This year’s flu season is considered to be the most severe in recent years. It has already caused 37 pediatric deaths, 12,000 hospitalizations for laboratory-confirmed influenza and more than 74,562 lab-confirmed flu cases. This season, H3N2 strain is the most predominant, which causes outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B viruses responsible for flu epidemics.
Here’s what you should know about the flu and how you can stay protected:
Types of Flu
There are mainly three types of influenza virus- A, B, and C. Influenza viruses A and B cause epidemics every winter, while virus C causes mild respiratory problems. Virus A is further divided into subtypes, and both A & B viruses are further classified into different strains.
What Are the Causes?
The flu virus is contagious and can be spread from one person to another through small particles or droplets in a cough or sneeze of the infected person. It can also spread through contaminated surfaces and in crowded places, such as offices or schools.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young children, older people, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are at a great risk of acquiring the flu.
How to Know You Are Infected with Influenza Virus!
It’s very common for people to get the flu and a cold confused. Both flu and cold symptoms may include a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. The following table will help you understand the difference between cold and flu.
Signs and Symptoms of Influenza A
Symptoms of influenza A may be moderate to severe and vary from person to person. A person suffering from influenza A may show some or all of the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea, more common in children
Signs and Symptoms of Influenza B
Influenza B is similar to influenza A, and shares some common symptoms. However, influenza B has milder symptoms. The following are some of the symptoms of influenza B:
- Fever, but will not be as acute as influenza A
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Stuffy/Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
How a Person with the Flu Gets Cured
Most people infected with influenza recover within 1-2 weeks without any medical treatment. The following will help in the treatment of flu:
- Plenty of fluids
- Enough rest to recover
- Over-the-counter painkillers and aspirin for fever and aches
- Cough syrups and decongestant drops
- Antiviral medications
However, it’s important to consult a doctor before trying any self-remedies.
Prevention Tips for Influenza Viruses A & B
The best way to prevent flu is to prevent germs from spreading. Healthy habits can help ward off influenza viruses. Follow these tips to avoid getting infected with influenza viruses A & B:
- Get the flu vaccine every year
- Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Don’t touch your mouth or nose with unwashed hands
- Cover your sneeze and cough, stay away from someone who is sneezing or coughing
- Avoid touching contaminated surfaces or use disinfectant wipes to keep these surfaces clean
- Wear a face mask
- Get enough sleep and relax to power a good immune system
If you or your family member develops any flu symptoms, visit a doctor or a family care center near you (Fountain Valley Urgent Care, Woodbridge WalkIn, Costa Mesa Urgent Care) for effective treatment or prevention.
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