What is it?
Influenza is basically a viral infection which attacks the respiratory tract and majorly affects the throat, nose, and even lungs in serious cases. The symptoms of influenza usually start emerging from the first day to the fourth day right after infection. They may also appear all of a sudden. For most of the persons, a session of this infection is an extremely unpleasant and irritating one. But it does not actually stay for long since it is one of the most short-lived physical issues. For other people, however, it can create major health complications, particularly if risks of suffering from pneumonia arise.
Outbreaks of influenza tend to attack people annually and that too at around the same period in every calendar year. Each outbreak may happen by various subtypes or strains of viruses, so each year another variety of vaccine may be needed for the prevention of flu.
Kinds of influenza
There are numerous types of viruses which cause influenza and the list includes multiple subtypes as well as strains.There are three major kinds of influenza viruses i.e. A, B, and C. Influenza A virus and B virus are the reasons behind annual epidemics of seasonal influenza. On the other hand, Influenza C creates milder illnesses and is hardly capable of causing epidemics. Influenza A can also infect a number of birds, mammals including humans; whereas B and C types infect mostly human beings.
This particular type is divided into a few subtypes that are based on the kind of two proteins – abbreviated N and H staying on the virus’s surface. These subtypes are also categorized into multiple strains.Every strain of influenza A does vary a lot as per their species of infection and the serious illnesses they cause. All strains of influenza A viruses are not competent to infect humans.
Influenza B viruses can be categorized into strains as well as lineages rather than their subtypes. These viruses are pretty much capable of causing severe illnesses.One or two sorts of B viruses are largely included in the yearly fever vaccines. The trivalent vaccine that contains three virus components does include one and the quadrivalent vaccine which contains four virus components does include two B type viruses.
This specific type is responsible for causing infections of upper respiratory tract in kids. C viruses are usually not included in the influenza vaccines and they circulate in a much slower rate than A and B types.
Influenza viruses undergo constant changes via mutations and that is the reason why one needs a new kind of influenza vaccine every single year.The influenza viruses change so much each year that the human immune system is incapable of recognizing them from one year right to the next. These yearly changes are known as antigenic drift and they occur in all the three types i.e. A, B, and C.
How does influenza spread?
Influenza spreads from the people who have already been attacked by these viruses and are still suffering from it. Making physical contacts are not always required for influenza viruses to get passed on to you from an affected person. Staying in the same area and breathing the air which have influenza virus in it are absolutely capable of affecting you. The best way of avoiding influenza attacks before taking help of flu treatment is to take annual vaccinations. You must encourage the people who stay around you in your house and workplace to do the same in order to stay away from this illness. Avoid people who are already sick and do wash your hands properly and frequently.
Complications of influenza
Due to complications of influenza the highest amounts of hospitalization take place among people who are eighty-five years of age and older. But there are numerous groups which are considered at major risk of complications of influenza.
Those groups include
- Adults who are of sixty-five years of age and older
- Children who are younger than five years and especially the ones below two years
- Expecting women
- Alaskan Natives as well as American Indians
- Adults who have pre-existing lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Common complications which are noticed in humans by getting affected with flu are:
- Muscle inflammation or Myositis
- Ear infections in infants
- Sinus infections
- Inflammation of the cardiac muscles or Myocarditis
- Inflammation of the bronchi or Bronchitis
- Inflammation of the sac which surrounds human heart or Pericarditis
- Worsening of continuing medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, or congestive cardiac failure
Learn the treatments for influenza
Getting a lot of sleep and drinking healthy fluids largely help the human body in treating influenza as fluids prevent dehydration and rest provide the body with much energy to fight off fever. Vaccines took every year as a routine work can also keep these infections away from you. In most of the cases of influenza can be treated well at home. Apart from having fluids except alcohol and caffeinated beverages and taking the rest the treatments include the use of fever and pain reducers and application of decongestants for easing out symptoms of influenza.
Gargling with salt and lukewarm water would provide relief to your throat.
Use a humidifier for moistening dry air.
You can place a hot compress on nose or forehead to reduce sinus pain and headache.
Hot chicken soup can be consumed.
Use neti pots or similar devices for rinsing your nasal passages well with saline.
Take a steam bath but not for long.
Inhale the steam of boiled water placed in a large pan while wrapping your head with steam soaked towel.
A few over the counter or OTC medicines, products are applied for flu treatment and those are:
Aspirin (for adults)
Expectorants or cough suppressants
While consuming the above mentioned OTC products do be aware of their daily dosage and never cross the maximum limit of their daily consumption no matter how much pains you feel. If serious conditions arise do get in touch with your doctor as quickly as possible.