Influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. The virus spreads through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract, which can lead to congestion, sore throat, sneezing, body aches, and fever. The symptoms of flu tend to come on quickly and can become serious in some cases.
People who are 65 years or older and very young children are generally at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. For these two groups, the body’s natural defense is slightly weaker than that of a young, healthy adult. Taking preventive measures before and during flu season is important for everyone, especially those who fall into the higher risk groups.
Symptoms of the flu
- Fever over 100.5 F
- Achy muscles, especially in back and limbs
- Chills and sweating
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
When are your symptoms serious?
If your condition worsens, seek medical attention. In some cases, the flu virus can cause pneumonia because the immune system is in a weakened state. It is important not to ignore symptoms such as coughing, fever, and trouble breathing, especially after flu symptoms have peaked. Flu combined with pneumonia can be deadly if you do not seek medical attention immediately.
Actions to take during flu season
- Get a flu shot: The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. A vaccine helps the body protect itself against the most common flu viruses during the upcoming season.
- Practice healthy and hygienic habits: Covering coughs, washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick.
- Seek medical advice if you develop flu symptoms
BioFire Respiratory Panel
Unfortunately, with cold and flu season, inappropriate antibiotic use is common. Some patients expect antibiotics to be a quick fix, which is not accurate. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics can be damaging to your health.
BioFire Respiratory Panel tests for a comprehensive set of 20 respiratory viral and bacterial pathogens in an hour. This test allows your healthcare provider to choose the right treatment option for your upper respiratory tract infection.
Nicholas Hanson, MD
Salt Lake Regional Medical Center