• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022
Flu (Influenza)

Influenza(flu) is a contagious viral infection that attacks your respiratory system’s nose, throat, and lungs. Influenza is usually referred to as the flu, but it is not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Symptoms

At first, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing, and throat pain. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu fever comes on suddenly. And although a cold can be a bother, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Aching muscles
  • Chills and sweats
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Throat pain
  • Eye pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than in adults

Causes

Influenza viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection sneezes, coughs, or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can select the germs from an object such as a telephone or computer keyboard and then transfer them to your eyes, nose, or mouth

People infected with the virus one day before the onset of symptoms can spread it for up to five days. Children and those with weakened immune systems may be infected for some time.

Influenza viruses are constantly evolving, and new strains are constantly appearing. If you have had the flu in the past, your body has already developed antibodies to fight that particular virus. In the future, if the influenza viruses are the same as those you encountered before, through disease or vaccination, those antibodies can prevent the infection or reduce its severity.  

Also, antibodies against influenza viruses you have encountered in the past will not protect you from new influenza strains, which may be different viruses than you were before.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of developing the flu or its difficulties include:

  • Age. Seasonal fever targets children 6 months to 5 years of age and adults 65 years of age or older.
  • Living or working conditions. Individuals who live or work with multiple residents, such as in nursing homes or military camps, are more likely to develop the flu. Hospital stays are also at high risk.
  • Weakened immune system. Cancer treatments, antidepressants, long-term use of steroids, organ transplants, leukemia, or HIV / AIDS can weaken the immune system. This makes it easier to catch the flu and may also increase the risk of developing complications.
  • Chronic illnesses. Chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, neurological diseases, metabolic disorders, respiratory disorders, and lung diseases such as kidney, liver, or blood diseases, may increase the risk of flu complications.
  • Race. Native American people may have an increased risk of influenza difficulties.
  • Aspirin use under age 19. People under the age of 19 and those receiving long-term aspirin treatment are at increased risk of developing Reyes’ syndrome if they are exposed to influenza.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to develop influenza complications, especially in the second and third trimesters. Women are more likely to develop influenza-related complications within two weeks of giving birth to their babies.
  • Obesity. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more have an increased risk of flu difficulties.

When to see a doctor

Most people who get the flu can be treated at home and often do not need to see a doctor.

If you have flu-like symptoms and are at risk for difficulties, consult your doctor immediately. Taking antiviral drugs can shorten the duration of your illness and help prevent more serious problems.

If you have emergency symptoms of the flu, seek medical attention immediately. For adults, emergency symptoms include:

  • Constant dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions
  • Severe weakness or muscle pain

Emergency symptoms in children can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Blue lips
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions