Influenza (flu) – Condition

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Overview

Influenza (flu) is one of the contagious respiratory diseases caused by the virus. The virus affects the nose, throat, and occasionally the lungs, resulting in an infectious respiratory disease that spreads via contact with others. It may cause mild to severe diseases as well as death in certain cases. The easiest method to prevent the influenza is by getting vaccinated.The yearly influenza vaccination, despite the fact that it is not 100 percent effective, is still your greatest line of protection against the flu.

The majority of the time, the flu will go on its own. The following individuals are at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications than the general population:

·         Children under the age of five

·         Adults that are above the age of 65

·         Those who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

·         Pregnant women

·         Individuals with weakened immune systems

·         Obese people with a BMI of 40 or higher

Causes

The influenza viruses A, B, and C are the three kinds of influenza viruses that exist and are responsible for this disease. They are responsible for the transmission of the flu virus from person to person. When the flu viruses (influenza A and B) infect humans, they cause epidemics of respiratory disease, which occur nearly every winter and are often linked with higher hospitalization and mortality rates. Type C influenza varies from influenza types A and B in a number of significant ways. When individuals acquire a type C infection, it is most common for them to experience mild respiratory symptoms or perhaps no symptoms at all. Infections of the type C are very uncommon. When compared to other viruses such as flu A and B, influenza C does not spread in epidemics and does not have the same severe public health consequences that other viruses have.

Influenza types A and B viruses contain surface antigens that cause respiratory system inflammation. Influenza viruses are discharged into the air and spread across the room when a person suffering with influenza coughs, sneezes, or talks. To contract the virus, you either inhale the droplets directly, or you must take up the virus from an object — such as a phone or a computer keyboard — and then transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, and mouth by coming into close contact with the droplets.

Those who have been infected with the virus are most likely to transmit the disease to others on the day before symptoms appear and during the first five days after the appearance of symptoms. Compared to the general population, the infectious period for youngsters and individuals with weak immune systems may be prolonged for a longer duration of time.

Symptoms

At first glance, the flu may seem to be a typical cold, complete with sneezing, runny nose and sore throat, but this is not the case. Colds typically grow slowly, while the flu frequently appears all at once. Although a cold may be a nuisance, the flu generally makes you feel considerably worse than a cold. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of the flu:

·         Fever

·         Muscle aches and pains

·         Feeling cold and sweaty

·         Headache

·         Cough that is dry and persistent

·         A feeling of being out of breath

·         Tiredness and a feeling of weakness

·         Nose congestion or runny nose

·         Throat discomfort

·         Experiencing eye discomfort

·         Vomiting and diarrhea (frequent in children, but less prevalent in adults)

Diagnosis

Patients’ interactions with people, who are known to be ill with the flu, as well as their own symptoms, are taken into consideration when diagnosing the flu clinically. After evaluating you for influenza signs and symptoms, your doctor will order a test to check for the presence of influenza viruses in your system. During periods when influenza is prevalent, you may not be required to have an influenza test performed. According to your signs and symptoms, your doctor may make a diagnosis about your condition.

 A health care practitioner would do a test of nasopharyngeal swab sample on a patient to determine whether or not the patient has influenza A or B virus infection. The vast majority of tests are capable of distinguishing between A and B types. The test may come back negative (showing that you do not have the flu) or positive (saying that you have influenza strains A or B). If the type A test results in a positive result, the individual may have contracted a common flu strain or a potentially more deadly variation such as the H1N1 virus.

It is possible that if you have influenza, your doctor will recommend that you get tested for the virus. A variety of tests may be used to determine whether a person has influenza, and each test has its own set of limitations. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing is becoming more common in hospitals and laboratories throughout the country. In the future, it is possible that PCR testing may be more sensitive than current assays and will be able to distinguish different influenza strains more effectively.

Treatment

To treat the flu, rest and lots of water are all that are required. If you have a severe sickness or are at a greater risk of complications from the illness, your doctor may recommend that you take an antiviral medication to help you recover from the symptoms. These medications may be able to reduce the duration of your sickness by a day or two, as well as assist you avoid experiencing severe side effects.

Increasing fluid intake, taking warm showers, and using warm compresses to the nasal region, in particular, may help to alleviate body pains and nasal congestion or head congestion. Congestion may be relieved with nasal strips and humidifiers, which can be particularly helpful if you are attempting to sleep.

When to see a doctor

Immediately see your doctor if you notice any of the flu symptoms like fast breathing, persistent vomiting, fever, dizziness and body pain. It is important to consult your physician in case of the appearance of flu signs in order to prevent complications like pneumonia, dehydration and sinus problems.


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