What is the flu?

What many people call the flu is a viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu, which is characterized by diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps and pain. 

Influenza is the true flu. It’s a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system, including your nose, throat, and lungs and both can be very hard on your system

At first, flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat, but while colds usually develop slowly, flu tends to come on suddenly you feel much worse quickly.

For most people, flu resolves on its own. But sometimes flu and its complications can be deadly so it’s important to be extra cautious if you’re at higher risk.

Higher risk folks’ include young children, pregnant women, and those two weeks postpartum, those over 65, those with weakened immune systems and some chronic illnesses, and those who are obese.

Usually, you’ll need nothing more than rest and plenty of fluids, but if you have a severe infection or are at higher risk of complications, your health care professional may prescribe an antiviral drug to treat the flu.

Here are a few tips to avoid the flu:

  • Wash your hands.
    Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers too.
  • Avoid touching your face.
    Specifically, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent spreading viruses.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
    Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Then wash your hands.
  • Clean surfaces.
    Regularly clean often-touched surfaces to prevent spread of infection from touching a surface with the virus on it and then your face.