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Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, Type A and Type B. These viruses can spread from person to person through droplets when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. The flu can affect people of all ages and is typically more prevalent during the colder months. Understanding the symptoms of the flu can help differentiate it from other illnesses, such as COVID-19.
Flu symptoms often include sudden onset of fever, chills, body aches, fatigue with cough and congestion. Flu symptoms usually happen within hours, whereas cold or sinus symptoms gradually occur over days. Flu symptoms can be mild if you have had a flu vaccine.
Differentiating between the flu and COVID-19 can be challenging as both illnesses share similar symptoms. You cannot tell the difference between COVID-19 and the Flu by symptoms alone. If you suspect you have either illness or are unsure about your symptoms, then both a COVID-19 and Flu test are needed to determine which one you have so that you can receive the proper treatment.
Treating the flu involves managing symptoms and allowing your body to heal naturally. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate fever and body aches. Resting, staying hydrated, and avoiding contact with others are also crucial in preventing further spread of the virus. Antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu or Xofluza, can be prescribed. The difference between the two medications is the length of time you take the medication. Tamiflu is taken for 5 days, while Xofluza is taken for 1 day.
The most effective preventive measure is getting an annual flu vaccine. Additionally, practicing good hygiene habits like frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help reduce transmission. Avoiding close contact with sick individuals and wearing face masks in crowded places further decrease your chances of getting infected. If you have been exposed to someone with the flu you can take Tamiflu or Xofluza, especially if you are at high risk for flu complications.
What causes the Flu?
How do I tell the difference between the Flu and COVID-19?
How do you treat the Flu?
Can you prevent the Flu if you've been exposed?
What are flu symptoms?
Please contact your physician to discuss treatment if you:
are under the age of 18