What's the Difference Between Flu A and Flu B?

February 2, 2024

Did you know that the flu season lasts until May? Throughout this season, many people fall ill with the influenza virus, experiencing a range of uncomfortable symptoms. While the flu is often referred to as a single virus, it’s important to recognize that there are actually several different strains of the virus– with the most common being influenza A and influenza B. Understanding the differences between these two strains can help you make more informed decisions about prevention and treatment. In this blog, we’ll explore what sets flu A and flu B apart.

For same-day flu shots and flu treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care West Orange. Our urgent care center is open seven days a week and appointments are not required– just stop by at your convenience!

Influenza A vs. Influenza B

Influenza A and influenza B are two distinct strains of the influenza virus, each with its own subtypes and variations. Influenza A viruses have a broader host range compared to influenza B viruses, affecting both humans, birds, and some mammals. Influenza B viruses primarily circulate among humans and do not pose the same pandemic risk as influenza A. Both types of influenza viruses can cause similar symptoms, including cough, fever, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and respiratory congestion. The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the affected individual’s overall health, age, and immune status. While both strains can lead to complications, like pneumonia and bronchitis, influenza A viruses are generally associated with more severe illness and higher rates of hospitalization.

Influenza A and influenza B viruses exhibit different seasonal patterns of activity. Influenza A viruses typically cause seasonal outbreaks of flu that peak during winter months. In contrast, influenza B viruses tend to cause less predictable patterns of activity, with peaks occurring later in the flu season and extending into the spring.

Influenza Vaccine Coverage

Each year, influenza vaccines are formulated to provide protection against specific strains of both influenza A and influenza B viruses that are expected to circulate during the upcoming flu season. The composition of the flu shot may vary from year to year based on surveillance data and medical predictions about which strains are most likely to predominate. Vaccination from the flu is recommended for everyone aged six months and older. Flu shots remain to be the most effective way to prevent flu-related illness and potential complications.

When To Seek Medical Care For Flu Symptoms

Knowing when to seek medical attention for flu-like symptoms is crucial for managing the illness effectively and preventing potential complications. While many cases of the flu can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications, certain symptoms and circumstances warrant medical intervention. Here’s a guide to help you determine when it’s time to consult a healthcare professional for flu symptoms:

  • Severe symptoms, like chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness or severe fatigue
  • High fever over 102°F
  • Worsening symptoms
  • High risk individuals including elderly, young children, individuals with weakened immune systems, or individuals with underlying medical conditions
  • Symptoms that persist for more than a week or two
  • Pre-existing medical conditions that could be exacerbated by the flu

Get Same-Day Flu Treatment at AFC Urgent Care West Orange

Understanding the differences between influenza A and influenza B can help individuals make informed decisions about vaccination, prevention, and when to seek medical care. By staying informed and taking proactive steps to protect against the flu, you can support your health and the health of those around you. Are you dealing with flu-like symptoms? Come visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care West Orange for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. We provide urgent care seven days a week with no appointment required– just walk-in! If you have any additional questions about flu treatment, or other services we provide, contact us directly at (973) 669-5900.

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