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What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • about 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults


Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.


How To Get Better Faster When You Have The Flu

If you have the flu, your first priority should be trying to get better. After all, the flu is not something very nice to have. Her are some things that you can try in order to get better from the flu:

Stay at home. Flu is often accompanied by fatigue and muscles aches, so no unnecessary stress should be made on the body during this time. Bed rest is often advisable; at the most a light exercise regimen should be ascribed to, such as a leisurely walk. Try to let the sunshine and fresh air into your room; this will help make your body stronger. Avoid becoming chilled; this will cause your body's immune system to become weaker. Again, don't try to be active. It is important that you conserve your energy as much as possible - your body needs it to combat the sickness.

Get yourself treated as soon as possible. As soon as you think that you are coming down with the flu, rush down to the nearest hospital and ask to be diagnosed. Waiting until you are sure that you have the flu makes little sense - by then you will most likely be miserable and in no way able to go to the hospital yourself.

Make a few lifestyle changes. Stop drinking alcohol or smoking. Both alcohol and nicotine weakens the body's powers of resistance, leaving you more vulnerable to the attacks of the flu virus itself, or perhaps another one. Complications can arise quickly when the body is in a weakened state.

Take your vitamins regularly. Don't forget to take Vitamin C either. 1000 mg of Vitamin C each day will drastically improve your body's capacity to fight infection, and put you on the road to recovery.

Drink plenty of fluids. This allows your body to do a better job of disposing of the toxins inside your body. It also facilitates a number of your bodily processes. When you have fever, the body becomes dehydrated. Water, fruit juices, and soup are all great candidates to help your body recover. Even if you don't feel thirsty, sip water regularly. This will ensure that your body has all the fluids that it needs to recover quickly.

Take paracetamol aspirin, and ibuprofen. These drugs will relieve your headaches and any inflammations, aches, and pains. Take decongestants, cough medicines, gargles, and lozenges whenever necessary to alleviate respiratory symptoms.

Take prescription drugs for influenza. These include amantidine, oseltamivir, and zanamivir. Be sure to ask your doctor about the nature and work of these drugs before you buy them. Never buy them over the internet.

Try acupressure. This is an alternative treatment that involves pressing pressure points in order to induce changes in the body.

Try hydrotherapy. This is an alternative treatment that involves using water to provide warmth to the body and induce sweat, thus disposing of any toxins.

By using these common sense methods to beat the flu, you should be able to get up and running before you know it. Ignore them at your peril.

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Who Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • Children aged 6–59 months of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • Health care workers.

3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza.


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