What Is the Flu: Here’s All You Need to Know

What Is the Flu: Here’s All You Need to Know

Sep 01, 2020

Almost anyone can attest to the scratchy throat, the fever or chills, the runny nose, and all the other irritating symptoms that come with the flu.

Almost anyone can attest to the scratchy throat, the fever or chills, the runny nose, and all the other irritating symptoms that come with the flu. This is one of the most common infections known to man. 

Yearly, we are treating thousands of patients who are seeking flu treatment in Lake Jackson. This trend cuts across the nation since millions of Americans seek emergency treatment for flu in 24-hour emergency clinics. 

It is a contagious disease and can cause mild to severe illness. In some scenarios, the disease is known to cause death. Hence, there is a need to go to an emergency room near you or our 24-hour emergency clinic to get a flu shot each year.

What Is the Flu?

Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious and is caused by various influenza viruses. Some influenza viruses cause mild symptoms, while others cause fatal symptoms.

The influenza virus attacks the respiratory system – your lungs, nose, and throat, and should not be confused with the stomach “flu” which is a different type of virus that affects the digestive tract. 

In most cases, the infection clears on its own and will need some managing, and you will be up and running in no time. However, some people find themselves fighting for their lives, and at times they don’t make it. These are the people who are at higher risk of developing complications:

  • Adults over 65 years old
  • Children under five years, especially those under 12 months
  • Pregnant women and two weeks postpartum (after giving birth)
  • People who are immunocompromised (weak immune systems)
  • Obese people with a BMI of over 40
  • People with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and asthma

Symptoms of the Flu    

People easily confuse common cold symptoms with flu symptoms. But, these are two different infections caused by two different types of viruses. One primary difference in the symptoms is that, with the flu, the symptoms will come on suddenly. 

To prevent further spreading of the infection and possibly help you avert complications, you need to know some of the early flu symptoms. These may include:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sore throat or scratchy throat
  • Sudden or excessive fatigue

Other than the above, you may experience most or all the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 38 degrees Celsius
  • Aching muscles
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose

However, not everyone experiences a fever, so also be on the look-out for the other symptoms. If you have these symptoms and you are at risk of getting complications, then you will need to seek emergency treatment for flu.

Different Types of Flu            

Influenza is one of the most confusing infections because of the many types of influenza viruses that exist. There are four types, and in those types, there are subtypes and strains, so this is understandably confusing to most people.

Here are the different types of influenza virus:

  • Influenza A

Type A influenza is common to many people because it causes most infections in human beings. It causes a majority of the seasonal flu cases, and the cases are the most severe. It has two main subtypes: H and N and many strains.

It is primarily spread from person to person through direct contact (sneezing and coughing) or indirectly through touching contaminated surfaces.

Influenza A can also infect animals, and birds are common hosts for this type of virus.

The virus strains that have been identified are 131 and theoretically can reach up to 198. This is why you will hear that the virus mutates so fast and why it causes pandemics.

An infection typically lasts one or two weeks.

  • Influenza B

Type B influenza primarily affects humans and can be dangerous but less severe than influenza A. They are known to cause epidemics and not pandemics. Infection may last for about two weeks.

  • Influenza C

Influenza C is known to infect only humans and is less severe than type A and B. The virus causes mild illness, and evidence shows that it hasn’t caused seasonal flu epidemics.

Most people who will be infected with type C will exhibit symptoms the same as the common cold. But can cause severe illness to infants, people with weak immune systems, and older adults. 

An infection can last about three to seven days.

  • Influenza D

This type of influenza was isolated form cattle and swine. There is still no evidence that this virus infects human beings, although scientists believe that it might be possible.

With good health habits and seeking preventive measures like getting flu shots each year at our 24-hour emergency clinic, you can dramatically reduce the chances of getting infected. Call our doctor today at Altus Emergency Center in Lake Jackson if you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment.

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