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If you fail to get the flu vaccine each year, there is a good chance that you will get the flu. If you are like most people, you have had the flu at least once in your life and you know how it makes you feel. What you may not know is what the flu actually does to your body to make you feel awful when you have it.
The First Few Hours
It is very easy to be exposed to the flu virus. Each time a sick person coughs, they expel 2,000 droplets filled with the virus. If you inhale these droplets, it will travel through your body into the cells in your airway. If you touch something that a sick person just touched and then you touch your nose or your eyes, the same thing can happen. A cold virus will attack your nose and your throat. The flu virus is more serious and it will travel into your lungs. As it attacks the airway tissue and the lungs, the virus makes a home for itself in your body. As soon as the virus enters your body, your immune system immediately starts fighting. For the next day or two, you will have no idea that you are sick. Inside, the virus is multiplying at a rapid rate and you become contagious. Since you aren’t even aware that you have the flu, you can go around for days infecting people without even knowing it.
By the fourth day, your immune system won’t be able to keep up with the flu and the symptoms will start to kick in. You could feel great when you wake up, but by lunchtime, you will start with the fever, chills, achy muscles, and the headache. Since your immune system is fighting so hard, you will lose all of your energy. As your lungs try to keep the dead cell debris from clogging your lungs, you will develop a dry, hacking cough. This is the beginning of the battle and it will only get worse.
Days 5 and 6
By now, the virus has taken over your whole body and your antibodies and T-Cells are working overtime to fight the virus. There is nothing that you can do but stay in bed. Most people who have the flu don’t have the energy to do anything. If the bacteria moves into your lungs and starts feeding on what is left of the dead cells, you are at great risk of developing pneumonia, which is the worst case scenario.
Days 7 Through 10
If you were lucky enough to avoid pneumonia, by day 7 your immune system should have caught up with the virus and it is finally taking it out. When the inflammation subsides, your symptoms will start to as well. Just because you are feeling better, it doesn’t mean that you are better, therefore, you are still contagious for another day or two. It is best to stay away from anyone who hasn’t had the flu vaccine for a couple more days. Even though your body is killing the virus, you won’t magically feel better. It can take another week to start feeling like your normal, healthy self again.
The flu virus is a very smart and powerful virus. It immediate attacks the cells in your airway which is the best route to your lungs. Since this is such an aggressive and debilitating virus, your best defense is to get a flu vaccine. If you come into contact with the flu virus, you will already have the antibodies necessary to fight it.