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  Malaysian Society of Allergy & Immunology (MSAI)
 
  Allergy, Cold or Flu:  

  Flu

A single family of viruses, the influenza viruses causes the flu. Most people get the flu once every year or two or three, and the illness is unpleasant but not usually dangerous. Unlike the common cold, both adults and children with the flu generally have a fever.

The flu can take many forms, but the most typical:

The flu begins abruptly, with a fever in the 102 to 106 degree range (with adults on the lower end of the spectrum), a flushed face, body aches, and marked lack of energy. Some people have other systemic symptoms such as dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last five days.

Somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase. The virus can settle anywhere in the respiratory tract, producing symptoms of a cold, croup, sore throat, bronchiolitis, ear infection, and/or pneumonia.

The most prominent of the respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore (red) throat and a headache. Nasal discharge and sneezing are not uncommon.

These symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. Sometimes there is a second wave of fever at this time. The cough and tiredness usually lasts for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.

Inhaling droplets from coughs or sneezes is the most common way to catch the flu. Symptoms appear 1 to 7 days later (usually 2-3 days).

The flu is airborne and quite contagious, and with its short incubation period it often slams into a community all at once, creating a noticeable cluster of school and work absences.

The flu usually arrives in the winter months. Within 2 or 3 weeks of its arrival, most of the classroom has had it.  
 


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