It’s that time of the year when the flu comes in and wrecks havoc on the nation. Having the flu can be a miserable experience. From the symptoms you endure to how it can break down your body, getting the flu is not a fun time at all. What makes matters even worse is that the flu is such an advanced form of the cold that it can trigger other issues within your body. Some symptoms might be ones you’ve never had before, others might be symptoms you’re already living with and this is why.
How The Flu Affects Your Body
First, you have to know how the flu actually works. The influenza virus otherwise known as the flu affects many people each year. In fact, every year, 5 to 20 percent of Americans will be infected with the flu.
Influenza is an infection in the respiratory system and it affects specifically the nose, throat and lungs. The flu is a fast-acting sickness compared to a cold.
A regular cold will gradually worsen over time whereas the flu will hit you full force immediately. Usually, the symptoms are similar to a common cold where you’ll experience a sore throat and a runny and sneezing nose.
Other symptoms of the flu are dry cough, headaches, eye pain, fever and chills, and sweats. The effect that these symptoms have on your body can cause aching muscles, weakness, fatigue and constantly feeling tired. Emergency symptoms include ongoing dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, severe weakness and muscle pain, seizures and or worsening symptoms of chronic illnesses you may already be living with.
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How It Triggers Other Conditions
Since the flu is a respiratory virus, it has the ability to affect other areas in the body and trigger symptoms especially if you are someone who lives with a chronic illness.
Severe cases of the flu can happen and if they do, it can lead to you developing other health problems such as bronchitis, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and heart problems.
The flu can also trigger symptoms of another condition you may be living with. For example, if you are someone who lives with asthma, the flu can cause asthma flare-ups and attacks. If you are someone who lives with eczema, the flu can exacerbate your symptoms. It can cause a general flare or a direct reaction around your nose since you’ll suffer from a runny nose you have to constantly blow. Having to continuously blow your nose can dry out the skin around both your mouth and nose area, which are areas that are prone to eczema.
Do You Know If It’s The Flu?
Since the flu and the common cold have very similar symptoms, you may be confused about which one it is. So how do you know if it’s the flu or a common cold?
Well first, cold symptoms aren’t as severe as flu symptoms. You may feel bad with a cold, but you will feel miserable with the flu.
Secondly, the flu has more symptoms than a cold. With a cold, you may experience a runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and tiredness. With the flu, you’ll experience all of that severely on top of muscle aches and pain, chills, eye pain, ongoing fevers, etc.
If you took note of the severity of your symptoms and are still unsure if it’s a common cold or the flu, then the next best thing to do is to see a doctor to determine which illness it may be.
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What To Do Protect Yourself This Season
In order to stay healthy, you need to be cautious. Stay away from people who are sick seeing as the flu spreads through droplets of bodily fluid (sneezing, coughing, etc) and avoid crowds. Wash your hands often especially after touching high-traffic areas and avoid touching your face. Cover your face when you sneeze and cough to prevent the spreading of germs. Make sure to keep surfaces in your home and workplace clean. Get your annual flu shot. Though it may not be 100% effective, the flu shot is a recommended vaccine that can prevent severe and even fatal cases of the flu. Protect yourself and others this season because your lives depend on it.