The Most Common Types of Flu and how to avoid them

Flu season is here and it has been a rough one. The flu can be caused by many different strains, but some are more severe than others. This blog post will tell you about the most common types of flu so that you know which ones to avoid!

Flu is a serious illness that can last for months. There are many types of flu, and each one has different symptoms. You should know which type you have so you can get better faster! The most common type of flu in America is influenza A, but there are also three other types: influenza B, influenza C (also called “swine” or “pig”), and avian (bird) influenza D (H5N1).

Most people get sick because they breathe it in from another person who has it or from an infected animal like birds or pigs. It’s hard to tell what kind of flu someone has by looking at them because some types cause fever while others may not show any symptoms at all until after a couple of days.

1. What is the flu?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. The term “flu” is also used informally for any cold- or fever-like illness with cough or sore throat caused by other viruses or bacteria.

Anytime you have symptoms of a cold along with problems breathing, contact your doctor immediately!

2. What are the most common types?

Influenza A – Influenza A causes epidemics every year in late winter and early spring. Influenza A usually occurs in cycles, with high activity every 3-5 years. Influenza A viruses constantly change (or “mutate”), so over time there are many different kinds of influenza A virus.

Several different types of influenza A viruses occur in an average season. They often mix and result in new strains that spread around the world.

In addition to seasonal epidemics, two or three times a century, influenza causes widespread disease and even death among people and animals throughout the globe.

The last time this happened was during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (swine flu) outbreak, although it is important to note that most people recover from viral illness without medical attention

Influenza B – Influenza B is less common than influenza A, but it also occurs all year round. Like influenza A, influenza B viruses also change over time, which is why there are different kinds of influenza B virus each year.

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Influenza C – Influenza C is less common than the other types of flu and primarily affects people who have weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses. Influenza C causes many different symptoms, including a wet cough, fevers and respiratory illness (such as pneumonia). Most people recover from this type of flu without medical attention within days to weeks.

Influenza D – An uncommon form of influenza in humans (but not among birds), human H5N1 infection appears to cause high rates of severe illness and death when transmitted from birds to humans close to large poultry farms. Better control of the flu in birds has reduced human disease from this type of influenza, although cases still occur in parts of Asia and Africa.

3. How does someone get the flu?

Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (or possibly up to 6 feet (2 meters) away).

People then breathe in these droplets and become infected. You can also get infected if you touch a surface with droplets on it, and then touch your mouth or nose.

Before starting to feel sick, some people may be able to pass on the infection to others up to a day before their symptoms start.

However, the most common way someone spreads flu to others is when they have the symptoms of flu and are contagious (having a fever plus some or all of the following: cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches).

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4. How long does it last?

Most people get better in about a week or 10 days, but sometimes it takes as long as 3 weeks for symptoms to go away.

People with influenza can pass the infection on to others beginning one day before getting sick through about 5 days after becoming sick.

It’s possible to be infectious for other people during this time period even if you feel healthy and don’t know you’re sick.

The average person infects about 1-10 close contacts, but some people may infect more. The younger the person and the longer they live with an infected person, the more likely they are to get sick from influenza.

5. What are the symptoms?

People have a variety of symptoms when they get flu, which can change over time. People usually feel something that is similar to a cold or other viral illness, such as:

·         a bad cough, sometimes with mucus (snot) or blood;

·          headaches;

·          chills/fever/aches;

·          fatigue/tiredness;

In children, it may be harder for parents to tell the difference between a cold and flu, as symptoms may be milder.

However, if your child has been infected with influenza they may still seem well or even not have any symptoms for a few days before becoming sick.

So it is possible to get sick when you are around someone who has flu, even if they don’t look sick.

6. Who does flu affect?

Anyone can get the flu, but people at increased risk for severe complications include:

·         Pregnant women;

·          Children younger than 18 months old;

·          People 65 years of age and older;

·          Adults/children with medical conditions like asthma, heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes;

·          Adults/children who are extremely overweight (obese);

·          Everyone else.

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7. How is flu treated?

People with the flu usually just need to rest, drink fluids and take a few drugs prescribed by a Doctor. It’s important to avoid aspirin because it can increase your risk of getting a serious complication called Reye syndrome if you have flu. If you develop a fever above 102°F (38°C), and very sick, or would like an alternative treatment please see your doctor early on in this process.

Antiviral medications may also be prescribed for those at high risk of flu complications. The CDC recommends that people who get the flu and their close contacts be treated with antiviral drugs if they are at high risk.

It’s important to remember that even if you or your child is treated for flu or has been treated in the past, you may become sick from flu again this season because there are many types (or “flavors”) of influenza viruses and they can be changing every year. Unfortunately, we don’t know right now which strains will circulate this season.


We hope you found this post helpful in learning about the most common types of flu and how to avoid them. If you are experiencing any symptoms, please see a doctor immediately.

In addition, we recommend that if you have young children or elders living with you at home, make sure they get their annual seasonal influenza vaccination as soon as possible.

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