Are you at risk ?
Each year, between 5% and 20% of Americans find themselves huddled under blankets and cuddled up with tissue boxes as they battle influenza, or "the flu." The term "flu" is often erroneously used as a catch-all to describe just about any bout of ill health, especially the common cold. To best protect yourself against the ill effects of the flu, it is important to understand its unique signs and symptoms, and who is most at risk for potentially serious complications.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a variety of influenza viruses that usually infect the nose, throat, or lungs. Colds tend to present less severe symptoms than the flu, and usually do not lead to pneumonia, bacterial infections, bronchitis, or hospitalizations, according to the CDC.
While a fever is a common symptom of the flu, the CDC emphasizes that not all flu sufferers become feverish. Other common symptoms include extreme fatigue, aches, chills, cough, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose. Vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC, are more common in children than adults.
Most cases of the flu require little, if any, medical attention to restore good health. Some people, however, are particularly at risk for developing serious complications, even death:
· people 65 years of age and older
· children under age 5
· pregnant women
· American Indians and Alaskan natives
· people diagnosed with asthma, neurological disorders, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endochrine disorders, diabetes, kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, and people with weakened immune systems
· Individuals 19 and younger undergoing long-term assprin therapy
· People who are morbidly obese
By knowing the signs and symptoms of the flu, as well as your risk for complications, you can take the right steps to get back to good health.