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What is influenza?

Influenza or flu is a viral disease that is particularly common in the late fall, winter and early spring. The main symptoms are runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, headache and muscle ache. Influenza usually lasts up to five days, however, it is common for a recovering person to feel tired and achy for several weeks afterwards.

Complications from influenza are rare but potentially very dangerous. They may include pneumonia, brain and nerve damage and even death.

Influenza is a viral disease. That basically means that it cannot be cured with antibiotics. Antiviral drugs are sometimes prescribed in cases when doctors suspect the disease may lead to complications. The treatment mainly consists of resting, taking plenty of fluids and improving the intake of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Influenza is contagious and spreads easily from an infected to a healthy person. The main route of infection is through droplets of saliva, in direct or indirect contact, such as hand-to-mouth. This viral disease is particularly easily spread in closed environment, such the office, school or kindergarten.

Symptoms of influenza

Influenza often involves symptoms similar to those of a common cold, such as sneezing, runny nose or nasal congestion. It also involves sore throat, coughing, fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, fatigue, lack of appetite, restless sleep, diarrhea, nausea and such.

The symptoms vary from person to person but, in general, influenza is a tiring and frustrating disease that makes it difficult to perform daily tasks. People who have influenza usually stay in bed because they feel quite exhausted. Taking a day or two off work or school is very common with influenza.

The symptoms generally last from three to seven days. However, even after that period, when the fever, sore throat and runny nose are over, a person will still feel tired and weak, and dry cough may persist for another week.

Types of influenza

There are three main types of influenza. Type A influenza is the most serious type, with acute symptoms. It is also very common and it comes and goes in pandemic cycles every two or three years. The 2009/2010 pandemic was caused by influenza A H1N1.

Type B influenza has the symptoms that are similar to those of type A influenza, only milder. This type of influenza breaks out every four to five years.

Type C influenza is the least serious one. The symptoms are mild, similar to common cold, and they last shorter.

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