There has been a lot of focus on swine flu, but itâ€™s important to remember that the run-of-the-mill seasonal flu can be a serious condition itself. â€œA lot of people just think of the flu as a very bad cold,â€ says Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the CDC in Atlanta. But itâ€™s much worse than that.
For one, you usually feel terrible. In addition to the congestion and cough, youâ€™re apt to have nasty body aches and fever, which are less likely with a garden-variety cold. â€œWhen you get the flu, you know it,â€ says Christine Hay, MD, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. â€œYou feel like youâ€™ve been hit by a Mack truck.â€
Aside from the short-term misery and lost workdays, flu can have more serious implications. Sure, most people who get the seasonal flu recover just fine. But the seasonal flu also hospitalizes 200,000 people in the U.S. each year. It kills between 3,000 and 49,000 people. Thatâ€™s close to the number of women killed by breast cancer each year, and more than twice the number of people killed by AIDS.