Influenza — or the flu, as it’s better known — is another upper respiratory illness. Unlike the cold, which can hit at any time of year, the flu is generally seasonal. Flu season usually runs from fall to spring, peaking during the winter months.
During flu season, you can catch the flu in the same way you’d pick up a cold: by coming into contact with droplets spread by an infected person. You’re contagious starting 1 day before you get sick and up to 5 to 7 days after you show symptoms.
The seasonal flu is caused by the influenza A, B, and C viruses, with influenza A and B being the most common types. Active strains of influenza virus vary from year to year. That’s why a new flu vaccine is developed each year.
Unlike the common cold, the flu can develop into a more serious condition, such as Pneumonia. This is especially true for:
- young children
- older adults
- pregnant women
- people with health conditions that weaken their immune system, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes
How to treat the flu?
In most cases, fluids and rest are the best ways to treat the flu .
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, may control your symptoms and help you feel better. However, never give aspirin to children. It can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome .
How to Prevent flu?
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu shot. Most doctors recommend getting the flu vaccine in October, or at the very start of flu season. However, you can still get the vaccine in late fall or winter.
To avoid picking up the flu virus,
- wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth.
- Try to stay away from anyone who has the flu or flu-like symptoms.
- It’s important to adopt healthy habits to keep cold and flu germs at bay.
- You should always make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise, and manage your stress during cold and flu season and beyond.