Influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that causes fever, cough, aches, tiredness, and headaches. The difference between the flu and a cold is that the flu typically lasts longer and is more severe. A common cold will cause runny or stuffy noses.
You will generally only experience the flu once every few years and your symptoms will probably last over a week. The fever and aches are usually strongest at the very beginning and subside a few days in. The sneezing, sore throat, cough and runny nose are present a few days longer. Flu symptoms to expect:
- A fever of 100 degrees or higher
- Extreme fatigue/aches
- Sore throat
The influenza virus has a handful of causes. Most people catch the flu by coming into contact with a person who has it, or via the air through sneezes or coughs. The flu may also be caught by touching a surface or an object that has been contaminated and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Ways to prevent the flu:
- Wash your hands before meals
- Clean hands prior to touching your face
- Keeping your workspace clean
The flu is fairly easy to diagnose. The symptoms are very straight forward, but your doctor may choose to give you an influenza diagnostic test. Getting a swab sample is one of the fastest ways to rule out other illnesses. When diagnosed within the first 48 hours of initial symptoms, flu medications will be most effective. Having a swab test can also help to determine the best form of treatment.