The Truth About the Flu

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The flu circulates year round, but there are tons of misconceptions about it. Here's the truth about the flu.

Are colds and flu the same thing? No. Although colds and flu are both respiratory illnesses, they're caused by different viruses. They have some of the same symptoms, like fatigue, headaches, cough, and sore throat. But colds are usually milder and don't lead to serious health problems like the flu sometimes does.

Is there more than one strain of the flu? Yes, there's two main types, A and B. These strains of flu cause seasonal flu epidemics every year. Can a flu vaccine give you the flu? No, flu shots are made one of two ways. They either have a virus that's been killed or a single gene from the virus. So flu shots can't cause the flu.

Can you get the flu even if you get a flu shot? Yes, a flu shot protects against certain strains of the virus. So there's a chance you could get sick from another strain. It's also possible for you to get infected before the vaccine kicks in. But you're more likely to have milder symptoms if you got this year's flu shot.

The bottom line, flu is a common virus. But you can protect yourself by washing your hands and getting a flu shot every year.