It is recommended that individuals six months of age and above to have a flu shot to prevent flu symptoms.
A flu, otherwise known as influenza is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system. The virus may enter the body through the mouth or nose via the air. A lot of people acquire flu each year. People with a good immune system aren’t much in a danger with influenza. However, high risk individuals such as: newborn babies, elderly people, and people with chronic illnesses may develop complications, which can be very deadly.
People commonly confuse a common cold with influenza. This is because common cold and flu symptoms have some similarities such as a stuffy or runny nose. However, individuals with flu are typically much sicker and weaker. They also experience dry cough, extreme tiredness, body aches, and high fever.
The best defense against influenza is through getting a yearly flu shot. If once affected, the physician may prescribe medications to aid the body in fighting against the infection or lessen its symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Influenza
Flu symptoms usually cause dry or sore throat, a dry cough, a headache, body aches, and a fever. The affected individual may probably have a loss in appetite and feels tired all the time. The symptoms are usually worst for the first three to four days and may need at least one to two weeks to disappear.
Exposed individuals without a flu shot may have at least one to four days before the onset of flu symptoms. In most cases, people with influenza do not require any treatment. The disease may disappear without any problem. However, infected individuals may as well experience complications during the course of the disease such as: bronchitis, a sinus infection, and an ear infection. In some cases, influenza may even lead to a more severe problem, such as pneumonia.
Certain individuals are at a higher risk of developing complications from influenza. They include: people with an impaired immune system and long-term illnesses, the elderly, pregnant women, and young children.
Causes of Influenza
The virus that causes flu travels through the air in droplet form. It is transmitted through talking, sneezing, and coughing and then inhaled by other people. The germs can also be transmitted through infected objects such as a computer keyboard or telephone, which then enters the body through the mouth, nose or eyes.
Influenza viruses constantly evolve. A new strain may appear in the environment from time to time. However, once affected, the body of the individual develops antibodies against that particular strain. These antibodies acquired through having the disease or flu shot prevent or lessen the severity future infections that may be caused by the same strain.
But the antibodies against past flu viruses that have been encountered doesn’t have the capability to protect you from new influenza strains.
Treatment of Influenza
Flu usually disappears without further treatment. The patient may only need to drink plenty of fluids and bed rest. Certain drugs may be taken to shorten the span of illness or prevent the occurrence of severe complications. Medications that may be prescribed are antiviral medications such as: zanamivir (Relenza) or oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Tamiflu is an oral medication for flu while Relenza is taken through an inhaler. These antiviral may have side effects such as vomiting and nausea. Oseltamivir has been also known to cause delirium.
Prevention of Influenza
A flu vaccine is an effective way to prevent the occurrence of flu every year. Having a vaccine as soon as possible is very important. These vaccines are available in two forms: through a flu shot and through a nasal spray.
It is recommended for people ages 6 months and up to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible. This is important especially for high risk people, who include: pregnant women, children and adults with an impaired immune system or long-term health problems, the elderly or people aged 50 years old and above, and children from 6 months of age to 4 years. Furthermore, getting a flu vaccine during flu seasons is also recommended.
People who are frequently exposed to affected persons are at high risk of contracting the disease. It is essential for this people to get a flu vaccine. It includes health workers and individuals who work at health institutions such as hospitals. A physician may aid these people in deciding if a flu vaccine is necessary.
In most cases, a flu shot is effective in preventing the occurrence of flu symptoms. However, like any other vaccine, it doesn’t guarantee protection from the disease. People with the vaccine may still acquire the disease but symptoms may be milder. The chances of having complications are also reduced. It is not possible for one to acquire influenza from the vaccine. Furthermore, having a strong immune system and living healthy is still important in preventing flu and many diseases.