Woman sitting on the floor and sneezing

The flu, also known as influenza, is caused by a contagious viral infection that affects the nose and throat. It's a respiratory illness that infects the lungs. Its symptoms range from mild to acute and can resemble those of the common cold. However, flu symptoms are more prolonged and critical than the common cold.

Some people, such as children and people with weakened immune systems, are at a greater risk of contracting the infection. Here are some of the symptoms, causes, preventive measures, and treatments for the flu.


Woman holding a tissue and sniffing due to flu

Initial symptoms of the flu are usually sudden and may include:

●dry cough and sore throat
●stuffy or runny nose
●fatigue and weakness
●cold sweats and shivers
●low appetite
●severe body aches

NOTE: These symptoms vary from person to person—not everyone will have the same and all flu symptoms.


Influenza viruses that infect the throat, lungs, and nose are responsible for the flu. Since these viruses are highly contagious, they can spread quickly through physical contact. They can also be transmitted when a person touches contaminated objects or surfaces or someone with the flu coughs sneezes or talks.

The flu can spread before a person even shows any symptoms. Some people, especially those with a weak immune system or children, can easily get infected. The risk of the flu also increases for people with chronic conditions.
Symptoms of the flu may go away without any complications, but sometimes people may develop a secondary infection such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, ear infection, pneumonia, or bronchitis.

Wash your hands frequently
Because the flu is highly contagious, wash your hands frequently to protect yourself from germs. You can use alcohol-based sanitizer in case you have no access to water and soap.

Don't forget to sanitize your hands afterward to better and guaranteed protection from bacteria.
Avoid close contact with people

It's best to stay at a distance from people who have a cold. Avoid going out, especially in this pandemic when a sneeze can put you at greater risk of catching coronavirus.
Wear a mask
Man is putting on a mask

Always wear a mask when going out in public to stay safe from many kinds of viral and bacterial infections. If you're not wearing a mask, make sure to cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough and stay away from people who have contracted the infection.

Avoid drinking cold water
You may be tempted to drink icy water right from the refrigerator, especially on a hot summer afternoon, but DON'T!

Cold water is one of the biggest reasons for catching the flu. It worsens your already dry and sensitive throat, which leads to chest congestion as more mucus builds up. Cold water can also leave your throat feeling scratchy, which won't help you get better.
Avoid touching your face
Bacteria and viruses can spread easily when you touch something that’s infected then touch your nose, eyes, or mouth.

Adopt healthy habits
Cleaning and disinfecting frequently accessed places at home, workplace, or schools, especially when someone falls sick, is a good practice to maintain.
In addition, getting a good night's sleep strengthens your immune system and lowers the risk of catching the flu. Some other good habits are exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, taking vitamins and supplements, eating a balanced diet, etc.

The treatment of the flu depends on your symptoms. For example, a decongestant help treat sinus or nasal congestion. In addition, you can take an over-the-counter cough and cold relief with various combinations of antihistamines, decongestants, and antipyretics.
But if you have a severe infection, your physician will prescribe antiviral drugs such as zanamivir, oseltamivir phosphate, peramivir, and baloxavir. These drugs will help ease your symptoms and prevent grave complications.
While you're taking medication, here are some things you should be doing side by side:

Drink plenty of fluids: Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and energy drinks to prevent yourself from dehydration. Stay away from caffeinated drinks though as caffeine is a diuretic. Drink herbal tea instead to soothe your sore throat.

Last, you can't drink alcohol—no way!

Rest: Make sure to rest as much as possible. Get more sleep to strengthen your immune system. Don't push yourself to exercise if you don’t feel the energy.

Drink soup: Drinking good old chicken soup is the best for defeating the flu. If you don't like soup, you can always have other warm drinks for some energy.

Have a humidifier: Get a humidifier to ease a sore throat and nasal congestion. If you can’t buy one, take steam several times a day from a steam vaporizer or boiling water on your kitchen stove.

Gargle frequently: Gargling with salt water gets rid of the thick mucus that builds up in your throat so make sure you do that once in a while!

It’s also best to get a flu shot every year as it protects you against the common strains of the virus.

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Author's Bio: 

The author is a professional committed to developing products that improve people’s quality of life. She works with HealthA2Z to create viable solutions that make people's lives easier and, using her expertise and knowledge, serves the healthcare market.