What is the flu?
Flu is a short name for influenza, a virus that’s both highly contagious and highly uncomfortable.
Symptoms typically include a sore throat, cough, runny nose, and headaches. In these ways, a flu can be similar to a cold. However, a flu is also characterised by a fever, body aches, chills, and even an upset stomach. These additional symptoms can be quite debilitating and leave you stuck in bed for a few days with little energy to get up, unlike a cold where you can still function (albeit stuffily).
Flu symptoms will be at their worst for roughly five days, but the cough can linger for two to three weeks. Due to the increased severity of a flu, it can be dangerous for higher risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart problems.
Unfortunately, influenza cannot be ‘cured’ – you simply have to wait for your body to fight off the infection. You can do this with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications and pain relief. You should also try to isolate yourself from others, especially if they are high risk, to avoid passing the infection along.