Flu, also called influenza, is a respiratory disease caused by viruses. Flu is an infectious communicable illness easily spread by sneezes and coughs of an infected person.
Touching a person who is infected, such as shaking hands for hellos and goodbyes, can cause flu.
A person can spread the influenza virus even without knowing as it contaminates an average adult 1 to 2 days before getting the symptoms of flu, and contagiousness lasts up to 7 days, followed by the disease.
This article contains symptoms of flu, how to treat flu, how flu differs from a cold, and the best ways for the prevention of influenza.
Facts on Flu –
Before the main article, some key points about flu are:
- Some antiviral can treat influenza, but not antibiotics.
- Around 5-10 percent of Americans will have flu at some time.
- The prime prevention from the flu is getting vaccinated every year, according to the experts.
- Flu vaccination is unsuitable for people who are allergic to chicken eggs.
People often confound flu with a lousy cold.
The common symptoms that occur in both flu and cold are:
- a blocked or runny nose
- a painful or sore throat
People can differentiate flu from the cold by the following symptoms that occur only in the flu affected persons
- Cold sweats
- Joint and limb pain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
Gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, more common in children, may also occur.
Usually, the symptoms of flu appear for one week, but exhaustion may last for two to three weeks.
It is noticeable that all the symptoms of flu do not take place at once or in a single person. For instance, it may be possible to have flu without having high temperatures.
Early Symptoms of Flu –
Extreme tiredness is one of the preliminary signs of flu and cold. There are high chances of fatigue being more severe with the flu.
Other primary signs of flu include:
- sore throat
- body ache
- gastrointestinal issues.
Antibiotics are not beneficial for the treatment of flu as viruses induce it. The flu may sometime lead to other diseases caused by bacteria, then the antibiotics come into play.
The doctor prescribes antivirals like zanamivir (Relenza) or oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in some cases.
In addition to this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new medicine, baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), in the USA in 2018. It is helpful in the treatment of acute uncomplicated influenza or flu. It is an oral drug taken as a single dose per day.
People who can receive treatment from this medication include:
- Children aged 12 years or above
- Patients who had symptoms for 48 hours for lesser
The possible side effects of the medicine are bronchitis and diarrhea.
Pain relief medication can reduce and treat symptoms like body aches and headaches.
People can purchase various pain killers online. However, it is essential that a person only takes pain relievers on a doctor’s prescription.
Pain killers like aspirin are not suitable for children below 12 years of age.
Home Remedies –
There are numerous home remedies for people suffering from flu, such as:
- Try to stay at home as much as possible
- Avoid direct contact with people
- Keep warm
- Take good rest
- Consume more liquids
- Avoid alcohol
- Do not smoke
- Eat properly if possible
The people living alone can tell their relatives, friends, neighbor, or any loved one that they have flu to make sure that someone can take care of them and check on them regularly.
When to See A Doctor –
The person with flu needs to contact a doctor if:
- their fever remains high for more than four days
- the symptoms of flu worsen
- they are older or frail
- they feel severely sick
- they experience shortness of breath or pain in the chest, or both in worst cases
Influenza is not a severe illness, but it is unpleasant to have flu. However, there can be severe complications in very young children, older people, and individuals with a weak immune system or other long-term diseases.
The risk of having grave issues with flu increases in people:
- over 65 years of age
- infants or very young children
- pregnant women
- those with cardiovascular diseases or kidney diseases
- those with asthma, bronchitis, or other chest problems
- having diabetes
- taking steroids
- undergoing cancer treatment
- those with a weak immune system
The issues caused by influenza include:
- bacterial pneumonia
- worsening of ongoing chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart failure
The children below 16 years of age are prone to develop ear infections and sinus problems during the flu.
According to the studies, over 200,000 people have flu complications each year in the United States of America, and about 36,000 people die as a result of flu.
Globally, approximately 250,000 to 500,000 people die every year due to flu conditions.
A large number of deaths occur among people over 65 years of age in industrialized countries.
The flu epidemic is a condition where a massive number of people in one country are flu affected. It lasts from one to two weeks up to several weeks.
Having a flu vaccination every year is the best way to protect yourself from flu, according to health experts and government agencies.
There are majorly two types of vaccinations:
- Flu shot
- Nasal-spray flu vaccine
A flu shot is usually administered with a needle in the arm by any health care professional.
Anyone older than six months, including people having chronic medical conditions, can take a flu shot.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine contains alive and weakened flu viruses that do not cause problems.
Seasonal Flu Shots –
The flu vaccine has three influenza viruses, namely:
- influenza (H1N2) virus
- influenza (H3N2) virus
- one B virus
The viruses in the vaccine, like all other viruses, adapt, and change. The international surveillance and scientists calculate which virus types needs to circulate in a particular year.
Protection from flu and other virus infections starts within two weeks following the vaccination.
Vaccinations from seasonal flu generally start in September, or as soon as the vaccine is available, it continues throughout the influenza season, in January, and sometimes beyond. It happens because the duration and timing of flu seasons are never the same.
Usually, the flu outbreaks around January in the USA, but it may take place just at the beginning of October.
Seasonal Flu Shots are not suitable for some people
Individuals having the following issues should consult their doctor before going for flu vaccinations
- People allergic severely to chicken eggs
- People having a history of flu vaccination hypersensitivity
- People who develop Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving a flu vaccination
- Children below six months
- Individuals who have a fever should wait until they completely recover
Three types of flu viruses are:
- influenza A
- influenza B
- influenza C
Type A and B viruses are the reason for seasonal epidemics in the USA and Europe more or less every winter.
Type C virus causes mild respiratory problems, but it is not responsible for outbreaks.