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What are some telltale signs of the flu?

It is important to recognize the symptoms to tell whether you have this contagious infection or just a common cold

What are some telltale signs of the flu?

According to a recent weekly report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this flu season has been the worst since the 2014-2015 one, with more than 37 children dead. Earlier this month, health officials said hospitalizations and visits to the doctor are on the rise because of flu symptoms. It's important to recognize them to tell whether you have the nasty infection or just a common cold.

A flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can be mild, or it can be severe, and can even lead to death.

According to the CDC, symptoms of the flu include:

•    Fever, or feeling feverish/chills
•    Cough
•    Sore throat
•    Runny or stuffy nose
•    Muscle or body aches
•    Headaches
•    Fatigue (tiredness)
•    Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea. However, the CDC says this is more common among children than adults.

Those who are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications should take extra precautions when they feel symptoms coming on. The CDC says these include children under 5 years old, particularly those under 2. Also adults 65 and older are at high risk, as well as pregnant women, residents of long-term care facilities, and people with medical conditions including weakened immune systems, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.

Any person with lung disease, vasculitis, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease or any type of neurological condition is also prone to the virus. 

The flu is dangerous because it can quickly lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and even death. It can also make chronic conditions such as asthma and congestive heart failure worse.

The most important thing is prevention: avoiding anyone who is sick, if possible, said Dr. Bernard Camins, also an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases. "This includes avoiding public areas where they could get infected, staying away from family or friends who may be sick and not allowing sick individuals into their homes. They also need to practice proactive and frequent hand hygiene. Prevention is the key."

Both over-the-counter and prescription medications may be recommended for the common cold or the flu: 

•    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, which can relieve pain, reduce fever and ease inflammation.
•    Antihistamines to combat sneezing, watery eyes and sinus congestion.
•    Nasal decongestants such as Mucinex will help to ease sinus pressure.

If you're still not sure if you have a flu, the best thing you can do is head to the doctor and get a quick test to determine whether or not you have this infection. 

"If we catch it quickly, there are medications we can prescribe to shorten the severity and duration of the flu," explains Dr. Canfield, "So if you have any questions about whether you have the flu, don't delay, go in right away and have that test done". 

 

Latin American Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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