• Consumer Health: What is the flu?

a young man and woman sick with colds or the flu, with red noses and tissues in hand, sneezingWhat is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. It's not the same as stomach "flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. While colds usually develop slowly, the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu. Other common signs and symptoms of the flu include fever over 100.4 F (38 C), aching muscles, headache and fatigue. For most people, the flu resolves on its own. But, sometimes, the flu and its complications can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months or older. Learn more about the flu, and consider getting your flu shot, if you haven't already.


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