Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something I Recently Learned About: FLU

Flu, or more properly, influenza, is an upper respiratory disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include chills and fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and general discomfort.

What we commonly call stomach flu, is not flu at all. It's properly called gastroenteritis and can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or tainted food. Some of the symptoms overlap with the symptoms of real flu: chills and fever, headache, general discomfort. But the distinctive symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.

There's no magic cure for either condition: drink plenty of water, rest, take ibuprofin or aceteminaphen to reduce fever and pain. Each disease will usually run its course. You may feel wretched for a day or so and weak and tired after the acute symptoms have abated. But except in the rare case of complications, you'll eventually recover as I have, after a recent bout of gastroenteritis.

Remember, if it's all in your head and chest, it's flu. If it's in your stomach and intestinal tract, it's gastroenteritis.


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