Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Most people who get the flu will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu. A wide range of complications can be caused by the virus infecting the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, throat) and lower respiratory tract (lungs). While anyone can get sick with flu and become severely ill, some people are more likely to experience severe flu illness. Young children, adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization and sometimes resulting in death.
Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, and multi-organ failure. Flu virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. People with asthma and/or chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of these conditions triggered by flu.
If you are experiencing any symptoms avoid public places like work and school; make a doctors appointment immediately; and take extra care of yourself with lots of rest and fluids. The only way to prevent the flu is a flu shot. If you’ve not had a flu shot this flu season get one ASAP! If you have questions, symptoms of the flu or need a flu shot call HealthPoint Family Care at (859) 655-6100 and let our qualified providers help you. Or checkout our website here and take advantage of our walk in hours at an office closest to you.