Everything To Know About The Flu – Season, Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment

Posted: Dec 18 2015, 5:43pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Flu vaccination
Photo credit: Getty Images

There is always a lot to learn about the flu because the virus causing the disease keeps mutating every year - and this keeps a lot of people at risk of catching it, and health agencies as well as national governments on high alert by working round the clock to minimize infections and produce vaccinations. Here are a few things you can learn more about the annual infection:

What is influenza?

Generally called flu, influenza is an acute and highly contagious viral disease that causes a high body temperature or fever, and that can produce several complications in people with compromised immunity. Flu is largely a respiratory illness and generally occurs within a given season each year, and it could be mild or severe depending on strains of the mutated virus. Though flu has symptoms that can be mistaken for that of a cold, they are two different conditions.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Flu usually comes on suddenly, and has been known to lead to death in very severe cases. To know that you have flu, your infection may have to occur within the flu season and the following are some of the symptoms you may observe:

-    Feverish chills or high fever
-    Persistent coughs
-    Sore throat
-    Stuffy or runny nose
-    Body and muscular pains
-    Mild or severe headaches
-    General tiredness and fatigue
-    Vomiting and diarrhea in children

It must however be pointed out that not all persons experience fever or feverish conditions when they contract flu, so you must see your doctor if you experience two of more of the listed symptoms.

Emergency warning signs of severe flu

Both children and adults alike can come under severe flu infections, and this might lead to emergency hospitalizations. For children, some of the emergency warning signs to look out for are –

-    Belabored breathing or fast breathing
-    Inability to drink water or other fluids
-    Withdrawal from others after waking and at all times
-    Feeling of irritability or great dislike to be held
-    Severe fever and cough
-    Rash that come with a fever
-    Bluish skin color

Adults may also experience the following symptoms in emergency cases –

-    Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
-    Pressurized pain in the chest and abdomen
-    Confused state and dizziness
-    Some of the symptoms associated with children

Length of illness with flu

It is possible to get cured of the flu without any treatments whatsoever, but it is best to consult a doctor because you may not know if you have compromised immunity or experiencing an emergency condition that requires immediate hospitalization. But in mild cases, the flu symptoms can pass within a week or two, while fever may last only 3-5 days in mild cases.

But where the individual has severe flu or develops complications, the symptoms or the illness can be life-threatening or even result in sudden death. Complications from flu in this case could be pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus, ear infections, severe asthma, and triggered heart failure among others. These situations require hospitalizations in emergency ward, and treatment may last for a couple of weeks.

Health agencies for the flu

There are lots of government agencies working on preventing or treating people with flu and other diseases, while also educating them about what to know about certain health conditions. The most prominent among them in the United States is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are however a number of local, state, and federal health organizations dedicated to health issues in the US and in collaboration with other global health agencies. You can learn a lot about flu by visiting www.flu.org - a site dedicated to flu education and managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

When is the peak season for the flu?

The flu season starts around late November and usually peaks by mid-to-late December depending on the strains in circulation. But scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico warn that this year’s flu season may extend to 2016 and peak in February. A number of government health agencies are however on top of the situation and will continue to warn people with latest data that tells the direction in which the illness is spreading or peaking.

Who is at risk of contracting the flu?

Almost everybody is at risk of contracting flu during the flu season, most especially people who are unvaccinated against the infection. But some categories of people are at higher risks of contracting the infection, and these according to the CDC are –

-    Children and infants
-    Pregnant women
-    Seniors or elderly persons above the age of 65
-    People with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart conditions
-    People traveling or living abroad where vaccinations may not be enforced

What to do if you’re sick with flu

Do not panic and do not rush off to emergency care units until a doctor certifies that you’re in serious health condition. If your flu is mild, contact your doctor or a pharmacy store to get drugs to treat the symptoms. But if your condition is severe, contact a doctor immediate or go to the hospital; and make sure you do not rub bodies or mix with healthy people so as not to infect them with the illness. You may also need to stay home and away from people if you’re under treatment so as to reduce spreading the illness.

Prevention and treatment of the flu

The best and most effective way to prevent the spread of flu is to get vaccinated. Vaccination fights the virus from inside your body, and causes the illness to lose its power if you ever come down with it.

Flu can however be treated with antiviral drugs – these are prescription pills, liquid, inhaled powder, or intravenous solution that fights the virus in your body. You can get antiviral drugs from any chemist store once you have a prescription from a doctor; but antiviral drugs must not be mistaken for antibiotics which only fight bacterial infections.

It is best to commence antiviral treatment within two days of getting infected with flu because this increases their chances at destroying the virus in your body. Your antiviral drugs are best prescribed by a qualified doctor after inspecting you, and you must take the drugs everyday to cure yourself and protect others from being infected. It is also better to keep away from others by staying home until you’re well cured with no symptoms whatsoever for about 48 hours.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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