Medical terms linked to the flu don't have to be confusing. Here are brief definitions for things you may hear your doctor or friends say.
Antibacterial. It can kill bacteria or slow their growth.
Antibiotic resistance. When bacteria get used to an antibiotic and no longer respond to it. This happens because doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics to people who don’t need them.
Antiviral agents. Medicines that treat viral infections. Antivirals like oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza) can be used to treat the flu or to help prevent it in people at high risk. As a treatment, they work best if you get them within the first 2 days after your symptoms start.
Bacteria. Microscopic one-celled organisms. Some of them cause illness.
Germs. Any microbes, including viruses or bacteria.
Immune system. The group of organs and special cells in your body that protect you from disease.
Immunity. Protection from disease.
Immunization. A way to make you immune to a disease, specifically by taking a vaccine.
Microbe. A microscopic organism.
Reye's syndrome. A life-threatening brain and liver disease that can follow infection with a virus, like the flu. It’s most common in children. It’s often linked with taking meds that contain aspirin.
"Stomach flu." The common name for tummy troubles caused by any number of different microbes. It has no relation to flu.
Vaccine. A substance that helps protect against certain diseases. Vaccines contain a dead or weakened version of a microbe. It helps your immune system recognize and destroy the living microbe during a future infection.
Virus. A microscopic organism that invades living cells to reproduce. Many, like influenza, cause illness. Antibiotics don’t affect a virus.