Every time someone is sick with nasal congestion, aches, and a low-grade fever, we frequently hear people seem to think they have the flu. The common cold and the flu can occasionally be difficult to distinguish. What is the actual situation with the flu, then?
The influenza virus is what makes people sick with the flu. In this article, we’ll go over a bit more information on the flu virus, including what it is, how it spreads, and the symptoms it causes.
What is Flu (Influenza)?
A viral infection known as influenza targets your respiratory system, including your nose, throat, and lungs. Although influenza is frequently referred to as the flu, it differs from stomach “flu” viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Flu spreads through respiratory droplets and is very contagious. It can be transmitted verbally or physically, such as when hands are shaken.
Every winter, seasonal epidemics of influenza A and influenza B spread throughout the world and in the United States. Typically, Type C leads to a mild respiratory illness. Some influenza A strains, including the H5N1 “bird flu” virus, can occasionally infect people and lead to severe illness. These strains are closely monitored by experts who attempt to foresee how they will evolve and how they may affect individuals.
The flu typically goes away on its own for most people. But occasionally, influenza and its side effects can be fatal. Those who are more likely to experience flu complications include:
- Children under the age of five, in particular those under six months
- Adults who are over 65
- Residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes
- Women who are pregnant and those who have given birth up to two weeks ago
- Those whose immune systems are compromised
- Native Americans
- Chronically ill individuals, including those with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, and other diseases
According to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person who is suffering from flu may experience
- A stuffy nose
- High temperature for 3-4 days.
- Cold sweats and shivers
- Severs Aches
- Headache and fatigue
Not every flu patient will exhibit all of these signs and symptoms. For instance, the flu can occur without a fever.
Typically, influenza symptoms appear suddenly. A flu patient may initially experience
- High temperature
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Severe aches
- Low appetite
Symptoms in Adults
- Breathing difficulty
- pain in the chest or abdomen
- Dizziness loss of alertness
- Dehydration cause urination problem
- Body pain and unsteadiness
- Fever and cough which go back and come again.
- Other worsening health conditions
Symptoms in children
If children suffering from flu, then they need serious health care:
- breathing difficulty
- Fast breathing
- bluish face or lips
- ribs pulling inward as they breathe which cause chest pain
- severe aches
- lack of alertness
- Fever above 104°F or
- Fever and cough which go back and come again.
- Other worsening medical conditions
Symptoms in babies
The baby needs serious medical attention if they:
- If you do not hold them
- Blue or grey skin colour
- Fast breathing or have difficulty in breathing
- Fever with a rash
- have symptoms that which go back and come again.
- Signs of dehydration, for example, not urinating
- Do not interact
- have severe vomiting
When a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets of the influenza virus are released into the air. You can either directly inhale the droplets or pick up the bacteria from a surface, like a phone or computer keyboard, and then transfer it to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
People who have the virus are most likely contagious from a day or so before symptoms start to a week or so after they do. Children and those with compromised immune systems may spread germs for a little while longer.
New strains of influenza viruses frequently emerge as a result of ongoing evolution. Your body has already produced antibodies to fight that particular strain of the virus if you’ve previously had influenza. These antibodies may prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection if future influenza viruses are similar to those you’ve already encountered, either by contracting the illness or receiving the vaccination. But over time, antibody levels might drop.
Additionally, you might not be protected from new influenza strains that can be very different viruses from what you had previously by antibodies against influenza viruses you have already encountered.
Patient with uncomplicated seasonal flu:
Patients who do not belong to a high-risk group should only receive symptomatic care, and they should be advised to stay at home if they are symptomatic in order to reduce the risk of spreading the illness to others in the neighbourhood. The goal of treatment is to reduce influenza symptoms like fever. Patients should keep an eye on themselves to see if their condition worsens, and then seek medical help. Antivirals should be administered as soon as possible in addition to symptomatic care for patients who are known to be in a group at high risk for developing severe or complicated illnesses.
Antiviral medications should be administered as soon as possible to patients with severe or progressive clinical illness linked to suspected or verified influenza virus infection (such as clinical syndromes of sepsis, pneumonia, or exacerbation are of chronic underlying diseases).
- To maximise therapeutic benefits, neuraminidase inhibitors, such as oseltamivir, should be prescribed as soon as possible (ideally, within 48 hours of symptom onset). Patients who present later in the course of the illness should also be taken into account when administering the medication.
- It is advised to continue treatment for a minimum of 5 days, but this can be done if necessary to achieve satisfactory clinical improvement.
- Since corticosteroids have been linked to prolonged viral clearance and immunosuppression that results in bacterial or fungal superinfection, they should not be used routinely unless indicated for other reasons (such as asthma and other specific conditions).
- Adamantane antiviral medications (like amantadine and rimantadine) are ineffective as monotherapies against any of the influenza viruses that are currently circulating.
In order to provide timely recommendations for the use of antivirals in clinical management and potential chemoprophylaxis, WHO GISRS monitors antiviral resistance among influenza viruses circulating.
Sanitise your hands. Many common infections can be avoided by frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In the absence of soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Do not touch your face. Do not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Cover your sneezes and coughs. Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue. After that, wash your hands.
Pristine surfaces To stop the spread of infection from touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face, regularly clean frequently touched surfaces.
Don’t prefer to go in crowds. Everywhere there are crowds of people, the flu is easily contagious: in daycare facilities, schools, workplaces, auditoriums, and public transportation. You lessen your risk of contracting the flu by avoiding crowds during the height of the flu season.
First, getting vaccinated against the flu lowers the risk of getting sick. Flu complications can be potentially serious, necessitate hospitalisation, and are not just very unpleasant.
Furthermore, even if someone contracts the flu, the vaccine may still provide protection. In those who receive the vaccine but still become ill, the illness may be milder.
Last but not least, by getting the flu shot, you’re defending against the flu in groups that can’t get it or who are vulnerable to serious complications from it, like the elderly, young children, the immunocompromised, and those with long-term medical conditions.
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