It starts with one sneeze, in an enclosed office.
Or a cough, in a classroom.
Suddenly, before you know it, the flu is everywhere.
People use the term “flu” to mean almost any sickness from a stomach ailment to a severe cold, but the actual illness is from the influenza virus. The most common symptoms are chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort. Nausea and vomiting may occur.
Typically the flu is transmitted through the air, by coughs and sneezes, but also through direct contact with the mucus membranes (ie, someone coughs into their hand, then shakes yours).
A blood test is used to determine if it’s actually the flu or not, but many physicians go ahead and treat the symptoms.
Flu vaccines are offered each season (flu is more virulent in the winter), but strains of the flu are constantly changing and becoming resistant to vaccines and medications.
The flu is treated with plenty of rest and fluids and over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.