It is such a tragedy that every year around 20% of the population die due to influenza. Moreover, older adults are more vulnerable to influenza (commonly called the flu), a serious infectious disease that can lead to hospitalization, pneumonia and even death.
What is Influenza?
Influenza or Flu is a highly communicable, respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that enter into your body through mucus membranes.
How is the Influenza Virus Transmitted?
Influenza flu symptoms can be seen through virus gets transmitted when you inhale infected droplets in the air (when an infected person coughs or sneezes).
When you touch a contaminated surface like a telephone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth, the flu virus gets absorbed.
Of course, the risk of infection is high in large populated areas like schools, buses, trains, shopping malls and crowded urban settings.
It may be mild or severe; flu symptoms may appear within 1 to 4 days after virus attack.
- Fever (100o F or more, lasting for 3-4 days)
- Severe body pains
- Runny nose
How will you identify if it is Flu or Cold?
Flu and cold have influenza virus symptoms. It is difficult to distinguish between them. Your healthcare providers can give you a test within the first week.
Influenza signs and symptoms
Usually, fever, chills, aches are less common in cold, which are prominent in flu. In case you find any such symptoms, immediately consult your doctor.
Next, we shall move on to types of Flu.
Types of Flu
Basically, there are 3 types of flu viruses:
- Type A – Found in all animals including ducks, chicken, pigs and humans.
- Type B – Widely circulated in humans
- Type C – Found in humans, pigs and dogs.
Influenza is a highly unstable virus. Today, the world is facing problem with this prevailing virus, which has many subtypes.
Influenza Type A is divided into many subtypes like H1N1 (Swine flu), H1N2, H5N1 (Bird Flu) H7N9 (Avian Flu in china) and H3N2 (spread to humans from pig) viruses.
Of these, seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness, caused by flu viruses, typically in the months of Octobers to April. Hence it is advisable to get immunized with flu vaccines before October. Influenza B symptoms can be observed over the time.
Influenza A and B is a global disease outbreak like swine flu, bird flu; it occurs rarely, but causes severe damage.
Historically, the 20th century saw three pandemics of influenza and the 21st has experienced one flu pandemic.
As everyone say prevention is better, you must follow the same slogan.
- Change your daily habits into healthy habits to minimize flu attacks.
- Use hand wash daily, avoid close contacts and cover your nose and mouth, practice good hygiene.
- The flu virus can expand by direct contact, like shaking hands, sharing things, anything. So be cautions. Always cover your nose and mouth and wash your hands often with soap and warm water. You can also opt for a non-alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer). Influenza viruses are cold or heat resistant. They can live up to 2-8 hours on the surface.
- Avoid contact or being in proximity with people who have cold or flu, wherever possible.
- Flu shot vaccination is the best way to protect you from the flu.
- If you’re diagnosed with flu, then stay at home, so that you can take complete rest and stop spreading them. There are seasonal influenza symptoms which need to be looked out for.
- Drink clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated.
- Place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with fever.
- Keep a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier.
- Gargle salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
- Cover up your body with a warm blanket to calm chills.
- Fight the flu with food such as garlic, salmon, red bell pepper, carrot, chicken soup, dark chocolate, ginger, almond, sweet potatoes.
- You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication. Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms, but will not make you less contagious.
- Consult your healthcare provider. If the condition gets serious, use the prescribed antiviral medications or prescription pills, liquids, or inhalers to prevent or treat flu viruses.
- Make your immunity system strong by eating healthy nutritious food and exercising regularly. You can also opt for antioxidants supplements to strengthen your immunity.
It’s time to end. Presently, the world is warming with different types of influenza viruses. So please be aware of this and take this as a privilege to spread awareness on this disease. Always look out for influenza symptoms and treatment.
So what precautions do you generally take to prevent from falling prey to influenza? Share with us in the comments below.