Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 35 to 50 million Americans come down with the flu during each flu season, which typically lasts from November to March. Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick with the flu, and children frequently spread the virus to others. Although most people recover from the illness, CDC estimates that in the United States more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.
When and Where Do People Usually Get the Flu?
How is the Flu Transmitted?
Are There Different Types of Flu Viruses?
Type A is the most common and usually causes the most serious epidemics. Type B outbreaks also can cause epidemics, but the disease it produces generally is milder than that caused by type A. Type C viruses, on the other hand, never have been connected with a large epidemic.
What are Possible Complications from the Flu?
Symptoms of complications will usually appear after you start feeling better. After a brief period of improvement, you may suddenly get:
Pneumonia can be a very serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately so that you can get the appropriate treatment.
Are There Other Flu Complications that Only Affect Children?
The syndrome often begins in young people after they take aspirin to get rid of fever or pain. Although very few children develop Reye's syndrome, you should consult a doctor before giving aspirin or products that contain aspirin to children. Acetaminophen does not seem to be associated with Reye's syndrome.
Newborn babies recently out of intensive care units are particularly vulnerable to suffering from flu complications.
Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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