The Be Well Podcast: Facts You Should Know For Flu Season - Jaya DeElena, ARNP
Jaya DeElena, ARNP: Flu season within the United States can span from October until late into spring or around April or May. However, the peak seasons for influenza tend to be between December and March, which is why we think about flu more often than not during the winter season.
Joey Wahler (Host): And how is flu different than the common cold?
Jaya DeElena, ARNP: The influenza virus belongs to a specific viral family called the Orthomyxoviridae family, and all influenza viruses belong to this family. And there are three types of flu. There's type A, type B, and type C. So, we see type A infecting humans and other mammals and warm-blooded species. And we also see type A in birds. And type B and C have only been isolated in humans. And we see these three types of strains differentiate or mutate or change over the flu season. So, this is different than the other colds and viruses that we see that cause colds. There are other viral families that cause us problems during cold and flu season, including the Coronaviridae family that causes coronaviruses. The COVID-19 virus belongs to this virus family. There's also rhinoviruses that belong to another viral family called Picornaviridae family. And corona and rhinoviruses are responsible for our common colds. And all of these viral families produce viruses that are capable of invading our cells in our body.
Joey Wahler (Host): So, people may think they know them, but what are the main symptoms of flu?
Jaya DeElena, ARNP: Typical flu symptoms tend to have a sudden onset versus gradual. And a lot of people describe feeling like they got hit by a bus or a truck. We see symptoms including high fever, chills, which can literally become shaking chills, headaches, body aches, fatigue or feeling very tired, dry cough, sore throat, runny, clogged nose. However, painful muscle aches, headaches and high fevers set this apart from the common colds, we also see during this timeframe. And there's a specific kind of flu influenza virus people have heard of called the avian or bird flus, also known as H5N1. And that tends to be like the typical flu symptoms, but can also include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, lower respiratory tract symptoms like shortness of breath, a cough that is productive of mucus or sputum. And unlike our regular flu infections, we see the H5N1 influenza infection tends to lead to pneumonia, which we can see on chest x-rays. And oftentimes, patients are hospitalized with this particular flu, as we do see more acute respiratory distress, including low oxygen levels.
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