Dr. Patel
Influenza is commonly called the flu. It's a highly contagious, viral respiratory illness that can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Captain Darin, can you tell us more about the flu?

Captain Darin
Certainly, Dr. Patel. The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Seasonal flu epidemics affect millions of people in the United States, both children and adults, every year. Experts recommend that all children six months of age and older receive a vaccination, or flu shot, every year.

It's important to note that many people misuse the term "flu" to describe a digestive illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea and only lasts for a day or two. This condition is actually called gastroenteritis, and it's not caused by the same virus that causes the flu.

While it's not unusual for young children with influenza to have digestive symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, the flu is primarily a respiratory condition that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It generally takes healthy children a week or two to get over the flu.