Influenza is a contagious disease which sometimes can occur as an epidemic. Globally, about 500.000 people die each year as a result of flu. Majority of these deaths occur among people over the age of 65 years. This is mainly in the industrialized countries. A flu epidemic occurs where a large number of people in one country are infected and this can last several weeks. Experts in health and government agencies globally say that the single best way to protect oneself from catching the flu is to get vaccinated every year. This will save and protect the people from experiencing flu epidemics which can cost a country lots of money as well as loss of lives. This kind of information will empower people to be aware and take necessary action to protect themselves from severe flu infections.
Influenza is a common viral infection that can be deadly especially in high-risk groups. It is a respiratory infection which can spread even before the person knows that he is infected. It can spread very easily but is also preventable through vaccination. It is easily diagnosed and treatable once the symptoms occur. It is a short-term illness which resolves within days or weeks. It is highly contagious and is spread through coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms of Flu Infection
Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, cough, nasal congestion, running nose and fatigue the cough may either be dry or productive. There can be loss of appetite and also sweating, chest congestion, nausea, shortness of breath, sore throat or even swollen lymph nodes.
People at high risk of contracting flu infection are adults above 65 years, babies, as well as young children, pregnant women and individuals with heart diseases.
Those with chest problems such as asthma or bronchitis, people with kidney diseases, diabetics and, also those on steroid treatment. It is also common in individuals undergoing cancer therapy and those with long-standing chronic infections that make their immunity compromised.
Usually, lab tests or imaging are rarely required. Antibiotics are also not necessary. However, flu is basically treated with rest and fluids to let the body fight the infection on its own. Over-the-counter painkillers can be used to relieve pain and reduce the symptoms. Annual flu vaccine helps prevent flu and reduce complications. Supportive care is mainly through fluid replacement, and personal care is done through bed rest and throat lozenges.
Decongestants and cough suppressants are given to help relieve symptoms. Decongestants are expected to relieve nasal congestion, swelling, and running nose, while cough suppressants help block cough reflexes as well as thin down and loosen the mucus, making easy clearance of the airway.
Nonsteroidalanti-inflammatories are also used to relieve pain, fever and decrease inflammation. Analgesics like Paracetamol are used to relieve pain and sometimes antiviral drugs are used to reduce the ability of the viruses to replicate.
Some of the influenza complications include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, as well as worsening of chronic medical conditions such as heart failure, asthma, and diabetes. Young children may develop sinus problems as well as otitis media infections.
Last reviewed at:
28 Sep 2018 - 1 min read
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