Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. It usually starts quickly, with fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a dry cough. People of all ages can get the flu. Although most people are ill with the flu for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza can also lead to pneumonia and death.
The influenza virus is generally passed from person to person through the air - when an infected person sneezes or coughs. But the virus can also live for a short time on objects like doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. So, you can also get the flu by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Influenza viruses continually change (mutate). Because the virus changes, people can get the flu no matter what their age. Antibodies from an older strain of influenza only offer partial protection against subsequent strains.
The following are the most common symptoms of the flu:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Severe aches and pains
- Fatigue or feeling very tired
- Sometimes a sore throat
Treatment may include:
- Medications to relieve aches and fever
- Medications for congestion and nasal discharge
- Bed rest and increased intake of fluids
When started within the first 2 days of symptoms, antiviral medications can reduce how long you'll have the flu and the severity of symptoms.
Visit with a Virtual Care health care provider on the phone or online for help with your symptoms.