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Flu facts

Provided by HealthMonitor

Think the flu is no big deal? Not so. Every year, about 5% to 20% of the population contracts the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications from it, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some even die. Here, answers to common questions:

1. What is the flu?
It's a viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). Unlike other viral infections, like colds, the flu can cause life-threatening complications in many people.

2. How do you know if you have it?
Unlike a cold, the flu usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms include a fever and/or chills, a cough, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea.

3. What should you do if you're experiencing symptoms?
Stay home from work, school, social events and public gatherings for at least
24 hours after your fever is gone. If you must leave home, wear a face mask and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often, and limit
contact with others. Most people who get the flu will recover in less than two weeks.

4. When should you see a doctor?
If you're in a high-risk group'meaning you're 65 or older; have a chronic condition like asthma, diabetes or heart disease; or are pregnant'see your doctor immediately. You're at risk for complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infections.

5. What are the treatments?
Ask about an antiviral medication, which can lessen your
symptoms and shorten the time you're sick by one or two days. The drugs can also help prevent complications like pneumonia. Keep in mind, antiviral medications work best if they're started within two days of getting sick, says the CDC, so it's important to act quickly.

Keeping the flu at bay
" Get vaccinated (it's safe for everyone 6 months and older). It's the best way to prevent the flu, says the CDC. " Wash your hands often with soap
and water'or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
" Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing, and be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. The flu spreads through droplets, which are released when you cough or sneeze. The droplets can land in people's mouths or noses.
" Don't touch
your eyes, nose
or mouth.
Asthma Bronchitis Diarrhea Diabetes Mellitis (Type II) Burning In Throat Chills Chronic Cough Cough Diarrhea Emesis Fever Frequent Bowel Movements Headache Loose Bowel Movements Loose Stool Pain Pharyngitis Puking Sore Throat Stool, Loose Stuffy Nose Vomiting Watery Stool Viral Infection Flu Heart Disease Diabetes Fatigue Pneumonia sick Sinus Infection

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