The Life Cycle of the Flu
Flu season in the US is typically the worst in January and February; however, the virus can start to appear as early as October. While we wouldn’t wish the misery of the symptoms on anyone, if you are one of the unlucky ones to fall victim to sneezing, sore throat, and fever, there are some things you should know about what’s happening inside your body. Gregory A. Poland, MD, a professor of medicine and expert in vaccines at the Mayo Clinic, and John J. Treanor, MD, chief of infectious disease at the University of Rochester Medical Center to find out what exactly happens in your body when you have the flu.
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A word on contagiousness: You are contagious so long as you are experiencing symptoms. Fever is also a good indicator that you’re still contagious. However, Treanor notes, you are more contagious at the beginning of your illness than at the end. In addition, children may be sicker for longer and are more contagious than adults because they haven’t built up antibodies to the virus.
Treanor adds that the life of a cold can seem similar, but that the onset of cold symptoms is often slower than those of the flu. In addition, cold symptoms are different from flu symptoms. Unlike colds, which have no cure and can’t be definitively prevented, the flu can be prevented with a flu vaccine.