The medical world can be a confusing place. Patients and their families might feel overwhelmed by the large vocabularies and complicated explanations they get from their health care providers. Students entering health care also struggle to grasp the complexity of health sciences, and are forced to memorize huge amounts of information. We hope to make understanding the medical world a bit easier. Look around!
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regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any Khan Academy video.
Most people have had the flu virus at least once in their lives, and it’s usually not a pleasant experience… Fight back with some good information! Learn about typical flu symptoms (and how tell it apart from the cold), and how the flu virus invades your cells to cause disease. Finally, learn how flu vaccines may help prevent you from getting sick, and how we can test and treat the flu just in case you get really ill. Stay healthy, my friends!
Getting the flu is awful! You get respiratory symptoms (Example: stuffy nose, sore throat, or cough) and constitutional symptoms (Example: fevers, chills, or body aches), and you’re usually in bed for 3-7 days. The flu virus spreads from person to person through tiny little droplets and is really common during the winter. Learn how we’re getting smart about tracking the flu, and how you can avoid getting sick…
The flu is caused and spread by a virus called influenza, which has proteins on its outer coat (think of a person wearing a jacket) called Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase. The flu uses these proteins to enter and exit cells, and we actually name these proteins H and N (easy to remember) and number them to keep track of all the different types that we have found. The flu is a sneaky little bugger though, and can avoid our immune system by making subtle genetic mutations over time (drift) or shuffling up its genetic material completely (shift)!
Most of the time, we don’t test for the flu, but it can be useful. Rapid flu tests are done with a quick nose swab or wash, and can detect Type A or Type B Flu, but beware – like all tests, sometimes they make mistakes.
Want to avoid getting sick with the flu? If so, get a flu vaccine, it’s 60-70% effective! You have a couple of options: TIV (dead virus, injection) or LAIV (weak virus, spray). They can cause some side effects like a sore arm (TIV) or a runny nose (LAIV), but isn’t that better then lying in bed with a cough and fever for a week? Don’t worry though, if you do get really sick with the flu, we have some medications that can help.