How Does the Flu Spread?
The flu is a virus, a type of infection caused by a microbe that does not respond to antibiotics. Highly contagious, the flu spreads through the air and is released when someone who is infected with the virus coughs, sneezes or speaks. If you inhale these droplets, you may develop flu symptoms within 1 to 7 days. You can also catch the flu by touching an object that has become contaminated with the droplets and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Symptoms of the Flu
Common symptoms of the flu include a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or more, aching in the muscles and joints, chills, redness of the face, headaches, dry coughing, a runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat. Many of the symptoms of the flu are similar to those of a common cold, but often, flu symptoms are more severe.
What Should I Take For the Flu?
There is no cure for the flu; however, you can purchase over-the-counter medications to help address your symptoms. Flu relief medications typically contain pain relievers that lower fevers and lessen body pain and headaches. Most formulas also help to ease the severity of coughing and reduce nasal congestion to help you breathe easier.
In addition to medicinal products approved by the FDA for relieving flu symptoms, there are natural flu relief products available. These products contain herbs that have traditionally been used to alleviate flu symptoms, but there is generally not enough evidence to know how effective these products are for all people.
Helping to Prevent the Spread of the Flu
When there is an outbreak of the flu in your community, at your workplace or at your child's school, you can take steps to reduce your likelihood of getting sick. Washing your hands frequently throughout the day with soap can reduce the chances of you developing the flu from touching contaminated objects. If you plan to be in a crowded place, you can wear a facemask or bandana to minimize the amount of flu virus-laden droplets in the air that you breathe in. Taking self-protection measures may not always be successful at preventing flu, but it can lower your flu risk.
Before taking any type of over-the-counter flu medicine or natural product intended for flu relief, be sure to check with your doctor to ensure that the formula is safe for you. If you have shortness of breath, develop a blue tinge to your lips or feel pain in your chest, see a doctor. Visit your doctor for any flu symptoms if you are over the age of 65, you are pregnant or you have a condition that compromises your immune system. You may require a prescription antiviral medicine to help your body fight the flu, shorten its duration or reduce the risk of complications. back to top »