Influenza, or flu, is an easily spread respiratory tract infection. It is caused by a virus. About 5% to 20% of people in the U.S. get the flu each year. The flu usually starts abruptly, with fever, muscle aches, sore throat and a cough. The flu can make people of any age ill. Although most people are ill with the flu for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to go to the hospital. The flu can also lead to pneumonia and death.
Annual flu vaccines are the primary recommendation to prevent the flu. Along with flu vaccines, following these precautions may also be helpful:
• When possible, avoid or limit contact with infected people.
• Frequent hand washing may reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of infection.
• A person who is coughing or sneezing should cover his or her nose and mouth with a handkerchief to limit spread of the virus.
Learn more about the flu and how you can help prevent it through these helpful articles from WellSpan Health.
Learn more about the flu including what causes the flu, the symptoms you may experience, how it is diagnosed and treated as well as how it can be prevented in this overview.
This overview of influenza in children includes a comparison between cold and flu symptoms as well as information on vaccines and antiviral medications.
The Rapid Influenza Antigen test, or the Rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT), quickly checks for signs of the influenza viruses A and B in a sample of secretions from your nose or throat. Learn more about this test and other diagnostic tests for flu.
The Quantitative Influenza Antibody test, also known as Direct immunofluorescence (DFA) or indirect immunofluorescence (IFA) antibody staining, checks for influenza antibodies in a sample of secretions from your nose or throat. It uses a staining technique to look for influenza antibodies. Results may be available in 1 to 4 hours. Results from these rapid testing methods are not as accurate as conventional viral cultures—another type of influenza test—but are commonly used as initial screening tests.