What is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is one of many respiratory infections caused by a virus. There are quite a few different varieties of respiratory viruses that like to make a home in your respiratory tract – otherwise known as your mouth, nose, throat and lungs.
In most cases, these viruses all exhibit cold- and flu-like symptoms that include:
What we like to call the “flu” might be one of these types of viruses, and each one can be the starting point for other ailments if not treated properly or if your immune system is weakened. For example, RSV commonly heads into the lungs to cause bronchitis or pneumonia among children under the age of one.
How do these viruses get spread?
Unfortunately, most viruses have an incubation stage. This is a period of time where the person with the virus shows no symptoms but is able to infect others. This period can last between one and 10 days, with the virus being most contagious during the first few days. In some cases, the virus can still be contagious after you’ve recovered from it, therefore good hygiene is very important.
The most common ways the virus can be spread are:
Smokers, asthma and hay fever sufferers, and those with weakened immune systems, are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses and should ensure that they keep a very high alert during “flu season”.
Prevention is better than cure!
Finding a cure for respiratory viruses is very hard, as, unlike bacterial infections, you cannot take an antibiotic to cure them. This means that preventing yourself from getting sick is the best form of cure. Some of the best ways to keep yourself safe from “the flu” this year are to:
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