Flu season is coming and it’s time to look at best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Flu season can start as early as October. Flu season usually peaks between December and February but sometimes it runs through to April and May.
Known as “the flu” or “flu”, influenza is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Influenza infections affect people differently. Symptoms may vary from a mild fever through to hospitalization or even potentially death.
If you think you have the flu it is important to visit your doctor to make sure that you do not have some other condition or illness other than the flu.
Types of influenza:
Influenza A and Influenza B: Both of these flus are contagious and are the main flus that are considered seasonal, spreading in the late fall to winter in the U.S.
Influenza C: While still contagious, this flu is milder than Influenza A and Influenza B, and is not thought to be the cause of epidemics.
Influenza D: Does not infect people, but primarily affects cattle.
Each of these influenza viruses can be broken down even further into different lineages and strains. For example, Influenza A has subtypes H1N1, H3N2. In 2009 there was a new Influenza A (H1N1) that made thousands of people very ill, and it was different from the previous strain of Influenza A (H1N1). At the time of this article, there are two lineages of Influenza B: B/Victoria and B/Yamagata.
Spreading the Flu
Believe it or not, you do not need to touch or stand near a person who has the flu in order to catch it. The virus can travel up to six feet should an infected person cough or sneeze. It can also be transmitted by touching a surface that has the active virus on it.
Most people who have the flu are contagious for the first 3-5 days after they have their first symptoms. Some may be contagious even a day or so before having their own symptoms appear.
Who is at Risk for Flu Complications?
There are some people with certain physical or medical conditions that are at higher risk for becoming sick with flu-related complications that may make their chronic health conditions worse. According the Centers for Disease Control this is the list of health and age factors for high risk individuals.
Other people at high risk from the flu:
Tips to Help You Avoid Getting the Flu
The number one protection against the flu is the flu vaccine. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine every flu season. Speak to your doctor about the vaccines and any possible side effects.
Do You Have The Flu?
If you catch the flu speak to your doctor about antiviral drugs you can take to help reduce your chances of getting flu related complications. Antiviral drugs for the flu work best if started within a couple of days of symptoms appearing.
This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnoses or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).