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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What is Flu?

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What is the flu?

Flu symptoms begin suddenly and are more severe than those of a common cold or upper respiratory infection. Although flu infections differ, most cause the following symptoms:

· Fever for 4 – 5 days (38°C/100.4°F or higher)

· Chills, rigors

· Tiredness or extreme exhaustion, headache, muscle ache

· Decreased appetite

· Dry cough

· Runny nose

· Sore throat

· Mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (gastrointestinal symptoms more common in children)

Complications of the flu include pneumonia, dehydration and sometimes death.
It can also aggravate underlying medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

How can I tell if I have the flu or a cold?
If you have some of the above symptoms and not others, you may have a cold.

Cold symptoms come on more gradually than flu, and they do not usually include fever, headache, extreme exhaustion or severe muscle aches.
Colds are typified by sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat.

When am I contagious? How long will I be ill?
Generally, people with seasonal influenza are contagious one day before they show symptoms and for about seven days after they start to feel sick.
Patients typically suffer flu symptoms for 5 – 10 days.

How can I prevent passing the flu on to others?
· Cover your nose and mouth if you cough / sneeze, with the inside of your elbow, not your hands.
· Stay home when you are ill.
· Avoid close contact with others (hugging, kissing) and do not share eating utensils.
· Frequently disinfect shared household objects like faucets and doorknobs.
· Wash your hands frequently, and advise others to do the same.

How can I prevent getting the flu?
The best way to avoid the flu is to have an annual vaccination.
Maintain optimal health, and practice good personal hygiene.

Can’t my doctor give me an antibiotic?
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and thus will not help you recover from influenza since it is a virus.
Only anti-viral drugs can help you recover more quickly, and these must be taken within two days of developing symptoms to be effective.
Antivirals may reduce the length of your illness by one or two days and may make you less contagious.

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