What is the flu?

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The flu is a prevalent infectious condition due to a virus that spreads through sneezing and coughing. The condition can be unpleasant but the individual will usually start to feel better in a matter of a week.

One can acquire the flu or influenza all year round but it is quite common in the winter season which is why it is called as “seasonal flu”. The flu is triggered by various groups of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more abruptly, severe and last longer. Some of the indicative symptoms of flu include the following:

  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Elevated temperature of 38 degrees C or higher
  • Headache
  • Dry cough
    One can acquire the flu or influenza all year round but it is quite common in the winter season which is why it is called as “seasonal flu”.
  • Generalized ache

The cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, runny or clogged nose and sore throat can also be instigated by flu, but they are less severe than the other symptoms. In most cases, the condition can leave the individual exhausted and sick that he/she has to stay in bed and rest until he/she feels better.

What to do for flu?

If the individual is otherwise healthy and fit, there is no need to consult a doctor if flu-like symptoms manifest.

The ideal remedy is to encourage the individual to rest at home, ensure that he/she stays warm and provided with plenty of fluids to drink to avoid dehydration. You can provide the individual with ibuprofen or paracetamol to reduce the fever as well as relieve the aches if needed.

Avoid going to school or work until feeling better. For most individuals, this usually takes about a week.

When to seek further care

It is best to set an appointment with a doctor for the following:

  • If the individual is over 65 years old or older
  • Pregnant women
  • Individual has a long-term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease or neurological condition
  • Individual has a weakened immune system such as those undergoing chemotherapy or diagnosed with HIV
  • The symptoms are becoming worse over time or does not seem to improve after a week
  • The individual develops shortness of breath, chest pain, difficulty breathing or coughs up blood

In such cases, medication is usually required to treat or prevent the complications of flu from developing. The doctor might recommend antiviral medications to minimize the symptoms as well as promote faster recovery.

Time frame of flu and its severity

If an individual acquires the flu, he/she generally starts to feel sick within a few days after being infected. The individual will feel better within a week or so, but the feeling of tiredness can last longer

The individual is highly infectious on the day the symptoms start and up to 3-7 days. Those who have weakened immune systems might stay infectious for a longer period. Many will not reach full recovery and will no longer experience any issues, but the elderly and those who have long-term health conditions are likely to end up with a severe case of flu or develop serious complications such as chest infection.


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