Influenza (flu), is a viral infection that occurs mostly in the winter and late autumn by either the A or B virus. Between 3-5 million people globally are affected by the flu each year, and between 3,000-50,000 deaths occur annually from seasonal flu in the United States alone.
Common symptoms resulting from the flu typically occur 1-4 days after exposure and include:
- Lethargy, fatigue
- Sore, dry throat with cough
- Decreased appetite
- Body aches
The flu usually resolves on its own 1-2 weeks in healthy people. In those that have problems affecting the immune system, it can progress to more serious conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia or infections of the ear or sinus.
Receiving the flu shot, which is usually given between September and February each year, may prevent contracting influenza. While everyone over the age of six months is eligible to receive the vaccine, those who are at high risk and should strongly consider receiving it include:
- People with compromised immunity
- Pregnant women
- Children six months to four years old
- Adults over the age of 50
- Healthcare workers
- Adults with lung problems, heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes or renal disorders