Influenza is commonly known by most people in the short-form as the flu. The flu is a virus, so it can’t be treated with antibiotics. It is contagious, which means it can spread from person to person. Some people get affected more seriously when they catch the flu than others because some people have weaker immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such people at a higher risk for flu-related health complications include those who are 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5 and even more so with children younger than 2. Other people who are at a higher risk for influenza complications include people with HIV or AIDS, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and women who are pregnant.

According to the CDC, a person would know he or she has the flu due to some or all of these signs and symptoms: fever (not every person will get this) or feverish/chills-kind of feeling, very tiredness, headaches, sore throat, cough, vomiting and diarrhea (mostly from children), runny or stuffy nose, and body/muscle aches. People who catch the flu may not show signs and symptoms until after a few days they got it, which means they can spread the virus to other people unknowingly. People who get the flu will experience the illness with different degrees of seriousness. Some people will even need hospital treatment and could even die from flu-induced complications (pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma attacks if person has asthma), and some people will experience it more mildly by showing some or all the before-mentioned signs and symptoms. Those who experience the flu mildly will get better by reducing their signs and symptoms within a few days or up to a couple of weeks depending on several factors including the individual’s unique immune system, amount of rest he or she gets, and early treatment by certain antiviral drugs.

The recommended way to prevent getting the flu is by getting the flu shot each year during flu season. People with the flu already should wash their hands more frequently to decrease chances of spreading it to more people. If a person has a fever due to the flu, that person should stay home for at least 24 hours after he or she doesn’t have the fever anymore. Limiting contact with people who are sick and avoid touching nose, eyes, and mouth are also recommendations to decrease chances of getting the flu.

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