Flue, or influenza, represents the medical condition that involves a highly infectious and viral illness and is generally spread by coughing and sneezing. Unless like common cold which is a mild infection, flue is caused by a group of viruses and the symptoms are more sever, while the infection lasts longer. People get infected with flu anytime during the year, however it is mostly specific in winter time during which it is called the seasonal flu.
The lost appetite is also usually present, as well as nauseous feelings and dry and chest cough. It is also associated with chills and aching muscles, as well as limb or joint pain. Among other symptoms there is diarrhea or upset stomach and sometimes difficulty speaking. The symptoms of flue can sometimes be so serious, that the individual may not be able to go out of the bed and will need rest until feeling better. The peak of the symptoms’ intensity is usually in the second or third day after infection occurred, but they tend to reduce within 5-8 days. The cough and the tiring feeling may still be present for 2-3 weeks.
In case of flu symptoms, the need to see a doctor appears if there are severe symptoms of it. This way, it is not necessary to visit a doctor if the individual feels ok, even if he/she has flu-like symptoms. People who got flu need to rest at home and keep their body warm, as well as drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration due to excess sweating while getting rid of the high temperature. Certain medication can be used to reduce the fever and relieve aches.
These categories of people should visit the doctor as soon as the symptoms appear. The doctor will evaluate the general health of the individual and will prescribe the needed medication which is usually consisting of antiviral drugs. The treatment is used to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the infection. That is why it should start as soon as the symptoms appeared to make it more efficient. Antibiotics can not be used here because this is a virus and not some bacteria.
Flu in children and people with weakened immune system, especially those with cancer, may experience a longer period of infection than others. Older people are more likely to have a serious version of flu that can lead to complications. Flu complications can lead to serious cases and sometimes to death. An epidemic flu can cause even more complications, cases of flu and death than the usual seasonal flu. Pregnant women are also more likely to have complications. The most serious complication is the bacterial chest that can develop into pneumonia. In such cases, antibiotics are helpful, however the infection can be life-threatening. There are also rare complications that include tonsillitis, as well as otitis media, septic shock that is the infection of the blood meningitis and encephalitis.
There are various causes of flu, however the most common and usual way to get the infection is by direct contact. The flu virus is released through coughing and sneezing by means of the droplets. A person that is sneezing or coughing can spread the tiny droplets with the virus in a range of 1 meter. The droplets stay in the air until they can sit on surfaces where the virus is able to live for 24 hours. People who breathe in the droplets are at risk of catching the virus. Touching infected objects and then touching the nose or mouth will also lead to infection. That’s why it is recommended to wash hands frequently to avoid infection and prevent its spreading.
Once the individual is infected with the virus, his/her body starts to produce antibodies that fight against the virus. The body has the ability to remember the flu next time the virus tries to invade the body and thus is able to fight it easily. However, the flu virus can change its structure and strain and this automatically changes the way the body reacts to it, because it is no longer recognized as the first form and due to this the individual may catch the flue again. A virus with a modified strain to which people do not have resistance may cause a flu pandemic that is spread among people all over the world.
This can be done by following simple rules that are mostly related to the personal hygiene: washing hands regularly with soap and water, cleaning surfaces regularly, as well as using tissues when sneezing and coughing and throwing them in the garbage bins immediately. Avoiding contact with an infected person, or with other people if the individual is infected, is another tip to avoid contamination and spreading. Staying home and avoiding going to the office is indicated until the individual is no longer infectious and feels better. Vaccines are available for prevention purposes as well.