Viral Flu: Most Frequently Asked Questions

Contributed by: Nancy Dixit

Introduction

Influenza or the flu is a viral disease that causes widespread illness every year.

It is a respiratory disease caused by a viral infection. The flu mostly affects your nose, throat, and lungs.

The flu is a seasonal infection that often occurs in the winter and spreads quickly from person to person. Flu season varies from year to year in severity and duration.

People often confuse cold and flu. They are different, but you may have some of the same symptoms.

Most people get a cold a few times a year. In contrast, people usually get the flu once every few years

Through this article, we bring you some insight into viral flu, including symptoms, causes and some commonly asked questions.

Let’s start with the flu

Flu or influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that can cause serious illness and life-threatening complications (including pneumonia).

It causes a high fever, body aches, a cough, and other symptoms.

It affects people of almost all ages.

The flu is usually spread by inhaling droplets from coughs and sneezes containing the virus.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

You are more likely to get the flu if you have been in contact with someone who already has the flu.

The most common symptoms of the flu are:

  • Sudden fever, cough (usually dry)
  • headache
  • Body aches (especially in the head, lower back, and legs)
  • severe illness (feeling sick)
  • sore throat
  • Cold or stuffy nose
  • cold
  • loss of appetite

Causes of flu

The flu is mostly spread through airborne droplets when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. It can spread from six feet away.

You can get the flu if you touch something with the virus on it and then touch your face, nose, or eyes.

The flu is caused by an influenza virus. There are four seasonal influenza viruses A, B, C and D that are responsible for causing the flu.

Influenza type A and B viruses

Influenza type A and B viruses are the only influenza viruses that cause flu pandemics.

These often lead to more people going to the hospital and more people dying from the flu.

Influenza type C

This type of virus causes very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all. It does not cause epidemics.

It does not have the serious public health implications of influenza A and B types.

Influenza D virus

It primarily affects cattle and is not known to infect or cause illness in humans.

Prevention and treatment

Treatment of the flu with antiviral drugs can reduce the symptoms of influenza, shorten the duration of illness by one to two days, and prevent serious complications such as pneumonia.

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent disease. Safe and effective vaccines are available and have been in use for over 60 years.

Vaccination and practicing prevention are the best ways to reduce the number of influenza infections and deaths for people at risk of complications from the flu.

Immunity Vaccination declines over time so annual vaccination is recommended to protect against influenza.

In healthy adults, the influenza vaccine provides protection. However, in the elderly, influenza vaccination may be less effective in preventing illness but reduces disease severity and incidence of complications and death.

People who work or live with people who are at risk of serious complications should also get vaccinated to avoid spreading the flu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends annual vaccination for:

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Children aged 6 months to 5 years
  • Elderly (above 65 years)
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • health worker

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1. What is influenza (also called the flu)?

Answer: The flu is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs.

It can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes death. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year.

Question 2. Can I get the flu vaccine and the covid-19 vaccine on the same day?

Answer: You can receive your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine on the same day, one after the other if convenient. No time gap is required between these vaccines.

Q3. How does the flu spread virally?

Answer: Most people get the flu virus when they inhale small airborne droplets from the cough or sneeze of someone with the flu, skin-to-skin contact (handshake or hug), etc.

You can get the flu if you touch something with the virus on it and then touch your face, nose, or eyes.

Q4. How can we prevent the flu virus?

Answer: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Injected inactivated influenza vaccines are the most widely used around the world.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age who wants to protect themselves from the flu and its complications.

Question 5. How can I avoid giving influenza (flu) to other people?

Answer: In addition to getting your flu shot, follow these 3 simple steps to stop the spread of the flu-

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap.
  • Rest and recover at home.

Question 6. Should viral patients be isolated?

Answer: Yes, viral patients should be isolated for at least 5-6 days after the onset of symptoms. This virus is contagious and can spread from one sick person to another. So, try to stay at home or isolate yourself to avoid viral spread.

Question 7. Which flu is affected in the monsoon season?

Answer: Sudden changes in temperature during the monsoon season can increase your risk of catching the common cold, cough and other viral infections like the flu.

Proper care and isolation can help reduce flu outbreaks during the rainy season.

Question 8. When should I be vaccinated?

Answer: The typical flu season can fall anywhere between October and May and usually peaks sometime between January and March.

Because the timing of the flu season can be unpredictable, health care providers are encouraged to begin vaccination as soon as the seasonal vaccine becomes available.

Ideally, the vaccine should be administered by the end of October. However, it is never too late to get vaccinated. As long as the flu is circulating, vaccination is recommended.

Last thought

While preventative measures against the flu are highly recommended, getting periodic health checkups is a great way to stay on top of your overall wellness and address any concerns that may pop up before things get out of hand.

Book a full physical health exam today!

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