Influenza, commonly known as flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can even lead to death. Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, and tiredness. In addition, some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Treatment for flu includes getting lots of rest and fluids, taking antiviral medications, avoiding contact with other people, and taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and cough medicine. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu.


The most common symptoms of flu include fever, chills, body aches, headache, sore throat, dry cough, fatigue, stuffy or runny nose, and vomiting or diarrhea. Other symptoms may include sneezing, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and loss of appetite.


The known causes of the flu are viruses, such as Influenza A, Influenza B, and Influenza C. These viruses enter the body through the nose or throat and spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and contact with contaminated surfaces. Other risk factors for getting the flu include contact with others who have the flu, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, smoking, and a weakened immune system.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors associated with increasing the chances of contracting the flu. These include weaker or compromised immune systems, smoking, poor nutrition, fatigue, age (children, seniors, and pregnant women are at higher risk), contact with people who have the flu virus, being around large groups of people, being in overcrowded environments, lack of sleep, and living in areas with high flu activity.


Flu is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam and the person’s symptoms. A health care provider may also order tests, such as a rapid antigen test or a nasal swab test, to confirm the presence of the flu virus. A chest x-ray, blood work, or other tests may also be used to help diagnose or rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.


The various subtypes of flu are divided into types A, B, and C.

Type A flu is the most common type, and it’s usually the most severe. It is caused by viruses that can infect both animals and humans, so it is the most contagious of the three types. Type A flu is divided into two further subtypes – H1N1 and H3N2 – depending on the proteins found on the surface of the virus. The subtype H1N1 was responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Type B flu is less common and less severe than type A, and is usually limited to humans. Type B flu is also divided into two subtypes, but the differences between the subtypes are not always clearly identified.

Finally, type C flu is the least common and least severe of the three types. It is usually associated with mild symptoms, and it does not have subtypes.


The treatment options for the flu vary depending on the severity of the case. Generally, treatment options include rest, fluids, OTC medications to reduce fever, congestion, and other flu symptoms, and antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, to reduce the duration of the illness. If symptoms become severe, it is important to contact a physician for further evaluation.


There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting the flu.

  1. Get a flu shot every year. It is recommended to get a flu shot each year in order to reduce the risk of catching the flu.
  2. Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. This will help stop the spread of germs.
  3. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
  5. Disinfect surfaces. Disinfect surfaces and objects that may have come into contact with someone who is infected.
  6. Cover your mouth and nose. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing can help prevent the spread of germs. It is also important to throw tissue away after use.
  7. Stay home when you are sick. If you are feeling sick, it is best to stay home and rest until you are feeling better. This will help prevent others from getting sick.

Gender differences?

Gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of the flu can include differences in symptom severity and complications. Women have consistently been found to report more severe flu symptoms than men, including longer duration of illness, greater intensity of symptoms, and greater fatigue. Women are also more likely to experience flu-associated complications such as ear and sinus infections. Furthermore, women may be more likely than men to seek medical advice and treatment for the flu, potentially associated with higher levels of health consciousness. Additionally, women are more likely than men to experience severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines, which may impact their flu management.


Nutrition plays an important role in the management of flu. Proper nutrition can help boost the immune system and help the body fight off the flu virus. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals that can help boost the immune system. Drinking plenty of fluids is also essential for maintaining hydration and keeping the body cool. Additionally, increasing intake of zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamin C can help to reduce the duration and severity of flu symptoms.

Physical Activity

Physical activity has been associated with many health benefits, including reducing the risk of developing flu or reducing the severity of the symptoms if it is contracted. Exercise helps boost your immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and white blood cells, which are important for fighting off infections and viruses like influenza. Regular exercise can also increase your body temperature, which is known to reduce the growth of viruses and bacteria. Additionally, physical activity can reduce stress, which has been linked to weakened immunity and increased susceptibility to infection.

Further Reading

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/references.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22148/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/flu.html
  5. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/flu-influenza

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