Seasonal FLU (Influenza) is an acute viral illness that is highly contagious (can spread from person to person). It is commonly called flu. In tropical countries, it can occur in any season but in temperate countries, it occurs in winter.
Influenza is an infectious disease caused by influenza virus. It attacks on respiratory system, nose, throat and lungs.
For most people, it goes on its own but sometimes the Flu and its complications are deadly. In a certain group of people, it may become a serious health problem which if left untreated can lead to serious consequences (deadly sometimes). People who are at risk of developing Influenza complications are:
- Children less than 5 years of age especially those who are younger than 12 months of age.
- Premature or low birth weight infants are more prone to Flu complications.
- Elderly above 65 years of age
- Pregnant women and females up to two weeks postpartum
- People with chronic conditions like Asthma, Chronic kidney disease, Liver disease, Neurological or Neurodevelopmental Disease, Diabetes, or having Heart disease (Cardiovascular problems)
- Those who have weakened immune system because of cancer treatments, Organ transplant, HIV (AIDS), Use of anti-rejection drugs OR Long term use of steroid medication.
- Those who are living or working in facilities with many other residents such as nursing homes, military barracks, boarding houses, hostels.
- If symptoms do not resolve or not improved in two weeks.
- Obese people have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more than 40.
Despite modern civilization and technology influenza flu still spread at times in epidemics. The flu and related complications claimed an estimated 80,000 lives during the 2017-2018 seasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between 2010 and 2014, the death toll reached anywhere from 12000 to 56,000 a year.
Influenza FLU Causes
Influenza Flu is a viral infection caused by influenza viruses that affect the nose, throat, and lungs. Like most viral infections, It is HIGHLY contagious and easily spread to other people. One is more likely to give Flu virus to others in the first five days. It spreads via sneezing, coughing, or talking to another person. It spreads through droplets. One can inhale the germs (from droplets) directly or can pick it from any object like tables, telephone, computer keyboard, door handles, etc. And then transfer the germs to the nose throat or mouth. The germs from the cough and sneezes can live on the hands & surfaces for up to 24 hours.
Influenza virus has four types A, B, C, and D. Human Influenza A & B viruses cause the annual seasonal flu epidemics. Type C infections generally cause mild illness and are not thought to cause human flu epidemics. Type D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to cause illness in people.
Influenza FLU Symptoms
Influenza has a wide range of symptom from mild to moderate to severe. Common symptoms of influenza are listed below.
- FEVER over 100.4 f(38C)
- MYALGIA & BODY ACHES
- FATIGUE, TIREDNESS
- CHILLS & SWEAT
- RUNNY, STUFFED & BLOCKED NOSE
- BURNING, ITCHY OR WATERY EYES
- SORE THROAT, THROAT IRRITATION / CONGESTION
- DRY PERSISTENT COUGH
- LETHARGY, MALAISE & FVERISH FEELING
- CHILDREN USUALLY HAVE EAR PAIN AS WELL
If one is young and healthy influenza is a routine matter and can go on its own or by the use of over the counter drugs like aspirin, paracetamol, or ibuprofen or with some home remedies but if you fall under the risky group or the ones who are at risk of developing complications of Influenza especially children and older adults do not ignore the flu from the beginning. Few common complications of Influenza are
- ASTHMA FLARE-UPS
- HEART PROBLEMS
- EAR INFECTIONS
Out of these Pneumonia is the most serious complication. For children, older adults, and people with chronic illness Pneumonia can be a fatal & deadly complication.
Influenza FLU Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccine to everyone age 6 months or older. Prevention of influenza can be the vaccination but vaccination is also not giving 100% prevention. But still, vaccination is the best defense against flu. The Influenza flu vaccination reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others. It’s more effective to get the vaccine before the start of the flu season (check the flu season in your region). Normally flu vaccine has no serious side effects, though it contains a portion of egg protein so people who have an egg allergy should get the flu vaccination in a hospital setting.
How to Control the Spread of Influenza?
As influenza vaccination is not giving 100% protection, the need of the hour is to adopt various measures to control the spread of infection because influenza is highly contagious. Below are some important ways to control the spread of flu or influenza. By adopting these methods you can protect yourself from influenza this season
- Thorough washing of hands is recommended at all levels. Frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent infection.
- Always cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow in order to prevent contamination of hands. Use tissues in order to trap the germs rather than spread them. Throw used tissues into the bin as soon as possible in order to avoid the spread of infection.
- Avoid crowds during the peak flu season. As flu spreads very easily wherever people gather like schools, offices, children’s daycare centers, markets, public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season one reduces the chance of getting flu. And if you get flu take rest for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that chance of spreading flu to others also decreased. Take care of others as well.
- Avoid close contact with a person who is having influenza. As influenza is highly contagious.
- Health care professionals should use a face mask while dealing with patients. And also frequent changing of these masks must be done for health hygiene and personal safety measures.
- Take your own sanitary products while going to the gym like towels, robes, etc. This lessens the chances of getting an infection.
- Use a face mask while going out or if someone at home has Influenza.
- The clean communal surface at least once a day.
Influenza FLU Treatment
Below are some quick measures to beat influenza. It helps anyone who gets sick with flu. Few common and quick measures are as follows.
- Take plenty of rest as it helps in getting rid of most of the flu symptoms. Mind your flu manners. Your body needs rest and sleep to heal from illness.
- Use plenty of fluids, fresh juices, warm water with added lemon &honey, and hot soups/broths during influenza, as it helps in maintaining hydration and helps in regaining body energy level.
- Use vitamin C. Vitamin C is an immunity booster. It is abundantly found in fresh fruits especially citrus fruits like orange, lemon, etc.
- Soothe a sore throat with lozenges, broths, or warm water with honey and lemon
- Treat fever with antipyretics like paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Treat myalgia with analgesics.
- Use Coffee this season. Coffee is the best antioxidant
- Take ginger tea. The use of herbs like ginger helps in influenza and the common cold.