There are four different types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D. The first three are detected in people and animals, but type D has never been transmitted to humans. The flu is easily contagious and can spread like wildfire through the air. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and has a large effect on the respiratory system. A person’s throat, nose and lungs are attacked by this virus and people can suffer from symptoms for up to 2 weeks. In rare instances, the flu can cause death.
Below is a list of the most common symptoms of the flu.
- Extreme tiredness
- Sore throat
- Pain in the muscles or body
- Runny or stuffy nose
- High and persistent fever
If you are experiencing the symptoms below, seek medical help immediately:
- Extremely high fever
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Cannot keep any fluids in
Is The Flu Contagious Without A Fever?
Regardless if you have a fever or not, the flu is contagious. Once the bacteria of the flu becomes airborne, it can live in the environment and spread to others. The three main ways to spread the flu are direct contact, airborne and contaminated surfaces. Once the flu is in your body, it can live for up to 9 days with the ability to be contagious. The second to fourth days of the flu are the most contagious. Staying at home is the best way to prevent infecting others with this infection. If you have not experienced any fevers during the flu, then you may think you are not contagious. You are definitely wrong to believe this! The flu is contagious without a fever and can remain contagious throughout your recovery and sometimes even after. A fever can increase the risk of spreading the flu to others, but it is not the only symptom that causes the flu to spread. People with no symptoms can have the flu and not know it. Those with zero symptoms can transmit the flu up to 1 day before their own symptoms start. Children tend to spread the flu much more easily and quicker than adults. Unfortunately, due to a child’s weaker immune system, they are usually the first to catch the flu. Remember that just because you are taking medication it does not mean that you are not contagious.
Cold Versus Flu
Many people are led to believe that the cold and flu are the same. People often times use the words interchangeably when they speaking of how ill they were or are. This is a huge problem because the common cold and flu are different infections. The only things they have in common is that they are both contagious and can make you feel horrible. Here are some of the differences between a cold and flu.
- Colds rarely give you a fever but the flu can prompt a fever up to 102F.
- Intense headaches are more common with a flu than during a cold
- Sneezing and stuffy noses are the bread and butter of a cold, but not necessarily for the flu
- Feeling mild exhaustion during a cold is normal but extreme exhaustion is only associated with the flu
Diagnosis and Treatment
The easiest way to diagnosis the flu is via a nasal swab. This test is used by RIDTs (rapid influenza diagnostic tests). Once a doctor has confirmed you have the flu, they will provide you with the best course of treatment. Contrary to popular belief, antibiotics cannot treat the flu because it is a viral infection and not bacterial. Some of the treatment plans include:
- Antiviral medication such as Peramivir or oseltamivir
- Cough drops or syrup
- Over-the-counter medication such as Aleve or Tylenol
- Drink lots of water, Gatorade, tea and avoid caffeine
- Remember that chicken soup is good for the soul and the flu
Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent yourself from catching a bad case of the flu. Other ways to prevent yourself or others from the flu include:
- Washing your hands
- Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Exercise regularly
- Dress appropriately during weather changes
- Do not use the same napkin or tissue to wipe your nose and someone else’s
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing
- Wear a surgical mask