The flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the Influenza A, B, or C virus. It is usually transmitted when you inhale flu droplets in the air from an infected person who coughed, sneezed, or talked around you, or when you touch the droplets on a surface then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes. An infected person can be contagious 1 day before he/she experiences symptoms, so the virus can spread rapidly as infected people do not realize they should be taking precautions around others. Although you can develop the flu at any time of year, it is most common in the fall and winter.
FLU vs. A COLD
Flu symptoms can cause people to experience a fever, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, and/or fatigue; the symptoms usually comes on suddenly and last for about a week. The flu’s severity can range from mild for the general population to life-threatening for those with under-developed or weak immune systems, such as young children or the elderly.
A cold may last for the same amount of time, but it usually only causes gradual and mild symptoms of a runny/stuffy nose and a cough.
Also, the flu virus infects the whole body (muscle aches, etc.) vs. the cold, which usually only affects the head.
Does it matter whether you have the flu or a cold? Yes, because the flu can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, so it is best to treat the flu within 48 hours of experiencing symptoms.
TREAT YOUR FLU
After confirming that you have the flu at your doctor’s office, you may be able to recover more quickly with antiviral treatment, such as Tamiflu®, if taken within the first 48 hours of experiencing symptoms. You may also treat your symptoms with Tylenol® or Motrin®, decongestants, nasal saline, bed rest, and increased fluids. Because the flu is caused by the Influenza virus and not bacteria, antibiotics will NOT help.
STOP THE FLU!
Your BEST DEFENSE against the flu is preventing it from happening in the first place. How can you do that?
- Get the flu shot – according to the CDC, the flu shot may reduce the risk of getting the flu by 40% – 60%.
- The flu usually hits San Diego in December / January. SDSM starts giving flu shots in October.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently, or use hand sanitizer if you have no access to soap and water.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others who are coughing and sneezing.
- If someone in your house is sick, wipe shared surfaces (computers, phones, doorknobs, etc.) with disinfectant.
San Diego Sports Medicine & Family Health Center has the flu vaccine available, and it is covered by most insurance plans. If you are without insurance, it is available for $30 per shot.
The content provided in our website blogs is offered for informational purposes only, and it should not be considered as the practice of medicine or medical advice regarding the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease. You should consult with a medical professional if you have any questions regarding a condition or disease in relation to your specific healthcare needs. If you feel that you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 immediately.