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Learn About the Flu


Updated May 05, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Learn About the Flu

Learn what you need to know about the flu.

Photo © George Doyle/Getty

The flu, or influenza, is a serious virus that makes millions of people sick every year. When combined with pneumonia (which is often a complication of the flu), it is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. It's not just a bad cold and it's not that awful stomach virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea for a few days and then disappears. The flu is a respiratory illness that comes on suddenly and knocks you down. So what do you need to know about this all too common virus?

Flu Basics

What is the Flu?

Find out what the flu means for you, including how the influenza virus works and what you need to do if you get it.

Types of Flu

Did you know there is more than one type of flu? Learn about the different types of flu and how they can affect you.

Groups at High Risk for Flu Complications

Although the flu can affect anyone, it is more likely to be serious for certain groups of people. Are you at high risk for complications from the flu?

When You Get the Flu

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms are not the same for everyone. Learn about the most common flu symptoms.

How Long Does the Flu Last?

When flu symptoms hit, the first thing you want to know is when they will end. Find out how long flu symptoms typically last.

Seasonal Flu or Stomach Flu?

Seasonal flu and stomach flu are often confused, but they actually have very little in common. Learn about the differences between the two. (Hint: this is the one that causes vomiting and diarrhea)

Complete Guide to H1N1 (Swine Flu)

In 2009, the world saw its first flu pandemic in nearly four decades. Find out everything you need to know about this global outbreak of the flu and how it happened.

What You Need to Prepare for Flu Season

Your Flu Season Tool Kit

Get ready for flu season with this tool kit. It has everything you need to know about the flu and how to protect yourself and your family.

Flu Shots 101

All the basics about the flu vaccine -- who needs it, how it works and common side effects.

How Flu Shots Work

If you are concerned or have questions about the flu vaccine, you will want to read this. Find out how flu shots work and what they do to protect you from influenza.

How to Find a Flu Shot Near You

Flu shots are available at many locations, not just your doctor's office. If you don't have time to go to the doctor, you can still get a flu vaccine. See where you can go to get a flu vaccine.

Track the Flu in Your State

The flu spreads at different rates in different areas. Track flu activity in your state to determine what your risk might be.

All of Your Flu Shot Questions Answered

Many people have concerns and questions about the flu vaccine. With all of the controversy surrounding this vaccine, you need a place to find reliable answers. Get the answers to many common questions about the flu vaccine here.

Flu Vaccination Campaigns

The Faces of Influenza campaign is an effort by the American Lung Association to educate the public about the dangers of the flu. Read interviews with three of their spokespeople about this important campaign.

Treating the Flu

Your Flu Treatment Options

Get ideas for how to treat your flu symptoms if you do get it. From antivirals to at home treatments, we have all the tips you need.

Antiviral Medications

While there are multiple antiviral medications on the market, only two are recommended for treating the flu in the United States. Find out more about these medications and when you might need to take them.

Common Flu Complications

Sometimes the flu doesn't go away when it should, and develops into something more serious.

How to Find a Health Care Provider

If you get the flu, you may need to find a health care provider in a hurry. Get some tips on how to find a health care provider when you need one.

When to Take Your Child to the Pediatrician

It can be difficult to decide if your child needs to go to the doctor or not. Get some clear guidance from a prominent pediatrician about when you should take your child to the doctor.

How the Flu Has Affected You

What Were Your Flu Symptoms?

Have you had the flu? Share your experience with the flu. What were your symptoms and how did it affect you?

How Long Did Your Flu Last?

The flu can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days for most people. How long did it last for you?

How Do You Keep Your Kids Entertained When They're Sick?

When kids are sick, they don't necessarily feel like laying in bed and napping all day. What do you do to keep your children entertained when they aren't feeling well?

As you can see, there is a lot of information you need to know about the flu. Make sure you take steps to prevent it. If you do get the flu, you have all the information you need right here to get through it.

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