How Does the Flu Start?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu virus is primarily spread by tiny droplets formed when infected people talk, cough or sneeze. These droplets are either inhaled by others or land in the mouths or noses of nearby people up to 6 feet away. People can also contract the flu by touching an object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their mouths or noses.

According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptom of the flu include nasal congestion, dry cough, headache, chills, sweats, fatigue, muscle weakness or aching and fever over 100 degrees. Unlike the common cold, which typically develops slowly, the flu usually comes on very suddenly and with much more severe symptoms.

For more serious symptoms, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises people to seek medical attention. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, blue or purple lip discoloration, chest or abdomen pain or pressure, severe or prolonged vomiting and seizure.

There are several types of flu shots available to help prevent the spread of the virus, according to WebMD. The traditional flu-shot contains inactive particles of the flu virus that trigger a natural immune response in the body. The egg-free flu shot contains the same particles as the traditional shot, but is not grown inside eggs, making it ideal for those with allergies or sensitivities to eggs. The high-dose flu shot is recommended for people aged 65 and older. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is a shot-free option.