What is Flu

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


Is your throat sore? Do you have a fever? Have you been coughing? If so, it’s possible that you have got an infection. It can cause by either by a bacteria or a virus. We know that it can be really frustrating to not know what’s wrong with you!

The most common causes of these infections are viruses, but they can also be caused by bacteria. Viruses cause colds and flu-like illnesses; bacteria cause coughs and sore throats. Sometimes the symptoms of one type of infection can look like those of another type. For example, if someone has a cough but doesn’t have a fever, they might still have an infection caused by a virus.

This happens because viruses don’t always cause noticeable symptoms like fever or fatigue.So what is an infection? Infection is basically introducing microorganisms into the body. I’ll be talking about the flu. Is it viral or a bacterial infection?

Viral infections include common colds, flu, herpes, and even chicken pox. Bacterial infections are more serious. They include things like strep throat or pneumonia.

If you have these viruses or bacteria in your body, it’s important to know how to treat them so that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Is Flu Viral or Bacterial?

Flu is viral, and it’s caused by a strain of the influenza virus. Flu is different from other viruses in that it causes full-body soreness, not just a runny nose and cough. It also tends to spread more quickly than bacterial infections do.

Flu is caused by one or more strains of the influenza virus. Each year, there are two types one that affects children and one that affects adults as Influenza A and Influenza B. Influenza A is most common in the winter and spring months, while Influenza B generally affects people in August and September.

However, there’s some overlap between these strains and they can both cause illness. The flu virus is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, or by touching objects that have been contaminated with droplets from an infected person.

It can also be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids such as saliva or mucus. Once you’ve been exposed to the virus, it takes several days for symptoms to develop during the incubation period, which is why it’s so important to get vaccinated early!

Who is at Risk?

The most common viral infection is the flu. You can get the flu from close contact with someone who has it or by touching an object that’s contaminated with the virus.

The flu is not a dangerous illness in itself, but it can lead to serious complications like pneumonia or heart disease if you aren’t treated early on.

The people who are at risk of getting the flu are as follows:

  • People at extremes of age (children less than 5 years and elderly more than 65 years)
  • Immunecompromised  or people with chronic illnesses
  • Pregnancy
  • Obese (BMI >40 kg m-2)

Symptoms of Flu

If you’re feeling a little under the weather, it’s probably because you have the flu. But don’t worry—flu symptoms are manageable, and it’s not as bad as it seems.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Chills and fever (38 Celsius and more)
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches and pains
  • Muscle pain

Flu symptoms can vary from person to person. Children may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains as symptoms. The viral flu will have an incubation of the first 2 days followed by 1 week of symptoms.

How to Differentiate Viral Infections from Bacterial Infections?

Viral infections are a major health risk. They can be serious and life-threatening, and they’re easy to get. They’re not just unpleasant and uncomfortable; they can have real ill-health effects, too.

  • Viruses can be distinguished from bacteria in the same way you would differentiate them from each other—by their symptoms.
  • If you have a viral infection, you’ll probably experience symptoms like fever, body aches, and headache.
  • If you have a bacterial infection, you may notice symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, cough, and high fever with chills and rigors.
  • The difference between viral and bacterial infections comes down to the type of bacteria causing your illness.
  • Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria that live in your digestive system or skin; viral infections are caused by viruses that live outside the body.

How to Differentiate Flu from Common Cold?

The flu and the common cold are two different illnesses. Both are caused by viruses, but there are some key differences between them.

  • Common colds are caused by cold viruses, such as Rhinovirus, enterovirus, parainfluenza viruses, etc. The flu is caused by a type of virus called an Influenza virus either type A or B.
  • The symptoms of the flu usually begin about 1 day after you catch it. The first symptom is usually a fever, followed by chills, headache, muscle aches and pains, sore throat, and runny nose. In the common cold, the symptoms may begin the1-2 days with a sore throat followed by a runny nose. Fever is not a common symptom.
  • The severity of symptoms are higher in the flu than in the common cold.
  • The duration of the illness is higher in flu (14 days) than in a simple common cold (7- 10 days).

Treatment of Flu

Flu can be deadly. About 30,000 people die in the United States every year from influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The flu is also a major cause of pneumonia and other respiratory infections. The best way to treat the flu is with home remedies and medications.

Home Remedies

  • The first thing you should do is get plenty of rest and fluids. Fluids help keep your body’s temperature stable and also help flush out viruses.
  • You should also avoid close contact with others, especially if you have a fever.
  • Get lots of rest. It’s important to get enough sleep when you’re sick—and your body needs time to replenish itself between bouts of illness. If possible, try to sleep in a dark room, with the lights off and shades drawn.
  • If you end up going out at all, try to avoid crowds and other people when possible (and if you do go out, try not to handle any food or drink).
  • Avoid touching your eyes or nose while you’re sick. This helps prevent spreading germs from one person to another especially helpful if you have an open cut or wound on your face!

Medications for Flu

If you need to take medication, it’s important to take it as soon as possible after symptoms appear. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner it will work and the less likely you are to develop a serious illness.

There are several medications that can help treat the flu:

  • Tamiflu (an antiviral drug)
  • Relenza (an inhalant for treating influenza)
  • Prezista (a nasal spray for treating influenza)

Other Remedies

  • Essential oils can reduce nasal congestion. Nasal decongestants like vapor rub too can help with nasal congestion.
  • Throat lozenges will ease throat pain.
  • Hot compressions will heal achy joints and muscles.
  • Zinc lozenges can reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu illnesses when taken during the first 48 hours.
  • Vitamin C an antioxidant will boost immune functions.

Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older who does not have a health condition that would interfere with getting the vaccine (like pregnant women).

It is the most convenient way to prevent getting viral flu.

There are many different types of vaccines available: trivalent (protects against three types of viruses), quadrivalent (protects against four types of viruses), or pentavalent (protects against five types of viruses).

Getting a Flu vaccine during the flu season will help to reduce the severity of the illness.

When to See the doctor

  • You should see your doctor if you have flu-like symptoms for more than two weeks. The flu can be deadly and usually requires medical attention.
  • If you’re sick, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medical conditions that you have. This is especially important if you have diabetes or another chronic illness.
  • If you are having features of pneumonia you might have to visit a doctor to Submit chest x-ray.

Features of pneumonia are,

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Cough with yellow sputum
  • High fever of more than 104 F

If you are having features of meningitis, the doctor will order a CT brain and lumbar puncture test.

Features of meningitis are,

  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache
  • Light sensitivity
  • Confusion

You can visit the doctor to get to know about flu vaccines and their information too.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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