November 12, 2008

Flu Symptoms

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Do you know the common flu symptoms? Do you know how flu is different from a cold? Learn more about flu symptoms and types so you’ll know what you’re up against this flu season. Find out the warning signs of more serious problems with flu so you can prevent flu complications.

The flu usually starts with the abrupt onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and body aches. Here's a list of flu symptoms you might feel:

* fever (usually high)
* severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes
* generalized weakness
* ill appearance with warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
* headache
* dry cough
* sore throat and watery discharge from your nose

Why do I need to know about flu symptoms?

Flu is an acute respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. It's important to understand flu symptoms so you can seek immediate medical treatment, especially if you have a chronic medical condition.

The earlier you recognize you have flu can also make a difference in how long it lasts. Newer prescription medications called antiviral drugs -- zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) -- are most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. These flu drugs can decrease the duration of the flu by 1 day if used within this early window. These antivirals are usually given for a period of about 5 to 7 days.

What are the different types of flu?

There are three types of flu viruses: A, B, and C. Type A and B cause the annual influenza epidemics that have up to 20% of the population sniffling, aching, coughing, and running high fevers. Type C also causes flu; however, type C flu symptoms are much less severe.

Each year, the flu is linked to an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations in the United States. The seasonal flu vaccine was created to try to avert these epidemics.

What is type A flu virus?

Type A flu or influenza A viruses are capable of infecting people as well as animals; although it is more common for people to suffer the ailments associated with this type of flu. Wild birds commonly act as the hosts for this flu virus.

Type A flu virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics. Influenza A2 virus (and other variants of influenza) is spread by people who are already infected. The most common flu hot spots are those surfaces that an infected person has touched and rooms where he or she has been recently, especially areas where he or she has been sneezing.

What is type B flu virus?

Unlike type A flu viruses, type B flu is found only in humans. Type B flu may cause a less severe reaction than type A flu virus, but occasionally, type B flu can still be extremely harmful. Influenza type B viruses are not classified by subtype and do not cause pandemics.

How is type C flu virus different from the others?

Influenza C viruses are also found in people. They are, however, milder than either type A or B. People generally do not become very ill from the influenza type C viruses. Type C flu viruses do not cause epidemics and are not classified according to subtype.

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Do different types of flu viruses hit the population each year?

Different strains of the flu virus mutate over time and replace the older strains of the virus. This is why it's important to get a flu shot each year to ensure that your body develops immunity to the most recent strains of the influenza virus.

According to the CDC, each flu vaccine contains three influenza viruses: one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in a flu shot and FluMist vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of the flu will be most potent that year.

About 2 weeks after getting a flu shot or FluMist, antibodies that provide protection against the flu viruses develop in your body.





Source: Webmd.com

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