Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, including your nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. Although it’s commonly called the flu, influenza is not the same as the stomach viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Anyone can get the flu, but young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable. If you’re at high risk of flu, your first line of defense is an annual flu shot. Although the shot doesn’t offer 100 percent protection, it can reduce your chance of infection and help prevent serious complications if you do get sick.

Approximately 50 million people died worldwide in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 36,000 Americans die each year of complications of influenza and more than 200,000 are hospitalized.

Symptoms

The flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever over 101 F in adults, and often as high as 103 to 105 F in children
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry cough
  • Muscular aches and pains, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea and vomiting in children

Causes

Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object, such as a telephone or computer keyboard, and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.

The flu is caused by three types (strains) of viruses — influenza A, B and C. Type A is responsible for the deadly influenza pandemics (worldwide epidemics) that strike every 10 to 40 years. Type B can lead to smaller, more localized outbreaks. And either types A or B can cause the flu that circulates almost every winter. Type C has never been connected with a large epidemic.

Type C is a fairly stable virus, but types A and B are constantly changing, with new strains appearing regularly. Once you’ve had the flu, you develop antibodies to the virus that caused it, but those antibodies won’t protect you from new strains. That’s why doctors recommend getting a flu shot every year.

Integrative Medicine Treatment Options

We combine the best of conventional medicine with the best of complementary and alternative therapies to give you optimal results.

Here are some options we use at Alliance Integrative Medicine LOCATED IN Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Acupuncture
  • Medication, Herbal Therapies and Supplements
  • Energy Healing

Our flu patients come to us from Mason, Indian Hill, Hyde Park, Loveland and Westchester/Liberty Township as well as Blue Ash, Finneytown, Reading, Springdale, Terrace Park and from all over the U.S.