The term "Flu" is used to describe a range of influenza viruses that cause contagious respiratory infections. The symptoms also include headache, muscle soreness and fever. There are actually 3 different types of flu viruses, A, B and C.
Types A and B are the most common and are the cause of the influenza epidemics that flare up at certain times. Flu vaccines are formulated to protect against both type A and B viruses and are your best defense against infection. So what are the major differences between types A, B, and C?
Influenza Type A
Type A influenza is the most common type of flu and can affect both humans and some animals. Type A influenza is responsible for the majority of seasonal flu outbreaks and the increased risk of being carried by animals makes it spread that much faster. The infamous "Bird Flu" and "Swine Flu" were both mutations of type A influenza.
Influenza Type B
Type B can only be carried and spread by humans. It is the second most common type of influenza virus and exhibits similar symptoms to Type A influenza, but is often less severe.
Influenza Type C
Type C influenza is the least common and also the least severe form of the flu virus. Symptoms are similar but very mild. Those who contract the Type C virus may notice they have a mild cold, but it generally passes without extreme discomfort.
The "Stomach Flu" is Not Really the Flu
Many people use the term flu or "stomach flu" to describe symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. In actuality this is not a type of influenza at all, it's technical name is gastroenteritis. While gastroenteritis is a miserable experience, it's actually less dangerous than the flu. Usually symptoms only last around 48 hours, compared to the flu which can last one to two weeks. The flu is a respiratory virus and only results in vomiting or diarrhea in very rare cases, usually in young children.
Don't share germs. It sounds obvious, but the simple act of avoiding contact with sick people and washing your hands regularly will cut down on your likelihood of contracting the flu virus. Those who are infected should take special care to limit their physical contact with others and avoid sharing any kind of food or drinks.
Boost your immune system. There are a variety of ways we can boost our immune system to help ward of infection. A body in good health is far less susceptible to illness.
Get your annual flu shot. The flu vaccine is formulated to protect against strains of Type A and Type B flu virus. While the vaccine does not guarantee you won't get the flu, it protects you from the most common strains for that flu season. This is especially important for the elderly, who are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu. In the winter of 2017-2018 an estimated 80,000 people died from the flu, or complications associated with it. This was the highest death toll in 40 years, but just goes to show you how serious a flu epidemic can be.
So get ahead of flu season by taking care of yourself, getting plenty of rest and don't forget to get your flue shot! Visit the Medical Specialty Center – Your Everyday Health Care Clinic – at Orchard Hospital. Walk-ins are welcome or you can make an appointment.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior health care. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.