Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your throat, nose and lungs. It commonly called the flu is not the same as the stomach "flu" viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Its complications can be deadly. People who are at higher risk of developing complications of flu include:
• Young children
• Older adults
• Pregnant women
• People with weakened immune systems
• People who have chronic illnesses

Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. Cold expands slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly.

Symptoms and signs:
• Fever over 100 F (38 C)
• Aching muscles
• Chills and sweats
• Headache
• Dry cough
• Fatigue and weakness
• Nasal congestion

Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection talks, coughs or sneezes. You can pick up the germs from an object like computer keyboard, telephone or you can inhale the droplets directly, and then the virus is transferred.

Risk factors:
• Age: Seasonal influenza tends to target young children and people over 65.
• Occupation: Health care workers and child care personnel are more likely to have close contact with people infected with influenza.
• Living conditions: People who live in facilities along with many other residents, such as military barracks or nursing homes are more likely to develop influenza.
• Weakened immune system: Anti-rejection drugs, cancer treatments, corticosteroids and HIV/AIDS can weaken your immune system. This hence can make it easier for you to catch influenza and may also increase your risk of developing complications.
• Chronic illnesses: Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart problems, may increase your risk of its complications.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women are more likely to develop its complications

Usually, you'll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids to treat the flu. In some cases, the doctor prescribes antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). If taken soon these drugs may shorten your illness by a day or so and help prevent serious complications.

• Wash your hands. Best way to prevent many common infections is by thorough and frequent hand-washing. Scrub your hands continuously for at least 15 seconds.
• Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child auditoriums, care centers, schools, and public transportation and office buildings.

Author's Bio: 

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