Flu Facts

At the moment there’s not a lot of great information about a possible new flu strain originating in Asia.  It’s also flu season (which is October-May, not just the winter season) in the Northern Hemisphere, and there are a lot of facts available about traditional flu, though there’s not much knowledge among the general population about it other than it’s something we don’t want to get.  In this article we’ll revisit some of those key facts and remind you about how to stay healthy this flu season.

What is the flu?

The flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness which affects the nose, throat, and lungs and can, in certain circumstances, lead to death.  The flu shares some overlapping symptoms with a cold (which is also a respiratory illness), but flu symptoms are always far more intense.  Those symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny/stuff nose
  • muscle/body aches
  • headaches
  • general fatigue

and most often in children, vomiting and diarrhea.  In fact, children under 18 are twice as likely to get the flu than people over the age of 65.

How can you get it?

On average, 8% of the US population contracts a form of the flu every single year.  You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after displaying symptoms, but you’re also contagious the day before you start displaying symptoms as well.  You are most likely to contract the disease from someone who has refused to stay home despite experiencing symptoms, or touching a surface that such a person has recently touched.

While getting a flu shot can help, it is by no means a sure thing, as not only can it take up to two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your system, the bet is around the strain of virus that has been identified as most likely to be circulating that year, but you may contract a different variety.  Staying away from sick people and washing your hands more frequently than you are accustomed to are simple and effective measures to help steer you clear.

How do you get through it?

Our soft age demands easy fixes, but more often than not, the flu simply has to be gotten through rather than beaten with some special medicine.  You can take antiviral drugs, but you will need a prescription for these.  Antiviral drugs can lessen the fever and other symptoms, as well as shorten your time of illness by up to a day.  The traditional measures – sleep, chicken noodle soup, green tea – help by giving your body the time and space it needs to do what it does best: manufacture antibodies specifically designed to take down the virus that has infected you.  Often some of the swelling and worsening of symptoms is due precisely to your body trying to heal itself, which is why often it has to get a little worse before things get better.

In the meantime, stay patient, be grateful to live in the first world where you can access medicine easily and get the rest you need to heal.  And in those moments in which you’re feeling better, catch up on some movies or TV shows you’ve been meaning to watch.

Do you have any traditional home remedies to combat the flu?  Share them in the comments below.

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