if you have the flu. If the person is seen by a doctor within 2 or 3 days of coming down with the symptoms a doctor can run tests to determine if what the person has is the flu or not. Persons who are at high risk for complications from the flu should see a doctor as soon as possible after developing possible flu symptoms so that they can be tested and treated. Persons who are at high risk are those who are 65 years of age or older, individuals with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, women who are 3 months or more into their pregnancy and children 6 months of age to 10 years of age.
Certain individuals can develop serious complications from the flu such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, sinus problems and ear infections. Death can also occur from complications from the flu. If a person has a chronic condition the flu can worsen the symptoms of the condition.
Not everyone who gets the flu will have the exact same symptoms or even the same severity of the flu. Some individuals will have mild symptoms of the flu and others will have severe symptoms such that hospitalization is required. A healthy adult may be able to infect others 1 day before they even have symptoms of the flu themselves and they can be contagious for up to 5 days after getting the first symptoms of the flu. It is possible to give someone else the flu even before you know that you have it yourself.
Your doctor can recommend ways to protect yourself against the flu and also how to treat the flu should you or a member of your family come down with the flu.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of the flu so you can recognize if you are someone you love has the flu. The flu usually starts suddenly and can include one or more of the following symptoms:
Fever, typically high
Stuffy or runny nose
Muscular aches and stiffness
Some individuals will also have nausea, vomiting or upset stomachs
The flu is an infectious disease that affects the entire body especially the respiratory system. There are three types of influenza virus (A,B, and C.)
Types A, and B are the most severe. Type C is a very mild flu and sometimes has no symptoms at all.
Flu viruses change constantly and there are different strains that circulate around the world every year. Our bodies build up natural defenses but cannot always keep up with all the changes. This is why some doctors recommend getting a flu shot every year. Each year scientists try to predict what strain of flu will be arriving so that the vaccine can be made to protect people against it.