Influenza - Signs, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment
One illness that strikes during the winter months is influenza, the respiratory illness commonly known as the flu. It is contagious and primarily affects the lungs, nose, and bronchial tubes. Influenza viruses can strike people of all ages though young children, especially those between the ages of 3 and 5 are more susceptible to the illness. Those over the age of 65 are also vulnerable and can suffer serious illness which can at times prove fatal.
Annual vaccination is the recommended method of safeguarding against influenza. Mild cases of influenza can be cured with home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. The flu pandemic of 1918 lasted for about two years and saw over 20 million fatalities all over the world. It is considered the worst ever epidemic in the world’s history. Since then, many more new strains of the influenza viruses have been found including H5N1 which causes bird flu and H1N1 which causes swine flu. Immediate medical attention must be sought in severe cases.
Types of Influenza
The influenza viruses are categorized as Type A, Type B, and Type C. The first two can lead to epidemics while Type C results in only mild illness. Type A virus can be found in animals, birds, and humans while Type B is exclusive to humans. The Type A virus is more dangerous as it can mutate into various other strains easily. This is also why the strain of virus in annual immunizations keeps changing.
- Types of Influenza Virus – The kinds of influenza viruses and the various strains they produce.
- The Different Categories of Flu – There are three types of flu viruses of which one is predominantly harmless.
- Bird, Swine & Gastric Flu - NHS coverage of the influenza virus.
- Colds and The Flu – The different flu viruses and their impact.
- Avian Influenza: Implications for Human Disease – Causes of avian influenza and treatment options.
- Seasonal Flu, Avian Flu, and Pandemic Flu – The three types of contagious influenza found commonly.
Signs and Symptoms
The onset of flu is usually sudden with fever, headache, throat irritation, fatigue, dry cough, and lack of appetite being the common symptoms. Infants and young children may also have nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. It is easy to confuse flu symptoms with those of other ailments. Effects of the flu can stay for days and even weeks. People with compromised immune systems and the elderly or the very young may develop severe symptoms or complications.
- Signs and Symptoms of Influenza – Most common symptoms displayed by influenza patients.
- Difference Between Cold and Flu Symptoms – Explains how to differentiate between symptoms of common cold and influenza.
- Signs and Symptoms: Seasonal Flu and H1N1 – Distinguishing between symptoms of seasonal flu and H1N1 and knowing when to seek help.
- Cold Symptoms Vs. H1N1 Symptoms – Find out if it’s a cold or H1N1.
- Influenza Symptoms in Young Children – Pinpointing the cause of symptoms in young children and infants.
- Flu Symptoms and Severity – Gauging the severity of the flu and complications arising from the flu.
Simple things like washing hands properly and coughing or sneezing in the right way can help control the spread of flu to a great extent. Use of a hand sanitizer is also a good precautionary measure during flu season. Keeping the mouth and nose covered with a tissue when coughing and sneezing can stop the germs from being passed on to others. The tissue must then be discarded in a waste basket. Annual flu vaccines are available and these are very effective.
- The Influenza Vaccine – Types of influenza vaccine and tips on when to get vaccinated.
- Vaccine Myths - widely viewed beliefs which are wrong.
- Prevention of Influenza – Precautions that can help prevent influenza.
- Prevention and Control of Influenza – Immunization recommendations for children and infants.
- Influenza Prevention Through Hand Washing – Proper washing of hands and other hygienic practices can keep the flu at bay.
- Tips to Help Avoid Influenza – Seasonal influenza and H1N1 vaccines and suggestions on who should get these shots.
- Benefits of Flu Shots – A study indicates that benefits of the flu vaccine are significantly more than the costs.
Most people seek professional medical treatment for the flu only if symptoms turn severe or do not improve with the use of home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. People with medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and immune disorders, as well as pregnant women, should seek a doctor’s opinion and not opt for self-medication. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are good fever reducers but aspirin should not be used for this purpose. Anti-viral drugs may be prescribed for children or those who are extremely sick.
- What To Do If Sick With Influenza – List of precautions to adopt if sick with influenza.
- When to Seek Medical Treatment – Going to a doctor is not always necessary for flu patients.
- Drugs and Vaccines Used in Influenza Treatment – Tamiflu, Relenza, Amantidine, and Rimantadine are some drugs used to tackle influenza strains.
- Some Tips When Self-Treating Influenza – Pointers to differentiate between medications and finding the one best suited for an individual.
- A New Way of Treating the Flu – New research may take the fight against influenza to the next level using novel approaches.
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