Every year, about 20% of Americans are expected to get the flu (influenza). That means you or a family member are likely to have fever, aches, or chills this season. Our flu fighters are here to help you feel better fast!
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What is the flu and how is it different from the common cold? Is it really that serious?
Expert Answer: The flu is very serious. It’s a major killer around the world. On the outside, it differs from a cold because of the severity of its symptoms – it leads to high fevers, body aches and respiratory symptoms. Something else that makes the flu really dangerous is while the immune system is busy fighting it off, other issues can sneak in. Many times, when you read about deaths from the flu, they are deaths resulting from bacterial pneumonia that starts after the flu, when your body is already weak.
How do I know if I have the flu or a cold?
Expert Answer: Initially when the flu starts it can seem like a cold – a runny nose and all over “yucky” feeling. But, within a couple of days, it can become a lot worse and bring muscle pains, a spike in fever and coughing. Children (and some adults) with the flu may also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Use your best judgement and get to the doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have the flu.
What should I do if I think I have the flu?
Expert Answer: See your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have been around someone with the flu. If you are going to get medication, it needs to be earlier rather than later for it to work properly. Other than that, rest and stay hydrated until it runs its course. If you can’t keep fluids down and feel dehydrated, seek immediate medical care.
How can I protect myself from the flu?
Expert Answer: Get the flu vaccine every year. Use other common-sense preventive measures like washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough and keeping kids home from school if they aren’t feeling well.