What is Flu?01 Nov 2019
Despite the numerous efforts to encourage people to get flu vaccines to prevent infections, a majority of people are still at risk. Seeing that October, the flu month, is fast approaching, it’s important to know about the flu and how to prevent it.
Causes of Flu
Flu or influenza is a viral infection that affects the throat and respiratory system. Although symptoms are similar, the cold and flu are not the same. In most cases, flu symptoms disappear on their own in a few days.
Influenza virus causes the flu and infects the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus is contagious and spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, sending virus droplets into the air and affecting the people nearby.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the influenza virus constantly changes with new strains appearing every other day. Our bodies develop antibodies to fight previous virus strains you have encountered before, but they can’t protect you from new strains. That’s why it’s important to visit urgent care in Katy, TX, for vaccination to prevent complications.
There are four flu types: A and B viruses that cause seasonal epidemics, C virus that causes mild respiratory illness. Virus D affects cattle and not humans.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
In the first few days, it’s hard to differentiate between cold and flu symptoms. Some of the early symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, and runny nose. However, unlike the cold, flu develops rapidly causing:
- Muscle aches
- Chills and sweats
- Excessive fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems
These symptoms appear in both children and adults, but your child may develop other symptoms like:
- Loss of appetite
- Fever with rush
- Difficulty urinating
- Crying with no tears
N/B: In children, flu and cold are similar, but if they develop fever, sore throat, then you should seek urgent care near you.
Several factors increase the risk of developing influenza:
Although the flu can affect anyone, influenza targets children below one year and seniors 65 years or older.
- Weak immune system
A weakened immune system predisposes the body to virus attacks. Long term use of steroids, anti-rejection drugs, and organ transplant can weaken the immune system.
Pregnant women in the second and third trimester are likely to develop influenza.
- Chronic illness
Diseases like asthma, diabetes, blood, and heart disease, neurological disease may increase the risk of influenza and complications.
- Obesity, working and living conditions
Some people, especially children, develop flu complications like pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, inflammation of the heart, brain and muscle, organ failure.
The flu virus can also trigger extra inflammatory response causing sepsis.
The flu requires nothing but good bed rest and lots of fluids. However, in severe infections, the doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which will help shorten the illness and prevent serious complications. Antivirals can be used by people aged 12 years and older. Plus, they should be taken within the first 48 hours.
Keep in mind; most antiviral medications cause nausea and vomiting, which will disappear if taken with food.
Center for Disease Control recommends annual flu vaccination for people aged six months or older because of the change in flu strains. Vaccines are effective in fighting infections, especially if received early. CDC advises you to get vaccinated by the end of October as that when the virus gets active and contagious.
Seasonal shots are made of mild egg protein and may not be suitable for people with chicken egg protein and children under six months.
Antiviral medications combined with these home remedies can ease the symptoms quickly:
- Drink plenty of water and soups to prevent dehydration. Keep off caffeinated drinks as they are diuretics.
- Get plenty of rest to empower your immune system to fight the flu. Also, don’t engage in strenuous workouts until your flu is gone.
- Humidify. Moist air eases nasal congestion and sore throat. You can buy home humidifiers or take a steamy shower once a day.
- Nasal irrigation also helps with sinus infections.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 200,000 people in America suffer from flu infection every year. However, with annual flu vaccination, you can stay ahead of the infection. Also, pay attention to your body by resting and hydrating.