Flu Symptoms 2013: What Happens When You Get Sick With Influenza?

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Have you gotten the flu yet this year? Photo by: National Cancer Institute

Have you gotten the flu yet this year? Photo by: National Cancer Institute

Flu Recovery: What to Expect

Most people with influenza recover within three to seven days; however, cough and fatigue may continue for two weeks or more. Sometimes influenza can lead to pneumonia and make underlying conditions such as pulmonary or cardiac diseases worse.

So you maybe wondering what your immune system has been up to all this time. Isn’t it supposed to protect you from getting sick? Let’s take a look at what happens when the immune system is under attack.

Influenza Virus: Immune System Under Attack

Your immune system is made up of cells, tissue, and organs that all work together to protect you from getting sick.

Generally, when a virus enters the body, there are multiple steps that the body uses to destroy the virus. But, like us, our immune systems aren’t perfect, and sometimes a virus gets the upper hand briefly.

How does it happen? Viruses can enter our bodies when we touch our eyes, nose, or mouth. Once inside, the virus tricks the immune system and decreases the production of proteins needed in the immune system to fight off illnesses. The virus then attaches to our body’s cells and moves in.

Once inside the cell, the virus is able to replicate some of its genetic makeup and transfer it to the cell. This causes the cell to begin following directions given by the virus, and not the cell. These damaged cells replicate and cause symptoms. For a cool demonstration of how influenza viruses attacks the immune system, check out NPR’s video, Flu Attack: How a Virus Invades Your Body.

Flu Attack: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Tamiflu

So now you know where you can come into contact with germs, how the flu virus tricks and invades your immune system, and what typical flu symptoms are. The best part about knowing all of this information? It gives you ways to avoid getting sick. So after extending that handshake, use hand sanitizer. Before eating, wash your hands! Don’t forget to wash your hands after blowing your nose and using the restroom either. This year’s flu epidemic is nothing to joke about, so keep an eye out for the symptoms of the flu and prevent illness whenever possible.

Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Influenza. July 1, 2009. Accessed January 29, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Flu Germs: How long can live outside the body? February 8, 2012. Accessed January 29, 2013.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Mounting an Immune Response. August 5, 2011. Accessed January 29, 2013.

Virtual Medical Center. Influenza. Accessed January 29, 2013.

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