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What is Seasonal Influenza?

Seasonal influenza is also often referred to as the flu. There are a few different types of influenza, but the seasonal variety tends to be the most common. The term seasonal is often used to describe this type of influenza because it normally begins spreading during the fall and winter months every year. Even though seasonal influenza is usually more common during the colder months, it is still possible for people to catch it at any time of year. This type of influenza spreads very easily from one person to another, and doctors usually recommend that everyone get a yearly flu vaccine to help prevent the spread of the illness.

In most cases, seasonal influenza symptoms come about very suddenly. Most people will initially experience symptoms that are similar to the common cold, such as coughing, runny nose, and a sore throat. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms tend to get worse very quickly. Usually within one or two days after the onset of the initial symptoms, a person might begin to feel feverish, weak, and achy. The symptoms might persist for three or four days before gradually starting to improve.

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Getting to the doctor within the first few days that flu symptoms are experienced is crucial for successful treatment. For most people, the flu will go away with or without medication within roughly one week, but antiviral medicines are often helpful for easing the symptoms and shortening the duration of the illness. Antiviral drugs are typically most helpful when they are given within the first 48 hours that a person gets sick. If a doctor believes his patient has the flu, he will typically prescribe antiviral drugs no matter what stage the illness is in, but the first 48 hours are normally considered best. This is why getting to the doctor quickly is important for people who have the flu.

Most people who develop seasonal influenza recover, but it does occasionally take lives. The people who are most at risk of death and other serious complications from the flu are the very young and the very old. People with serious health problems that compromise their immune systems also typically have a higher risk of experiencing influenza complications. Even though seasonal influenza is quite common, it is considered serious. Most people can effectively protect themselves from developing the flu by getting their yearly flu shots in addition to being cautious about the spread of germs.

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