Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness triggered by a virus. It is highly communicable and is usually spread by coughs and sneezes by those affected from the virus.

Woman with flu


Often people confuse flu with a bad cold. Symptoms of both flu and cold include a runny nose, sore throat and cough. People with flu may generally feel these following signs and symptoms that starts abruptly, not slowly.

✓        High temperature

✓        Cold sweats and chills

✓        Cough, runny nose and sore throat

✓        Headache

✓        Aching joints and limbs

✓        Fatigue, feeling lethargic

✓        Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and loose stools are more common among children than adults.

Usually, symptoms last for about 1 week. However, even after that, the feeling of tiredness and gloominess can continue for few weeks.    

It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Types of influenza virus.

There are several types of influenza virus (namely A, B, and C) and subtypes of the influenza virus. In India, seasonal influenza and avian influenza (in wild birds, poultry) have been widely reported by WHO


In most of the cases, flu is not serious, but for few people there can be severe complications. The risk of severe flu complication is higher for a person:

  • Adults over 65 years
  • Infants or children
  • Pregnant women
  • The person with the cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and diabetes
  • Those with asthma or bronchitis
  • A person undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Those with long-lasting diseases that lower immune function


Since flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot help, except the flu has led to another illness caused by bacteria. Antivirals may be prescribed in some conditions.

Painkillers can ease few of the symptoms, such as a headache and body pains.


Health care providers and government agencies recommend that the single best way to protect oneself from flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Remember Individuals with flu should:

✓        Stay at home

✓        Avoid contact with people where possible

✓        Take adequate rest and keep warm

✓        Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Discard the tissue in the trash after you use it.

✓        Wash your hands with soap and water.

✓        Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

✓        Clean and disinfect the surface and objects that may be contaminated with the germs.

✓        Stay well hydrated