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What is Influenza

What is Influenza? Symptoms, Types and Conditions

What Is Influenza (Flu)?


The influenza virus, commonly known as the flu, happens to be a seasonal illness that is capable of causing a wide range of uncomfortable influenza symptoms-from feeling exhausted and going through a fever, to leaving people feeling wretched for a lengthy period of time. While the influenza virus seems quite similar to the common cold, it induces much worse symptoms and should be diagnosed by a medical professional.

What Are The Types Of Influenza Viruses?

Influenza viruses are categorized into 3 main categories, i.e., influenza A, B, and C:

  • Influenza Type A: This can dangerously spread even from animals to humans, and has a reputation for causing full-fledged pandemics.
  • Influenza Type B: This type of influenza is also very contagious and can have dangerous health effects – However, this “Type B” can only be spread from one human to another.
  • Influenza Type C: This one is the mildest one of the 3 types of influenza, and symptoms are not as damaging as compared to the other types.

Being able to recover from influenza requires a minimum of 7-8 days. However, it can be a couple of additional days before you feel completely healthy again.

What Are The Symptoms Of Influenza?

Initially, influenza might be confused with the common cold, based on symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. However, the cold generally develops in a gradual manner, while the influenza virus is known to affect people all of a sudden with all its symptoms.

Here’s a list of the most commonly experienced influenza symptoms:

  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Constant dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Aching muscles
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Eye pain
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat

When To See A Doctor If You Are Infected By Influenza?

The majority of the people affected by the flu try their best to treat themselves at home using home remedies, making the wrong decision to avoid professional help.

It is highly advised that anyone who might be suffering from the flu and is also at risk of complications gets in touch with their physician immediately, or call us at Manhattan Medical Arts.

Consuming an appropriate antiviral influenza medication can help you shorten the time period of your illness while also protecting you from further serious problems.

In cases where you might need to seek emergency care, the emergency symptoms may include:

– For Adults:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions
  • Dizziness
  • Severe weakness or muscle pain
  • Chest pain

– For Children:

  • Dehydration
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds
  • Chest pain
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions

How Do People Get Infected By Influenza?

Being a highly contagious entity, the influenza virus can spread directly as well as indirectly, by coming in contact with someone who is already infected.

Here are a few common ways through which you can get influenza:

  • By someone sneezing or coughing in a proximity range.
  • By coming in contact with a surface that has been previously infected by the influenza virus, and then touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • By physically contacting someone who is infected by the influenza virus and then touching your face.

What Highest Risk Factors For Getting Infected By Influenza?

People who get infected by the influenza virus, and also have certain underlying health conditions, are at the highest risk of experiencing severe symptoms of influenza; which might also lead to deadly complications and consequent hospitalization.

You should be concerned in this regard, if:

  • You are obese and your BMI is greater than 40.
  • You are going through pregnancy.
  • Your immune system is compromised due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, or immunosuppressive medications.
  • You have some blood disorder.
  • You have asthma, COPD, or any other chronic lung disease.
  • You have a condition that causes issues with muscle function or makes it difficult to cough, swallow, or clear fluids from your airways.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a history of kidney, liver, neurological, heart, or blood vessel disease.

What Is The Influenza Vaccine?

Influenza vaccines, which are also referred to as “flu shots,” are very effective vaccines that offer us protection against the four types of influenza viruses. The majority of influenza vaccines are administered with a needle, mostly in the arm- Nonetheless, nasal sprays are also available as influenza medication.

How Many Types Of Influenza Vaccines Are Available In The Market?

There is a wide range of manufacturers that are manufacturing several influenza vaccines, both of which are licensed as well as recommended to be used in the United States.

The influenza vaccines available in the market are inclusive of:

  • Standard-dose flu shots, including Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, and Fluzone Quadrivalent.
  • A cell-based flu shot (Flucelvax Quadrivalent)
  • A recombinant flu shot (Flublok Quadrivalent)
  • An egg-based high-dose flu shot (Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent)
  • An egg-based adjuvanted flu shot (Fluad Quadrivalent)
  • An egg-based live attenuated flu nasal spray vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent)

What Complications Can You Face With Influenza?

The complications that people have struggled with, due to bad cases of influenza viruses include:

  • Viral or bacterial pneumonia
  • Dehydration
  • Ear infections
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Muscle inflammation (myositis)
  • Disturbed central nervous system
  • Heart problems
  • Inflammation of the organ (myocarditis)
  • Inflammation of the sac around it (pericarditis)

How To Get Prevention From Influenza?

Getting influenza vaccine shots on a yearly or seasonal basis is the best form of prevention against the influenza virus. These influenza vaccines enable your immune system to not only identify but also fight against these viruses before they make you sick. It is recommended to get a yearly updated influenza vaccine shot, as the influenza viruses continue to mutate, change, and become stronger.

Here are a few preventive ways other than influenza vaccines:

  • Wash your hands using soap, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your face, and cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue rather than your bare hands.
  • Refrain from social interaction if you or anyone in your surroundings is infected.
  • Use a mask in case of an unavoidable social interaction.

How Long Does Influenza Last?


Being infected by the influenza virus is like going through a very uncomfortable but short-term illness that your immune system will eventually be able to fight off.

Once you get infected, it takes about 2-4 days for the influenza symptoms to set in, lasting for at least 5-7 days. If you are not getting well, then get influenza treatment from the nearest primary care physicians near you.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Read this to learn more about influenza: Everything You Need To Know About The Flu Virus | Why Should You Get A Flu Shot | Influenza Flu Vaccine | Why You Need A Flu Shot This Year | What Is Influenza

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 10/24/2022

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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