Influenza or the flu is a contagious viral infection common enough that most people will contract the infection multiple times throughout their lives. The flu typically lasts 5 to 7 days, although lingering fatigue may last several weeks. Sometimes the flu requires medical attention, and in some cases can lead to serious complications such as viral pneumonia and sinus infections.
Most flu cases begin with a fever that can last four or five days before breaking. A fever is the body's natural defense against the flu. Although a low-grade fever may occur in the case of colds, high temperatures are characteristic of influenza, reaching 102 degrees or higher. It can be hard to tell the difference between a common cold and influenza in children because their body temperatures are higher on average than adults, both when healthy and ill.
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